How did you come to consider yourself a feminist?
Although she never called it feminism, I was definitely raised to be a strong and independent woman by my mother. I came to call it feminism after a long discussion with my sister in my first year of college. My interest in women’s issues and feminist activism grew quickly and I changed my major to Women’s and Gender Studies the next year. At Stony Brook, this opened up the opportunity to intern with Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic in the fall of 2008. I began regularly attending FMLA meetings as a means to connect my internship with other feminist activities on campus.
What do you consider your achievements as the president of FMLA?
Elected at the end of the Spring 2009 semester, I was only president for a short period before graduating in December. In the fall semester though, we were able to organize another successful film series, this time focusing on representations of gender in horror films. In addition, SBU FMLA organized an informational campaign and petition against crisis pregnancy centers and other anti-choice advertising on campus.
What actions did you take to stop anti-choice propaganda on your campus, and what effect do you think those actions had?
In response to the circulation of the “icare” advertising pamphlet on our campus, we first created a fact sheet to counteract its harmful misinformation and lies. In addition we organized and circulated a petition to ask the campus newspaper to refuse such blatantly sensational and misleading advertising in the future. Using both paper copies and an online version of the petition, we spread the information and gathered signatures at various campus events, through e-mail listservs and Facebook, and received attention from at least three other campus newspapers. By the end of the semester, we had collected 165 signatures, and spread awareness and interest to hundreds more. As President of FMLA and organizer of the petition, I was targeted in a letter to a campus newspaper, The Stony Brook Press, written by the Long Island Coalition for Life. In response to the entire experience, I was asked to write a blog, which was published on RHRealityCheck.org.
How did your lobbying trips to Washington, DC affect your outlook on lawmaking and activism? What are your thoughts on the visit now that health care reform has passed the Senate and is headed into final negotiations?
Aside from what I learned from traveling to DC this winter, it was a tremendously inspirational experience for me as a woman, as a feminist, and as an activist. The feedback that we received from members of the House and Senate made me realize the value of activism, of showing up and making your voice heard. I learned so much from taking part in the process of lawmaking–which lobbying truly is—and also from interacting with veteran activists and leaders like Ellie Smeal and Cecile Richards. While we managed to pull the curtain back on Stupak and expose it for what it was—an attack on women and families—I am personally disappointed by some of the missed opportunities that could have made this health care reform bill truly great, such as taking out the public option and inclusion of the Nelson compromise in the Senate bill.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now I’m taking at least one semester off from school, although I hope to begin work on my Master’s in either Public Health or Midwifery in 2010 or 2011. I’m also hoping to find a job in the non-profit field organizing and advocating for reproductive justice and health issues.