Students form chapter for reproductive and gender equity on campus

By ALICIA FEYERHERM

Tiger Media Network

This semester, a new club has joined the list of over 200 student organizations recognized by Student Engagement. 

Students United for Reproductive and Gender Equity (SURGE) is a club for students passionate about protecting reproductive and gender rights. 

“We are an abortion-positive group that addresses how intersectionality influences healthcare, state and local policies,” Founder Drew Legere said.

According to faculty advisor Hollie Marquess, FHSU now joins six other Kansas universities with SURGE chapters: Bethel College, Johnson County Community College, University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Washburn University and Wichita State University. 

Legere approached Marquess about being the faculty advisor for the club and Marquess agreed. 

“As faculty, part of my job is to support and foster the leadership of young people and I was happy to fill this role that would let Drew shine in this way,” Marquess said.

Marquess said the organization also benefits the campus as a whole.

“It is important to have a chapter on our campus that gives our young people this leadership opportunity and experience in advocating for meaningful policy change,” Marquess said. 

Student Alisha Brantley joined the organization so she could have those opportunities to advocate and engage with other students. 

“I wanted to get more involved, specifically in Women’s and Gender Rights, but our campus didn’t really have a group or safe space to discuss those kinds of topics,” Brantley said. “It’s important for the women, LGBTQ+ members, POC, and other allies on our campus to know that there is a safe space to express their thoughts and voice their concerns, especially living in a community that is viewed as more conservative.”

Some of the club’s short-term projects will include tabling at the union about safe sex practices, designing posters about abortion access and listening to lectures on sexuality and reproductive health. 

The club will also watch “Call Jane,” a movie about activists in the 1960s and 70s who provided underground abortions, and discuss the movie as a group.

More long-term plans include larger-scale advocacy events. For example, as a whole, SURGE is working to remove the luxury tax on period products.

Legere recognizes that forming clubs takes time and this first semester will mostly focus on recruiting members and getting established. Brantley is excited to see where things go.

“It is a wonderful thing to know that there is a new, blossoming community here to support us,” Brantley said.

Those interested in joining SURGE can sign up on Tigerlink. SURGE meets every other Monday at 6:00 p.m. in Forsyth Library.

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