Last Thursday, two Planned Parenthood representatives tabling with H*yas for Choice in Red Square were confronted by a University employee and asked to leave when they could not provide identification as students.
The group was offering free condoms and encouraging students to sign thank-you cards to President Obama in support of a new mandate for contraceptive coverage in health insurance provided by employers. The incident occurred during a brief period when no students were manning the table.
“Someone from the University came up and told [the Planned Parenthood reps] that they had gotten complaints that someone was promoting birth control on campus,” H*yas for Choice president Ashley Bradylyons (SFS ‘12) said. Realizing that they were not students, the University official asked the Planned Parenthood representatives to remain silent until the Georgetown students returned.
Emily Jakobsen, the Planned Parenthood rep for the Georgetown area present at Red Square, declined to comment on the incident.
It is unclear where the complaint or the order to remove the representatives from campus came from. “No one from DPS removed anyone from campus,” Stacy Kerr, Assistant Vice President of Communications, wrote in an email. “As an academic community committed to the free exchange of ideas, Georgetown believes it is important that students, faculty, and staff are able to engage in dialogue on important issues of the day.”
Bradylyons said H*yas for Choice has been removed from the Leavey Center by the Office of Campus Activity Facilities before. “We’re used to getting negative feedback at Georgetown,” she said.
The group says the tabling was part of a larger effort to increase awareness on the importance of the new insurance policy, especially for a Jesuit university like Georgetown.
According to Kelsey Warrick, vice president of H*yas for Choice, at least 300 people signed thank-you cards by the end of the day.
The University’s response to Obama’s new law is still undetermined. “The formal regulations for this have not been issued yet, so Georgetown cannot comment on how we will react to this news.”
Warrick and Bradylyons are unsure of the impact the Obama law will have on Georgetown’s health insurance policy, though Warrick doubts the University will move to providing birth control on campus.
“I think people are starting to realize what H*yas for Choice’s function is on campus—we’re not the group that promotes unsafe sexual practices,” Warrick said. “We’re here to raise awareness that there’s problems that our $54,000 a year tuition doesn’t cover…and I think our little voice is helping to have things be noticed.”