After lying dormant since 2010, the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale will reclaim its pro-choice voice on campus.
RALY’s revival comes on the heels of heated discussion regarding Choose Life at Yale that arose in April, after the pro-life organization was denied full membership in Dwight Hall’s Social Justice Network. RALY President Isabella D’Agosto ’16 said she reinstated the group not as a counter to Yale’s pro-life organizations, but to create an outlet for pro-choice activism that she herself had trouble finding on campus. The group currently has 25 members. RALY’s deadline for applications for its committee member positions was Sunday.
“I don’t think there is enough discussion that has to do with the student majority pro-choice [stance],” D’Agosto said. “I think the idea of discussion of reproductive rights is inherently linked to women’s empowerment, which I would personally like to see the University focus upon more directly.”
RALY aims to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right and to encourage pro-choice discussion at Yale on the campus-wide, citywide and national level, D’Agosto said. She added that in order to educate students about their reproductive health options, the group will look to compile a cohesive guide to reproductive health services and policies at Yale.
RALY will also partner with the Planned Parenthood clinic in New Haven and offer to accompany students who want to visit the facility. D’Agosto said she hopes these services will effectively increase transparency and provide support.
“I would hope the organization becomes something that individuals can turn to when there is confusion,” she said.
Because the issue of reproductive rights has sparked widespread national debate recently, D’Agosto said the group may invite outside speakers to raise awareness about policy and legislation.
The organization, D’Agosto said, is currently in the process of applying for Dwight Hall membership and to become a Women’s Center resident group.
CLAY President Elena Gonzalez ’15 said she hopes RALY’s presence will foster more open and honest dialogue about reproductive issues on campus. If both groups respect all the perspectives on abortion, she said, they could engage in productive discussions. They could also work together on certain issues, such as ending the stigmatization of young and unmarried pregnant women and mothers, Gonzalez added.
But Gonzalez also said she was concerned about the possibility that RALY might be accepted as a full member of Dwight Hall in the future.
“I would hope that Dwight Hall would make an effort to be clear about the definition of ‘social justice’ that they promote, rather than presenting themselves as an umbrella organization for all social justice endeavors,” Gonzalez wrote in an email to the News.
Dwight Hall Public Relations Coordinator Shea Jennings ’16 said the Dwight Hall Student Executive Committee has not yet voted on granting RALY provisional membership, a temporary yearlong status and pre-condition to full membership. Last spring, after a year of provisional membership status, CLAY was ultimately denied full membership when the Dwight Hall cabinet — comprised of member group leaders and the executive committee — voted against CLAY.
Though Jennings said she could not comment on any group currently lacking formal affiliation with Dwight Hall, she said last year’s events and the cabinet decision regarding CLAY would not impact any subsequent decision about RALY. Because RALY has not yet attained provisional membership, she said it is impossible to tell whether the group will even seek full membership in a year’s time. The composition of the Dwight Hall cabinet could also change depending on student leadership transitions, she said, adding that this prevents her from making any predictions.
“The body that voted on CLAY last spring will not be the same body that votes on RALY, should that vote even come up in the future,” Jennings said. “It’s hard to say.”
Women’s Center Public Relations Coordinator Annemarie McDaniel ’16 said RALY has been discussing the possibility of becoming a program affiliated to the Center. She added that although RALY has not yet begun the application process, the Women’s Center is pleased about the group’s launch and future projects. The Women’s Center, McDaniel said, would also be willing to support or supplement RALY’s efforts in the future.
RALY registered with the Yale College Dean’s Office on Sep. 26.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale only has one member. In fact, RALY has recruited 25 members so far.