Our project focused on spreading awareness of affordable health and reproductive care options for students. As a group, we created a few pamphlets that described the options students had available to them, both on and off campus, for general health care, mental health and addiction services, and reproductive care.
An important aspect of our project came to be our focus on advocating for the support of Planned Parenthood, as it is at risk of being defunded by the government because of the abortion services it provides. Their services go beyond abortion services, and in fact, abortions only make up about three percent of the services they actually provide. Planned Parenthood offers affordable health care to individuals based on their income and most of the services they provide are preventative care initiatives. Patients would lose so much more than just abortion services if the government pulled their funding. We thought it would be important to bring awareness to all the other services Planned Parenthood provides because it’s so commonly stigmatized for providing abortion services. Additionally, we wanted to show support for women who must make that decision and advocate for their right to choose! We also wanted raise awareness about the importance of mental health care because it is not talked about enough.We made a pamphlet so that students who are suffering from, or know someone who suffers from, a mental health condition will know where they can call to get advice and help.
Overall I would say the project was successful because it got us more involved on campus and educated us on the deeper issues. It was difficult organizing an event and I don’t think we anticipated any issues early on in the planning process. We started off making a Google doc on which we could share our ideas, edit each other’s work, and collaborate on the information for our pamphlets. We assigned each group member a task such as calling different organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, Peer Educators, and UMBC Women’s Center, UMBC Counseling Center, in order to reach out to different groups for support for our event. The project got delayed when one of our group members started not showing up to class due to health issues and did not tell us she would no longer be involved. She was in charge of getting the event through the Women’s Center. Due to the delay we could not set a date for a Planned Parenthood volunteer to come to our event, which we had previously wanted to make happen so that we could provide better information about the services they offer.
We learned it takes active participation and communication to organize an event. I think if we had to do it over we would have set a date sooner. It was difficult to get a time slot for a tabling event with our schedules and because of the delay we encountered. We eventually contacted the Women’s Center to set a date for our event. We come together in the end, each making a pamphlet and flyer to hand out at the event. The day of the event was initially great; we handed out free lemonade and an assortment of cookies along with our pamphlets and flyers. One of the issues with having the event on campus is that there were rules we were expected to follow. For example, we were not allowed any type of soliciting, meaning we could not approach students and hand them pamphlets or advertise them verbally. It was challenging to just sit at the table and smile as people walked by us. It also didn’t help that the weather was very chilly and extremely windy. We held the event during the free period, which is normally a busier time in the breezeway, but due to the weather students weren’t outside as much. Also there was some band playing further down in the Common’s area keeping students attention. We found it hard to get students to care about our cause because they didn’t want to stop and talk. Most of the people who did come by our table stopped primarily for the free cookies and lemonade, but once they were at the table we would try to briefly talk a little bit about what was in the pamphlets. We were happy that they took our resources.
We think if we were to organize an event again on campus we would need to do more to advertise our event. Also, we could have made a poster board for our table to attract more students to stop by. I think this activist project has taught us how we can all think of different ways in which we are able to help others and how to put these ideas into action. This project has changed our relationship to activism because now we have gained experience in organizing, planning, and arranging an activism event. It’s important to the development of society to be an active part of the community, and now we have experience in reaching out to members of our community to promote an issue we care about. We also gained a fond appreciation for others that believe in activism and that dedicate their time to important causes.
-Ana Caceres, Bethany Drawbaugh, and Natalie Phillip