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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Campus NARAL kicks-off semester organizing

Published: October 3, 2014
Section: News

On Wednesday, Oct. 1 students gathered in Mandel for the first Brandeis University Students for NARAL meeting of the year.

NARAL, a political organization focused on reproductive rights, has chapters at five different universities in Massachusetts including Brandeis. Brandeis NARAL campus organizer, Ari Keigan ’18, described NARAL as “the political arm of the pro-choice movement.” She continued to explain that NARAL is a non-profit that uses the political process to “guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices.” This club has recently gained traction and members at Brandeis.

Unlike similar organizations, NARAL is unique in that it does not associate with a political party. Rather, it is an independent organization that hopes to focus solely on reproductive justice. As Hailey Magee ’15, a full-time employee of NARAL as a political organizer, said, “I initially got involved with NARAL—and continue to be involved two years later—because bodily autonomy and access to reproductive health services are basic human rights that all people deserve.”

During the kick-off meeting on Wednesday, a lot of time was spent discussing goals for the year. Although the organization has had a presence on Brandeis’ campus in the past, it now has a revamped executive board. Thus, there are high hopes for progress this year. Over the next month, the club will be spending a significant amount of time campaigning for endorsed candidates in preparation for the upcoming election. There will be opportunities for students to participate in phone banks and encourage other members of the Brandeis community to register and vote in their state’s elections.

While there is a focus on campaigning on a national level, especially with the Nov. 4 elections coming up, the Brandeis NARAL chapter was excited to announce its spring campaign to get the Brandies administration to adopt the Reproductive Bill of Rights. “This is a 10-point plan that outlines the ideal, reproductively-just campus,” Keigan explained. Magee stated, “Personally, I’m really thrilled about the Bill of Rights initiative. No campus is perfectly ‘just’ when it comes to reproductive health access, and as a social justice university, Brandeis has the opportunity to be a game changer and leader among its peer universities nationwide by signing onto the Bill of Rights in full.”

In addition to the Reproductive Bill of Rights, NARAL club members are hoping to increase their presence on the Brandeis campus and increase education about reproductive health issues. “For example,” as Keigan elaborated, “I have talked to several students who are on the university’s health care plan that are unsure of the reproductive options that are available to them. We hope to make these options more transparent.” Magee further stated, “Each campus campaign will be student-driven, based on what the student body wants as a whole.” The club hopes to receive input from the community and work to make reproductive health resources available to all students.

Over the next year, Brandeis NARAL will be having meetings every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in Mandel G10. Keigan, hoping to open the club up to anyone interested in the subject, invites everyone to the meetings to learn more about NARAL and have productive discussion about the issues. To learn more about Brandeis NARAL events, visit the Facebook page, Brandeis University Students for NARAL, or join the listserv.