Campus Action Corner

(From The Campus Lantern – February 27, 2014) 

As I stated last in last semester’s 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.

There are a few dates in March to keep in mind that pertain to reproductive justice. First off, March is National Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Project (NWHP) states that the purpose of National Women’s History Month is to recognize “the achievements of women in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, [and] medicine.” Many women, especially multicultural women, are overlooked in mainstream American history, so National Women’s History Month aims to write these women back into history (www.nwhp.org). Deanna and I are planning on holding an event commemorating women in history; we’ve yet to pick a definite date for the event, but we will keep you posted.

March is also National Endometriosis Awareness Month. According to the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMA) website, endometriosis is “a disorder in which the endometrial tissue, or the inner lining of the uterus, migrates to areas outside of the uterus, most commonly the ovaries and Fallopian tubes.” Endometriosis can be a painful, fatal disease so it is important to spread awareness to support those who suffer from it.

March 8th is International Women’s Day. According to the official International Women’s Day website, the holiday has been observed since the early 1900s. Traditionally, men honored the women in their lives by giving them flowers and small gifts. The deeper meaning of the holiday is to commemorate the achievements that women have made in history, including greater legislative rights, rights to attend university, and overall more visible public women role models for young folks. In the United States, however, women still do not have pay equality with men and women are not present in politics or business professions as much as men. Furthermore, globally and nationally, “women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men” (www.internationalwomensday.com). International Women’s Day honors women – all that they have overcome, and all that they are still fighting for.

March 10th is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. According to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) website, the purpose of this day is “to offer support and hope, reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS, and empower women and girls to embrace the theme ‘Share Knowledge. Take Action.’” There are a few actions that can be taken in order to embrace the theme: Get tested and know your status; educate your peers; seek care and treatment if you are HIV-positive; prevent new infections; host and participate in meet-ups across the country; and invite others to participate in National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (www.womenshealth.gov).

In addition, March 10th is also National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. According to Planned Parenthood’s website, the tradition started in 1997. March 10th is the “anniversary of the assassination of Dr. David Gunn, the first abortion provider murdered.” The purpose of the day is to “show your support for safe and legal abortion services and the heroes who provide them” (www.plannedparenthood.org). The day is an important one, in order to honor not only Dr. David Gunn, but every individual who provides abortions to folks. Deanna and I are planning on tabling in the Student Center on this day. We will have a card for folks to sign to show their gratitude for abortion providers.

Finally, March 28th is Back Up Your Birth Control Day. According to the official website, “Back Up Your Birth Control” is a national campaign to expand access to emergency contraception (EC) by increasing public education and awareness.” The day has been observed since the early 2000s, and the campaign is a project of the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

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 again this 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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The Ten Commandments, Satan, and Abortion

(From The Campus Lantern – January 16, 2014) 

I recently stumbled upon an article on The Washington Times’ website entitled “Satanists’ statue design for Oklahoma Capitol: ‘Sit on the lap of Satan.’” The title was a lot to take in, but it sparked my interest. The gist of it was that members of the Satanic Temple in Oklahoma feel as though they have a right to build a statue of Satan at the state’s Capital building. There has been a monument of the Ten Commandments there since 2012; the Satanists think that if one religious group has the right to have their presence in Oklahoma’s capital, lawmakers should allow other religious groups to be there, too.

At first look, the article seems bogus. A statue of Satan at a state Capitol building? That’s just unheard of. But once I took the time to think about it, I realized that it’s not so out there. I am not a religious person myself, but why should one person’s religion be accepted by the government, and then another’s shamed? If the monument of the Ten Commandments is standing, why shouldn’t one of Satan? In my eyes, no religion reigns over any other in importance. If someone wants to believe in God, let them. If someone wants to believe in Satan, let them.

This article also made me think of the seeming lack of separation between church and state in the United States. It can be argued that if there is a true separation of church and state then there should be no religious statues next to a Capitol building. It can also be reasoned that if one religion can flaunt their beliefs at the Capitol, then any religion should be able to. If Oklahoma lawmakers do not let Satanists build their statue at the state’s capitol, this country needs to speculate on this supposed “separation” between religion and government. Another debate currently going on in government is whether women should be able to have abortions, and if so, how late they should be able to have them. One major argument against abortion is that is goes against certain religions. However, in a governmental viewpoint, if there truly is a separation between church and state, this is an illegitimate reason. Regardless of the topic, or how controversial it is, lawmakers need to take a step back and make sure the separation between church and state is present in their policies.

Campus Action Corner Pt. 3

(From The Campus Lantern – December 5, 2013) 

As I stated in the last two 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.

