Saint Mary’s students attempt to create pro-choice club
Mia Marroquin | Friday, September 4, 2020
From Baking Club to the Lady Accountants of Tomorrow, the range of clubs available for Saint Mary’s students is seemingly endless. Recently, juniors Lauren Peterson and Megan King have tried to add their club, “Smicks for Choice” to the list, but have been unsuccessful. Peterson and King serve as president and vice president of Smicks for Choice, respectively.
The mission of Smicks for Choice is threefold, King said.
“First of all, it’s about the empowerment of women, we want women to know you can make your own choices,” she said. “Second, it’s to build a community. We’ve noticed a need for a group like this on campus, and how many students on campus were looking for something like this.”
The club’s mission is also about bodily autonomy, King said.
“Abortion is just one of the many decisions women make regarding their own body,” King said.
The club came to fruition this semester through the aspirations that Peterson, King and their other roommates have for inclusivity at the College, Peterson said in an email.
“My roommates and I are very strong-willed feminists and believe that our voices about the right a woman has to her body deserve to be heard,” she said. “We recognized about a year ago that there is quite a lot of representation for the Belles for Life club but no ‘Belles for Choice’ club. At first, we did not think we would be the ones to actually make this a reality.”
The reality has yet to become official though, Peterson said, as they are working to fill their leadership board prior to sending a formal request for the club to be recognized by the College. Presently, the private club is active on social media spreading their mission and working to recruit more members.
“Since we are not yet able to use names affiliated with the College such as ‘Belles,’ we are the Smicks for Choice,” she said.
Their initial social media account with the ‘Belles for Choice’ name has since been taken down, but have since gained a following on Instagram.
As for the club’s next step, Peterson’s plan is to find an advisor, which has proved difficult.
“We have heard stories from professors and even some alumni that there have been situations in the past where faculty members have had their jobs threatened due to standing up for a club that promotes the view of pro-choice,” Peterson said.
Being a Catholic institution has proved to be a hurdle in establishing the club as well.
“A lot of people reached out to us and did not understand why a [Catholic] campus would need a pro-choice club, and that the College has the right to turn it down on religious grounds,” King said. “But the thing is not everyone is Catholic, and we’re put into this Catholic box –– that you don’t even notice until you leave campus –– which really affects how you view the world.”
Peterson added that there is a distinct difference in beliefs among pro-life and pro-choice individuals, and that debates can be important and a valuable use of time –– a purpose which the club could serve should it be established officially.
In addition to finding an advisor, the club has faced other obstacles, such as disapproval from many staff members and students.
“We really want everyone to know that we mean no harm and truly only want what’s best for our school and for it’s students,” Peterson said. “We did not intend to have any conflict in starting this organization nor did we intend to disrespect any of the school’s wishes or policies.”
Should the club not receive formal recognition, King and Peterson both agreed that they are passionate about continuing the existence of the organization.
“We will still be a community and resource for people that need us, and that means we can be there for anything because we do see the need for this community on campus,” King said.
Peterson added that another option should their request not get approved is to create a petition in order to get the attention of College President Katie Conboy.
“That way we can bring our concerns to her and show her how passionate we are about our right to freedom of speech at our institution,” she said. “Especially since our mission statement does, in fact, align with the mission of Saint Mary’s College, which includes the call for justice and inclusivity.”