H*yas For Choice at Georgetown College (HFC) drafted a “No Donation Pledge” to the university, which demands the university provide access to contraception on campus, fund pro-choice groups, and end administrative funding towards anti-choice events. Until these demands are met, the pledge asks for all who have signed on to withhold donations to Georgetown.
The pledge was created in response to Georgetown University’s public stance against reproductive rights, and the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, which protected a constitutional right to abortion.
“A lot of people responded with shock and I think to a certain extent, I felt that way too. But I’ve also been involved in reproductive justice advocacy since my freshman year,” Lauryn Ping (COL ’23), vice president of HFC, said in response to hearing the news of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “Finally people are kind of waking up and realizing, oh, wait, reproductive justice isn’t a thing we have already, it’s something we need to fight for.”
HFC, working alongside If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice at Georgetown Law—a law organization centered around transforming law and policy for sexual and reproductive well-being— has called upon President John J. DeGioia and deans of respective schools to address the pledge’s action items in a “timely and comprehensive manner.” Until the demands are met, the signatories will maintain a non-binding ‘no donation’ pledge towards the university endowment, which is a suggestion to “withhold current and future monetary support for Georgetown.”
Creators of the pledge avoided advocating for a complete donation boycott, as there still are pro-choice groups on campus in need of external support. HFC, for one, relies on donations made directly to the organization to remain operable.
“[The pledge] is not asking people to not donate at all because we understand that there are a lot of reproductive justice-oriented programs like the women and gender studies program,” Ping said. “We’re asking that donors write in specifically what they want to donate to, instead of donating to the college when those funds go into anti-choice things.” Moreover, the pledge emphasized that financial aid and scholarships at Georgetown are not included in its unrestricted funding.
Since the creation of the pledge in late June, it has accumulated over 500 signatures from current students and alumni. Parents of students, faculty members, and 13 organizations have also expressed support. The organizers called for the university to implement changes within one month of formal receipt of the pledge, although as of Sept. 8, there had been no university response.
“Georgetown is predominantly a pro-choice campus, even though the university administration itself isn’t,” Jess Shannon (SFS ’23), an HFC Admin Board member, said. “Refusing to donate is an important step to show Georgetown that pro-choice voices are important on campus for the future if it wants to continue to be sustained.”
HFC has long fought for reproductive rights and contraception resources on campus. Since HFC’s founding in 1991, the university has refused to recognize it as an official campus organization. Despite the HFC being the sole distributor of contraceptives on campus, the university has not granted the organization funding. As outlined in the recent pledge, the group is requesting that the university provides contraceptives, funds pro-choice organizations, keep virtual options open for classes, and end the hosting of the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life—the largest anti-abortion conference held in the U.S., funded by Georgetown, and held on campus every year.
Petitions have been made in the past against Georgetown’s stance towards abortion and specifically supporting anti-choice organizations. In January 2021, HFC also produced a petition in favor of a boycott of the Cardinal O’Connor Conference. HFC’s Administrative Board is aware that the school might respond as they did to the previous protest: by not responding at all.
“I don’t think the school will [respond to the pledge]. In my interactions with the school administration in the past, they pay us no mind,” Shannon said. “This pledge is much more of a symbolic way of showing that Georgetown is a pro-choice campus and that people do not support the actions of the administration.”
While potentially serving as a symbol for a greater message, writers of the pledge do believe that there is a way to mobilize change through signing on.
“I do think that we can create change,” Ping said. There are a lot of people who support the right and do think that we have the power to [change] public affiliation.”