In last month’s installment of “Campus Action Corner,” I talked about dates to keep in mind in November; there are also a few important dates in December related to reproductive justice. Sunday, December 1st was World AIDS day. According to the official World AIDS Day website, the purpose of the day was “for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.” A new club on campus, the Black Student Union, will be tabling on Friday, December 6th in Webb Lobby from 12-6PM. Stop by to pick up pamphlets, pins, and ribbons and to learn more about the AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted infections. There will also be free HIV testing in the Student Center, courtesy of Health Services.

Tuesday, December 10th is International Human Rights Day. According to the United Nations’ website, in honor of its 20th anniversary, the theme of the day this year is “20 Years: Working for Your Rights.” This theme puts “emphasis on the future … [while] identifying the challenges that lie ahead.” International Human Rights Day is celebrated all over the world, including “at the headquarters of the High Commissioner’s office in Geneva, in New York and in more than 50 other countries.”

Deanna and I will be on campus this year putting on different events centered on reproductive justice. We would like to thank everyone who came to our last event of the semester, which was an Obamacare information session. We had a great turn-out and the crowd had such insightful questions and comments. We’re excited to work together with everyone on campus again next semester, and we look forward to seeing you at our events! Feel free to email us at ecsucampusaction@gmail.com for more information.

Campus Action Corner Pt. 2

(From The Campus Lantern – October 31, 2013)  

As I stated in the last issue, 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.

In last week’s installment of “Campus Action Corner,” I talked about October dates to remember; there are also some dates in November related to reproductive justice to keep in mind. First off, November is Native American Heritage Month. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, it is a month-long effort to gain “recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S.” Also, from November 25th through December 10th it is the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The main goal of those 16 days is to raise “awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels” (16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu).

Municipal elections are being held on Tuesday, November 5th this year. You can check your local town hall’s website, or stop by in person, to find out where voting locations are. Wednesday, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). Its purpose is “to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of anti-transgender violence.” TDoR brings “attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community” (www.glaad.org). Monday, November 25th is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2013. According to the United Nations’ website, “[w]omen’s activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981.” On that date in 1960, “three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic,” were brutally assassinated “on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo” (www.un.org).

Deanna and I will be on campus this semester putting on different events centered on reproductive justice. Our next event will be disproving the myths and setting the facts straight about The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which helps the 19 million young people like you who may currently lack health coverage potentially gain access to it. We’re excited to be working together with everyone on campus this year, and we look forward to seeing you at our events! Feel free to email us at ECSUcampusaction@gmail.com for more information.

Campus Action Corner

(From The Campus Lantern – October 17, 2013)  

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 in every social class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, etc.

Going alongside with reproductive justice, there are some dates that you should keep in mind. October is both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website, during the month of October, “events in communities and regions across the fifty states will culminate in a powerful statement celebrating the strength of battered women and their children.” According to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) website, October is the specified month for “raising awareness and educating individuals” about breast cancer. NBCAM dedicate themselves to keeping people informed about breast cancer year-round as well.

October 11th was National Coming Out Day (NCOD). According to the Human Rights Campaign’s website, the point of NCOD is to “celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or as an ally.” NCOD was started 25 years ago on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

October 14th-20th was the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Week Without Violence. According to YWCA’s website, the week was initiated almost 20 years ago “to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against all forms of violence, wherever it occurs.” Violence affects everyone in society; an average of “24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States” (www.cdc.gov).

October 15th was National Latin@ AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). The NLAAD campaign works to build capacity “for non-profit organizations and health departments in order to reach Latino/Hispanic communities, promote HIV testing, and provide HIV prevention information and access to care” (www.aids.gov).

Finally, the second to last week of October, the 21st to the 25th, was LGBTQ Ally Week. According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Ally Week first started in 2005. “Ally Week is a week for students to engage in a national conversation and action to become better allies to LGBT” communities (www.glsen.org).

Deanna and I will be on campus this semester putting on different events pertaining to reproductive justice. Our next event will be disproving the myths and setting the facts straight about The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. We’re excited to be working together with everyone on campus this year, and we look forward to seeing you at our events!

Puentes al Futuro

(From The Campus Lantern – May 2, 2013)

There is an amazing weekly volunteering program through the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) called Puentes al Futuro, or Bridges to the Future.  Puentes started off as a summer program held on the Eastern campus for Windham Middle School students.  The students took classes in classrooms on campus and ate lunch here.  In the Fall 2012 semester, the program extended into an after-school program for the students.  Eastern students volunteered to tutor the students and help with their homework.  On some days the middle schoolers would come to Eastern and some days they would stay at their school.

