WKU students engage in feminist issues on and off campus

Amy Dassow

In the wake of increased national focus on several issues pertaining to women’s rights and sexual justice and health, students are working to open up a dialogue.

“We see that there is really a need for people to come out and say, ‘Hey, I’m pro-choice’, or ‘Hey, I believe that women should have the right to do whatever they want with their body’, because we have other organizations that sort of fight against it. We are making a safer place for students to talk,” said Justin Crenshaw, a Glasgow freshman.

In fact, some students are getting involved on the national scale and bringing it back to campus.

Crenshaw, along with WKU students Leah Railey and Hilary Harlan, recently went to the 2013 National Young Feminist Leadership Conference, which was held from March 23-25 in Washington, D.C. There, they attended workshops and seminars on issues such as reproductive justice, violence against women, campus activism and women’s rights and health.

“It was basically giving insight on how we can make changes on our campus to create a more unified body and improve the lives of people that cross sections of individuality,” Crenshaw said.

Winston, Ga. junior Leah Railey, also attended the conference to see what she could learn about different issues, such as transgender students and campus politics, eco-feminism, and reproduction health.

Alvaton Junior Hilary Harlan went to see what was happening on other campuses across the nation.

“My favorite workshop was on immigration reform policies, and how they are affecting people,” Harlan said. “Politicians should not be the ones controlling us, we should be the ones controlling them, because we are paying their paychecks, and we are the ones who should have the power.”

The three are members of Hilltoppers for Choice, an organization formed late in the fall 2012 semester.

“We wanted to provide a safe space on campus for people who were either pro-choice, or who wanted to talk about reproductive rights and justice,” Railey said. “We don’t just talk about the political side, we talk about things like sexual health. We want to promote sexual safety and health on campus.”

Hilltoppers for Choice currently has a group of main members and supporters of around 100 students, and have worked with Health Services and Well-U.

“We want to be a place for students to come if they want resources, and our long-term goal is to be a source for students on campus,” Railey said.

Harlan thinks that Hilltoppers for Choice is on the right track. “We grew out of trying to expand the discussion of reproductive justice, reproductive rights, reproductive health, beyond the pro-choice and the pro-life argument.”

Hilltoppers for Choice hosts film series and discussions, and is hosting Rock 4 Choice, a free concert which will be on April 18 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Grise Lawn.

“We’ll have bands playing and fun activities, and games, and also informative booths on different STIs and STDs,” Railey said.

Hilltoppers for Choice has a Facebook page, and encourages students to become involved and engaged on WKU’s campus.