Campus Action Corner

(From The Campus Lantern – March 27, 2014)

As I have stated in previous installments of “Campus Action Corner,” I am currently taking part in an internship called Campus Action through Planned Parenthood of Southern New England with another Eastern student, Deanna Jimenez. As interns, our jobs are to be voices for reproductive justice on Eastern’s campus. Reproductive justice mixes reproductive rights with social justice – we advocate for freedom in reproduction and reproductive health for every social class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, etc.

First off, I would like to plug an event that Campus Action is hosting along with the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the History Club. On Monday, March 31st, we will be holding a National Women’s History Month Panel from 1-3PM in the Johnson Room in the Smith Library. Panelists include Eastern Connecticut State University professors and a representative from Planned Parenthood. Topics being covered include the history of women and feminism, reproductive justice, and sexism. After the panel discussion, the audience will also have the opportunity to take part in a Q+A session with the panelists. There will also be lots of free Cafémantic food. It’s going to be an enlightening, enjoyable event and we hope to see you all there!

With the end of March in mind, there are a few dates in April to keep on your radar that pertain to reproductive justice. To start with, April is GYT (Get Yourself Tested) Month and STD Awareness Month. The GYT campaign is co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood and MTV, and aims to encourage young folks to push against the negative stigma of STD testing. According to GYT’s official website, http://www.itsyoursexlife.com/gyt, the campaign “is about knowing yourself, and knowing your status, while carving your own path in life.” Campus Action is going to be collaborating with the Black Student Union (BSU) to hold an event in which free STD-testing will be available for Eastern students. The tentative date for the event is Thursday, April 10th, so mark your calendars!

National Volunteer Week is April 6-12. According to Points of Light, an organization that is dedicated to volunteer service, the purpose of the week is to inspire, recognize and encourage people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. National Volunteer Week is “about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.” There are many volunteer opportunities here at Eastern; be sure to contact the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) to volunteer at some point during this week!

World Health Day 2014 is on Monday, April 7th. According to the World Health Organization’s website, the theme of World Health Day this year is protection against vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue. Common vectors that transmit such diseases are mosquitoes, sandflies, and ticks. You can easily be protected against vector-borne diseases by “sleeping under a bed-net, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and trousers and using insect repellent” (http://www.who.int).

April 15-21 is National Minority Cancer Awareness Week. The week was established on April 8, 1987 by the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 119. It was explained in the Congressional Record that “[w]hile cancer affects men and women of every age, race, ethnic background, and economic class, the disease has a disproportionately severe impact on minorities and the economically disadvantaged.” The goal of National Minority Cancer Awareness Week is to increase awareness of prevention and treatment among populations that are at greater risk of developing cancer (www.socialworkers.org).

April is also National Minority Health Month. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (OMH), during the month of April, awareness will be raised “about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities.” The 2014 theme of National Minority Health Month is “Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity.” This theme “is a call to action, a charge for all of us to unite towards a common goal of improving the health of our communities” (www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov).

In addition, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the purpose of the campaign is to “raise awareness about sexual violence and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent it.” During April, SAAM encourages young folks to use their unique voice to discuss how everyone can impact our future and prevent sexual violence. To learn more about SAAM, their official blog can be found at http://www.nsvrc.org/blogs/saam. For a campus reference, Starsheemar Byrum of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) can be contacted at any time at her email, byrums@easternct.edu, to talk about sexual violence and abuse.

Deanna and I will be on campus this year putting on different events centered on reproductive justice. For each event, we are going to be collaborating with a student club on campus, the National Organization for Women (NOW). NOW meetings are Mondays at 6PM in the Student Center in room 107. We’re excited to work together with everyone on campus for the remainder of the semester, and we look forward to hopefully seeing you at NOW meetings and Campus Action events! Feel free to email us at ecsucampusaction@gmail.com for more information.

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