by SCOTTI MULLEN
On Oct. 6, a walkout supporting abortion rights will take place at noon on Ball Circle. The UMW chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America, the Radical Students’ Union, UMW Young Democrats and UMW Women’s Gender and Sexuality club are all organizing the event.
UMW’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter created a petition listing the demands for the walkout, citing Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s planned bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks except in cases of rape, incest or if the pregnant person’s life is at risk. Some of the demands include increased access to a greater variety of contraceptives on campus, as well as free Plan B and free pregnancy and STD testing. The petition also calls for the University to take an official, public pro-choice position.
“We are asking them to support students’ right to choose, as well as to improve various student mental and physical health services on campus,” said Chloe Vanderhoof, a junior political science major and co-chair of UMW Young Democratic Socialists of America.
The petition states that those signing “will not accept an increase in the price of tuition with the implementation of these services” and that the University should be transparent on how the demands are being paid for. It also demands improvement to Talley Center services, including queer-specific counseling and specialized counseling for pregnant people and/or those who choose to get an abortion.
“The protest and the public presentation of our demands at the protest is the glamorous part of the process,” said Devin Schwers, a junior political science major and chair of the UMW Young Democratic Socialists of America. “We will still have to work with the student government and the university to actually enact the change we are demanding.”
The event is in collaboration with all Young Democratic Socialists of America chapters that are participating in a national day of action.
“We believe our chapter’s participation in this campaign has the ability to do something truly good for of course our student body and university at large, but more importantly what we will truly be doing is helping in showing that young people all over the country are not only discontent with the state of our government, but that we will not continue to tolerate the blatant disregard of our rights,” said Schwers.
Jesse Frye, a senior American studies major, plans to attend the protest.
“I am attending the walkout because I believe in people’s right to choose,” said Frye. “I am concerned that the rights of uterus-having people are being restricted and stolen by an ever entrenched far-right government.”
Emma Dabolt, a senior women and gender studies major and secretary of the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Club, also plans on attending.
“I think it’s really important for as many people as possible to show support for this issue,” said Dabolt.
Schwers stressed that students should advocate for their needs.
“I think it’s really important for students to understand that the ball is in their court,” said Schwers. “The university will not bend over backwards to accommodate and provide for its students unless we demand them to. It is our responsibility to create the change we need not only for ourselves, but for everyone else who comes after us.”