Finding our footing on conservative campuses

Does your campus’s LSRJ chapter face opposition in regard to facilitating a comprehensive conversation about reproductive justice? Well mine definitely does! While my campus has a mix of people with different backgrounds, and a rich liberal arts community, the Midwest doesn’t exactly scream bleeding liberal. Some LSRJ chapters at conservative campuses face opposition in the form of other, more conservative, student run organizations; some face it from their administrations, and others from their peers, or the community in general. Whatever the opposition is, it can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening.

The question is, how do we combat this conservative opposition and oppression, in order to facilitate a discussion and educate others about the RJ movement? I am obviously not alone in facing these problems, as Sandra Fluke of Georgetown lead a packed room in a discussion on this question at the first Issue Caucus that I attended at the Leadership Institute, LSRJ’s national conference at Berkeley.

While no solution was definitively reached, and I personally don’t begin to have the “right” answer, I was really charged by the discussion and feel many great ideas were presented. Some campus chapters decided to take an adversarial approach, feeling it important to use those “scary” words the opposition fears. They feel it important to speak out because there are so many that are ill-informed. Others, including myself, have chosen to take a more middle-ground approach on our campuses. Such chapters feel it important to use an intersectional approach in order to highlight common ground; while we refuse to apologize for our stance, we understand this can be most effective given the types of opposition we face.

Whether it is forming a coalition with an unlikely ally, finding a faculty member to back your cause, or a hosting a fundraiser to bring in members of the community, it is important that we find which avenues best fit our campuses. There is not only one way to approach this problem, but there are a variety of steps we can take to advance our cause and educate others about RJ issues. For me, I strongly feel that as we keep in mind the LSRJ/RJ vision, and keep the discussion alive, we will ultimately find the avenue that best fits our campuses and communities at large.

Nikki Tuttle