Marie Sykes (email@example.com)
2022 has been declared a “historic” year, just like the last few before it. However, Ursinus places a firm emphasis on its responsibility to improve the world around us, and so when Roe vs. Wade fell, three students decided to take action, hoping to curate change. Hence, Vote For Our Rights (UC VFOR) was born.
Those three students, Alex Bender, Brooke Adams, and Sarah Symes, all from the Class of 2024, participated in Summer Fellows 2022 and were on campus when the Dobbs decision was released. They have formed an organization dedicated to promoting voter registration and turnout in every local, state, and national election. Symes explains that Roe vs. Wade was a turning point for them as a “Post-Roe world could be a threat to uterus-having people’s rights and more,” and that they “wanted to bring attention to the matter, educate on what this overturn means for our society, [and] encourage people to understand the importance of this upcoming election on reproductive rights specifically in Pennsylvania.”
Now, you may be asking, why is the Pennsylvania 2022 election so important? A few cliffnote reasons. First, Pennsylvania will elect its next governor and senator in this race. Second, the current state congress passed an amendment (Senate Bill 106) that will be voted upon in a referendum next spring unless the current congress has a change of membership. This bill aims to strip Pennsylvanians of any access to abortion while also requiring a government-issued ID (beyond the verified voter ID card) to vote, as well as expand the General Assembly’s power, mandate the auditor general to audit elections, and allow each party’s gubernatorial candidate to select their lieutenant governor, per spotlightpa.com.
With both of these issues combined, human rights activism has become a state issue rather than a national one, which is why Miles Noecker ‘22 said his “political activism is best served on safeguarding human rights in my home state,” and that he will do “everything” between now and election day to encourage active voter participation. Bender emphasizes that Roe vs. Wade and this election are not just about abortion rights: “if abortion bans are enacted under fetal personhood, then we could see bans on hormonal contraceptives and IVF. Additionally, there is concern that the current justices will call into question other important decisions, such as gay marriage and privacy in the bedroom.”
As a response to the stripping of access to healthcare, Adams says this was already a topic she was passionate about and “felt really compelled” to organize a student group to “advocate for human rights, equality, and equity on campus.” Symes adds that they want “to bring attention to the matter, educate on what this overturn means for our society, and [teach] the importance of this upcoming election on reproductive rights specifically in Pennsylvania.” This has directly translated into a student group encouraging active participation in the democratic process and increased voter registration and turnout.
Other members of the club explained why they got involved to begin with. Jordan Ulsh ‘23 says she “feel(s) an obligation to protect my own and others’ right to abortion as an extension of my belief in women’s autonomy,” while Holly Stang ‘24 made the point, “terminating a person’s right to have a safe and legal abortion does not prevent abortions, but instead prevents safe procedures. People with uteruses will continue to suffer major injuries and die without accessibility to safe abortions.”
And to those seemingly unaffected by the events of the summer, Adams, Bender, and Symes would like to emphasize that this affects you, the reader, too. Bender reminds folks seemingly unaffected that “someone you know and care about will inevitably be [affected by this]” and “you need to have some empathy.” Adams emphasizes that Roe vs. Wade is not just the fall of the right to abortion but it is the beginning of other rights being stripped away as well. “It demonstrates that our nation is in a place where human rights are being called into question, and that human rights in the future may be vulnerable.”
All students can register to vote in the state of Pennsylvania and Montgomery County as attending college counts as a form of residency. If you are interested in being involved, feel free to email bradams@ ursinus.edu or give them a follow on social media. The deadline to register to vote for the 2022 election is October 24th with the election occurring November 8.