Wonder Women Wednesday: Lauren Low

By Emily Escobar
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She is wise. She is strong. She is a warrior.

Wonder Woman, one of the most iconic and powerful superheroes, serves as a role model across the world. Her character leads by example, fights for justice, and strives for peace. But Wonder Woman doesn’t just appear in films and comic books—she’s in our daily lives, embodied in those who fight against inequality. Join us each Wednesday as we highlight wonder women from campuses across the country who are leading the charge for change.

This week, Wonder Woman Lauren Low is writing her own post, and she has a lot to celebrate:

Students for Reproductive Freedom (SRF) at UC Davis is a student run organization, a member of the Planned Parenthood Generation Action network and a Feminist Campus affiliated group. My roommate Emma Warshaw and I founded the club in 2018 in response to threats to reproductive and sexual healthcare access at the national level. The club organizes students at Davis to advocate for reproductive justice in the community through lobbying, educational workshops, fundraising, and volunteer efforts. 

Advocating for SB 24, or the College Student Right to Access Act, was one of the first projects the organization undertook. SRF has proudly worked alongside student activists from across the state and the Just Care campaign to bring abortion care to public universities in California. The opportunity to work on a piece of legislation that has such a direct impact on my campus community and the lives of my peers has ignited a passion for reproductive justice in me, which I hope has spread to the UC Davis community. While the impact of our work on our club and me personally is nearly impossible to quantify, the following is a brief overview of our previous projects in conjuncture with the legislation. I hope this post can provide ideas to other students seeking to engage with SB 24 or other pieces of legislation that are important to them.

Lobbying and Committee Hearings

Since its start in the spring of 2018, SRF has been involved with the Just Care campaign’s lobbying efforts. SRF members consistently joined the campaign in giving statements of support at committee hearings. We have also joined Just Care’s student advocacy days, where our members have been able to meet with legislators and their staff to lobby for SB24. We also had the opportunity to discuss the bill with legislators during Planned Parenthood’s annual Capital Day event. I worked with our organization to recruit Davis students to attend these events and helped organize transportation from Davis to Sacramento. Through these efforts, our members have both represented student voices to legislators and gained valuable knowledge about the legislative process. I personally started lobbying with a very limited understanding of our state legislator. I now know how to advocate for future legislation and am grateful that other members have been able to gain the same knowledge.

Recently, I had the honor of speaking on behalf of Planned Parenthood Generation Action at the rally for SB 24 at the state capitol in Sacramento. The speech highlighted the power student activists have built through their work on the bill and the importance of carrying the reproductive justice movement beyond SB 24, and into future projects.

Phone Banking

In August 2018, SRF hosted a phone banking campaign to promote SB 24 to state legislators. We set up a table at the UC Davis quad and encouraged passing students to call their representatives to urge support for the bill. Members also passed out Planned Parenthood buttons and condoms to raise further support for the cause. This event was a relatively easy way to engage students who may have otherwise never become involved with SB 24. Outreach to the campus community through tabling remains a key tenant of our club’s advocacy strategy. 

Media Promotions

SRF has used social media to put pressure on campus administration to support SB24. Posts urging Chancellor Gary May to state his support for the legislation were put up on Instagram and Facebook in collaboration with Just Care’s campus poster campaign. Members also tweeted at state legislators to urge further support before committee hearings, providing another form of engagement for members who were unable to come to lobbying days or committee hearings.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwdFdOEnCmQ/

I raised awareness for SB 24 in the Davis community through the campus radio station, KDVS. Last spring, I sat down with The Cycle News Hour radio show to discuss the bill and the state of reproductive justice in California. A clip from the interview is available here.

Student Government Resolution

Students for Reproductive Freedom also partnered with our student government. I drafted a resolution in support of SB 24, which was edited and introduced to the Associated Students of University of California Davis (ASUCD) by the body’s Gender and Sexuality Commission. The resolution was passed unanimously by ASUCD and signed by President Justin Hurst, demonstrating the student government’s commitment to abortion rights and the high level of support SB 24 enjoys amongst students on the Davis campus. The resolution was sent to Chancellor Gary May and UC Regents President Janet Napolitano, further pressuring UC administration to state their support for the bill. This resolution served as a way for UC Davis students to officially sanction their support for abortion care on campus.

Future Projects

This coming academic year, Students for Reproductive Freedom will continue to fight for reproductive healthcare on campus. While SB 24 has been signed into law, a significant amount of work is needed to ensure a successful implementation process. SRF is currently launching an applied research project to gain student feedback on our campus’s student health center. Student experiences with the health center will be collected through a campus-wide survey, alongside focus groups and interviews. Through this project, we are seeking to provide the university with recommendations to help the health center improve their reproductive and sexual healthcare services in preparation for SB 24. We also hope to continue our partnership with Just Care in a coordinated campaign to raise awareness about SB 24 amongst our student population. Our organization believes we have a responsibility to uplift student voices and experiences through our research.

Working on SB 24 has changed the trajectory of SRF. The state-wide coalition of peers and allies established by this campaign has helped SRF grow faster and stronger than anyone else ever imagined was possible. When I started this organization, I was skeptical that a small group of students could create any form of lasting change. Having abortion access on college campuses become a reality has inspired a generation of young feminist activists to fight for reproductive justice in an era where advocacy can sometimes feel hopeless. Davis students, now armed with valuable organizing skills, will go on to make advancements for justice on our campus and beyond.

By Emily Escobar

Emily (she/her) is FMF’s National Campus Organizer for California. She grew up in Los Angeles, but was born in Guatemala and is proud of her immigrant identity. She is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, with a Bachelors degree in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and a History minor. During her time at CSULB, she helped revive the feminist student organization on campus, the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Student Association (WGSSSA), and served as its president during her senior year. She advocates for feminism using an intersectional lens and brings a voice to folks from marginalized communities. She is passionate about immigration reform, reproductive justice, and LGBTQ+ rights.

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