In addition to continuing the middle school after-school program, Puentes reached out to Windham High School this semester.  At the 2013 Service Expo held by the CCE on April 18, Puentes won three out of the six awards, including “Best New Program.”  The program is already extremely successful, and is going to become better with each semester.

I started working and volunteering for Puentes this semester.  Every Thursday, I taught the middle school students a literacy class for about one hour, and then another Eastern student taught them math for another hour.  For the remaining hour of the after school program, the tutors helped the students with any homework they had.  It took a few weeks to warm up to the students and for them to warm up to me, but now I feel like I am a positive role model and mentor for them.

About half-way through the semester I came up with the idea to make a recipe book with the students for the literacy class.  Each week, they worked on writing stories about their favorite family recipes.  Most of the recipes were from the countries that their ancestors were from, so the stories helped the students to gain some insight about their cultures.  They also brought in recipes to go with the stories.  By the middle of April, everyone’s story was perfected.  I formatted the book, and the CCE printed them out.  The middle school students are officially published authors.

On Tuesdays, the middle school girls go to a dancing class and the boys go to a drumming class.  On Wednesdays, the students work on paper-mâché masks.  The tutors help them with their dancing, drumming and mask-making, as well as with their homework.  Puentes successfully mixes academics with entertainment and cultural learning.

On Wednesday, May 1, the middle school students had a performance to showcase the dance they learned, their drumming skills, and the masks they made in the art class.  The show was from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM in Shafer Auditorium.  The books that the students created were available for purchase before the show.  The books, which are 40 pages long, were sold for $5 and all the proceeds went to the Puentes program.

If you would like to volunteer for this program next semester, and I advise that you do, contact Kimberly Silcox at silcoxk@easternct.edu or (860) 465-4426.

A Visit to New York’s Harry Potter Exhibition

(From The Campus Lantern – April 18, 2013)

On Sunday, April 7, I went on the CAB trip to the Harry Potter Exhibit in New York City.  We caught the coach bus bright and early at 9:00 AM in the Student Center parking lot.  On the three hour ride to the city, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first movie in the series, was played inside the bus.  Personally, I hadn’t seen the movie in years, and even though it was a Sunday morning, I was getting pumped up to see the exhibit.

Once we arrived in Times Square, we were let inside the Discovery Times Square building, which was where the exhibit was held.  We waited in line for about twenty minutes, and then we took a picture with Hogwarts Houses scarves.  At the end of the exhibit, the picture was available to buy for $20.

Then we were let into a small, dark room in which stood a “wizard” on a stage with the Sorting Hat next to him on a stool.  Once the whole crowd got into the room, he asked if anyone would like to be sorted – everyone in the room raised their hand enthusiastically.  The wizard chose three volunteers, and they all turned out to be brave, chivalrous Gryffindors.

After the sorting, we were let into a bigger, still dark, room that had about six large flat-screen televisions hung on the wall.  In this room, we watched highlights from all eight Harry Potter movies.  The short movie started out showing innocent Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger when they were first-years, and ended with the terrifying, powerful Voldemort from the last film.  Once the short film was over, doors opened to the left and the first sight we saw was the actual front of the Hogwarts Express.  A witch welcomed us into the world of Harry Potter.  Happiness and nostalgia sprung inside me; Harry Potter was such a big part of my childhood, and I couldn’t believe the magic was coming to life.

For the next hour, we passed through a number of beautifully-decorated rooms dedicated to the wizarding world.  The walls were plastered with paintings, House banners, and common room bulletin boards from the movie sets.  Each room had outfits worn by the actors in the movies – both their robes worn in classes and casual clothes worn outside of Hogwarts.  There were also artifacts from the movies such as Ron and Harry’s four-poster beds from their dormitories, Malfoy’s Nimbus 2001, the real Marauder’s Map, and screaming Mandrakes.  There was even a room called “Hagrid’s Hut” which featured his oversided cauldron, hatching dragon egg from the third film, and huge furniture.

The exhibit ended into the gift shop, which was set up just like another room in the exhibit.  T-shirts with Death-Eater logos on them, Dumbledore’s and Sirius’ wands, and time turners were among the items that were for sale at high prices.

Just like on the bus ride to New York, a Harry Potter movie was played on the ride home.  This time, the last movie was played, and everyone watched intently the whole ride back to Eastern.  I know that I speak for everyone who went on the trip when I say that it was something I’ll never forget, and it reiterated in me something that will always have a special place in my heart: “All was well.”