Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 16, 2024

Voice for Choice secures SGA Senate approval

By Ellen Brait | November 21, 2013

Voice for Choice (VFC), a non-harassment, bipartisan pro-choice group, was officially approved as a student group by the Student Government Association (SGA) last week. The foundation for the group formed last year in response to the pro-life group Voice for Life (VFL).

This year, VFC is expanding its presence under the leadership of two of its founding members, freshmen Vinitha Kumar and Tess Fields. The group works to promote women’s rights to make their own sexual and reproductive choices. VFC’s core values include promoting consensual sex and equality regardless of gender as well as increasing activism on campus and establishing Hopkins as a safe haven for all students.

“Our original goals are to promote sexual autonomy and healthy sexuality, reproductive autonomy and an end to gender and identity discrimination for all students,” Kumar wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

The group also hopes to educate the Hopkins student body on the issues surrounding reproductive health, anatomy and sexual assault. They plan to use only medically accurate, up-to-date information and hope to help remove the stigma from sexuality. VFC also aims to ensure that students are aware of the mental and physical health resources — both at Hopkins and on a governmental level — that are available to sexual assault victims.

Although the group was only recently officially approved as a student group by the SGA, VFC has been actively planning for the upcoming year, as well as participating in events on campus.

“Since October, I have been working with students that have already graduated and had laid down the foundations for this club,” Kumar wrote. “Some prospective members participated in an unofficial protest against Voice for Life’s demonstration.”

VFC’s first official meeting will occur in December and include the new members that the group is currently recruiting along with the 11 current freshmen members.

However, VFC already has many ideas on what they can do to enrich the campus. In their application to become a student group, VFC listed numerous events they hoped to plan and execute throughout the year. These included free condom giveaways on the Breezeway, movie and documentary screenings on women’s health, guest speakers to discuss sexual assault response and activism, as well as informational sessions that go over Title IX, the Clery Act and the on-campus resources available to students in case of sexual assault, gender discrimination or harassment.

Thus far VFC has been well received by other student groups on campus who wish that the student body as a whole would pay more attention to these issues.

“Voice for Choice is an important addition to our community in light of the growing movement against reproductive rights, both on campus and in politics. Our group is excited that they will be getting resources from the University to fight for bodily autonomy, an issue that we care deeply about,” senior Carrie Andrews, president of Hopkins Feminists, wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

The Hopkins College Democrats also support VFC’s viewpoint and goals. They worked alongside the Hopkins Feminists on a counter protest to VFL’s demonstration, “The Cemetery of the Innocents,” earlier in the year.

“We always welcome more members to the progressive community at Hopkins, and I’m excited to see what VFC does. We not only need to defend a woman’s legal right to choose, but also push back against some of the more offensive publicity stunts that have been taking place at Hopkins,” junior Jordan Carmon, president of the College Democrats wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “It’s important that we have a constructive dialogue on campus about these issues, and hopefully Voice for Choice will help us work towards that goal.”

The Hopkins College Republicans could not be reached for comment.

Even VFL, who holds an opposing stance to VFC, has expressed how beneficial they believe a new viewpoint will be for the Hopkins campus.

“While we disagree with the viewpoints of VFC, we respect their right to express them,” sophomore Monica Rex, VFL Director of Media Relations, wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Hopkins students are smart, and they want to have good conversations about controversial issues. Having both sides represented on campus will bring right to life issues the attention they deserve and let the truth win out in a way that students can form educated opinions for themselves.”

Both VFL and VFC agree that students can always be more involved with issues like this on campus.

“During our Cemetery of the Innocents display in October, we asked hundreds of students what they thought about abortion. A large portion of students replied, ‘I don’t have an opinion,’ or ‘I don’t know when life begins,’ or ‘I haven’t thought about it enough.’ Those answers simply aren’t good enough for a university with some of the brightest minds in the world, including many future doctors, nurses and civic leaders who will have to make decisions about human life issues during their careers,” Rex wrote.

Fields, a founding member of VFC, believes that the introduction of VFC will establish a more balanced environment on campus for debate and education.

“Whether it’s education or socioeconomic issues or political viewpoints, a healthy debate is one of the best things a student can access on a college campus,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

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