Candace Gibson, University of Utah College of Law
It has been a whirlwind ride for me as a 3L. Last summer, when I was planning my 3L year, I wasn’t thinking of starting a LSRJ chapter. However, I became convinced by one of my mentors to start one. Now, I am sad to leave the U of U Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chapter.
We’ve had a great year. Unlike some of our sister chapters in the Mountain West, we did not have any bureaucratic obstacles to fight and so far, we have gained the respect of our student body and of the other student organizations. Maybe, we’ll know we have arrived when there is a pro-life law students group on our campus. We planned and co-hosted five panels, the topics ranged from academic scholarship in reproductive rights to domestic violence in immigrant communities to the valuable contributions of medical practitioners. We made condom kits twice to help the HIV Prevention Program at the Utah Pride Center and we created a presentation around the legal issues that some Latina adolescents face in Salt Lake City. We also tabled the months of October and November on various RJ topics. It was a fun but exhausting year!
All of this could not have been done without the energy and work of our 2011-2012 board who stepped up when they needed to and told me that they were too exhausted to do another thing. These moments remind me that when you are doing social justice work you have to set some boundaries or else you will be exhausted and no longer useful to your community or your movement.
The other important lesson I am learning is that we always need to mentor. Often, as adults either pursuing education or because we are still getting our act together, we never think of ourselves as mentors but as mentees. We need to keep thinking as chapter leaders and as members that we not only mentor during a transition meeting and after we have left, but that we are mentoring while we are leading our chapters and are mentored by our other chapter members. As a movement, we need to keep mentoring so that we never become irrelevant or worse, we end up erasing the efforts of younger members by saying they aren’t doing anything. (I’m sure you have all heard about the comments made by older feminists who think that we younger feminists are only sitting on their laurels and twiddling our thumbs.)
Aside from these serious thoughts, I want you all to wish next year’s U of U Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chapter board the best of luck. I’m thinking they will certainly put us one step closer to having our archrival, Law Students for the Right to Life, on campus.