Students support Fluke with petitions, gatherings

March 15, 2012

Over the past week, Georgetown students angered by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s verbal attack on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, have created petitions and begun planning events to protest Limbaugh’s comments, which drew national media attention and outrage.

Currently, members of several campus groups, including the Student Group Union, are planning a gathering next Friday on Healy Circle to demonstrate Georgetown coming together against Limbaugh’s statements.

According to Emma Greene, a founder of the SGU, the event will be “a gathering of as many Georgetown students as possible not on any particular side of the reproductive rights issue, but to stand together as a community to say that we support one another in voicing our opinions, and that we stand together in…respectful public discourse.”

“We are still in the process of reaching out to student organizations,” Jordan Daniels (SFS ’12), an organizer for the event, said. “Within the next week we’re going to have all the student groups who want to be a part of it confirm sponsors.” Daniels said many groups have shown interest.

Daniels and other students are also working on a petition to circulate among the student body. This was partly inspired by President DeGioia’s letter to the Georgetown community encouraging civil discourse even in the current political climate.

“A diverse coalition of students has come together to answer President DeGioia’s call to reflect on our shared values as a community,” Daniels wrote in an email. “The goal of our project is to produce a student-generated letter in the spirit of DeGioia’s message.”

The letter will not be specifically sent to Limbaugh, Daniels said, since public discourse involves more than just one person.

GUSA Vice-President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) said, “Hoyas that hold a variety of perspectives on the contraception issue will be able to come together in support of a civil dialogue on these issues.”

Daniels described the petition as “an invitation to all students from across the political and religious spectrum to come together.”

The letter will be released for students to sign in the coming weeks.

On his radio talk show, Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut”  and said he would purchase “all the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as possible” after Fluke testified at an unofficial Congressional hearing in support of federally mandated health care coverage of contraceptives.

Katie Frederick, a graduate student in the School of Continuing Studies, has also launched a petition entitled “Mr. Limbaugh, Make Good on Your Promise.”  The idea of the petition is to ask Limbaugh to buy the aspirin he promised the women of Georgetown and to donate that aspirin to low-cost medical clinics in the D.C. metro area that help lower-income households and the homeless.

“From the beginning I figured this was a long shot, but I think that it is important to stand by your word,” Frederick wrote in an email. She has compiled a list of potential groups to donate the aspirin should Limbaugh make good on his promise, but has not contacted them, “not knowing what politics that might bring into the situation.”

The major challenge facing this early petition movement was having much of the student body on spring break this past week. Frederick endeavored to “pick up more support from people outside of the Georgetown community as well as people who may disagree with Ms. Fluke” by “aiming the petition at helping others,” she wrote.

Even if Limbaugh does fulfill his promise, “it would be somewhat of a compromise,” wrote Frederick. The only way for him to truly make amends, would be to “tone down his show and be more respectful of those around him with different opinions,” she wrote. As of Wednesday night, the petition had over 120 electronic signatures.

Additionally, GUSA Senator Laura Kreese (SFS ’12) has introduced a resolution to GUSA “Concerning Civility and Public Discourse.” It calls on GUSA to commend Fluke on her model civil discourse, strongly support the statements made by President DeGioia, and encourage all members of the campus community to engage in civil public dialogue.

The student reaction thus far has sought to responsibly act upon President DeGioia’s declaration in his public letter that “this is our moment to stand for the values of civility in our engagement with one another.”

“President DeGioia’s call for civil dialogue was inspiring in the midst of the turmoil,” Kohnert-Yourt said.

Additional reporting by Vanya Mehta.

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