As leaders in Choose Life at Yale, we would like to offer our case as to why CLAY chose to move forward in pursuing membership in Dwight Hall and explain the purpose of CLAY as an undergraduate organization.
CLAY has been an undergraduate organization for 10 years. A key component of our organization is our weekly meetings, which focus on discussing societal and philosophical issues related to abortion and fostering dialogue on campus on this issue. In the past, we have invited pro-choice and humanist members of the Yale community to come discuss these issues with us.
But over the course of the past two years, CLAY has incorporated a service component into its mission. In 2013, a pregnancy care center called St. Gianna’s opened its doors on Trumbull and Whitney. The first center of its kind within a 10-mile radius of Yale, St. Gianna’s is a resource for pregnant women who desire to keep their children but lack the means. Centers like St. Gianna’s not only provide expecting mothers with important items such as cribs, diapers and baby clothing, but also connect women to adoption services and medical clinics for prenatal care.
The Social Justice Network of Dwight Hall has a stated commitment to “build a community among those who identify themselves as working for social justice by providing a space for dialogue and cooperation.” We accept, at the heart of our organization’s mission, a definition of social justice that includes fighting for social equity and providing everyone with a chance to live a full and enriching life.
We believe strongly that any comprehensive definition of social justice must affirm pregnancy and childbirth. Our goal is to advocate for women who decide to have a child, to provide the kind of support grossly lacking on a campus where pregnant women often feel they have no option but to abort in order to preserve their opportunity for success. If granted the opportunity to become a full member of Dwight Hall, we would seek to offer our perspectives on social justice to the larger network.
In line with our commitment to social justice and dialogue, CLAY members also do advocacy work on campus. CLAY recently hosted its first annual conference, Vita et Veritas, which lasted three days and included over 100 attendees and 15 diverse speakers. The talks included an interfaith panel, a constitutional discussion and a speech by the vice president of Feminists for Life. We have no intention of being an inflammatory group; we understand that this is a sensitive issue and one that requires us to actively foster an atmosphere of open discussion and support. All our meetings have and will always be open to the public, and the Yale community is welcome to come and stop by.
We are very thankful for the encouragement that Dwight Hall members have given to us during this yearlong process of applying for membership, which began with their offer for us to join as provisional members. Since then, we have regularly attended all required meetings and complied with the rules for Dwight Hall membership. Throughout this past year we have felt welcomed by Dwight Hall.
We have made sure to express to the different coordinators that met with us that, as a group committed to dialogue, we were more than willing to meet with anyone who was strongly opposed to our membership prior to the election in order to best explain our mission and our purpose. We did this because we understand that the election is not the proper forum for deliberation — this is the reason why last-minute attempts to derail our candidacy come across as very unexpected.
Social justice takes many forms, as Dwight Hall knows — many of its groups take very different, and sometimes conflicting, approaches to furthering social justice. While the points of emphasis differ, the mission is the same. Our effort to help pregnant women and their babies in no way distracts from this mission.
Christian Hernandez is a junior in Berkeley College. Courtney Mceachon is a junior in Pierson College. They are officers in Choose Life at Yale.