by Heidi Massey | Staff Writer
Generation Action, a Planned Parenthood affiliated student group, is beginning the fall semester as a newly chartered ASWU club.
Until May of this year, Generation Action existed unofficially at Whitworth, lacking the full privileges of an Associated Students of Whitworth University club. Students such as Jordan Coleman, Generation Action’s current president, wanted to change that.
“When I found out that we were not allowed to be on campus, I thought that was wrong,” Coleman said.
Whitworth’s formal relationship with Planned Parenthood, an establishment that provides affordable healthcare as well as abortions, has been altered in recent years. In April of 2017, President Beck Taylor made the decision to dissolve the university’s partnership with Planned Parenthood. Whitworth ceased to offer internships and volunteer credit through the organization. In light of this cutting of ties between Planned Parenthood and Whitworth, Generation Action has struggled to become an official club.
Students have tried and failed to get Generation Action chartered in the past. This spring, however, with the help of Whitworth’s vice president for Student Life, Rhosetta Rhodes, students created a proposal that would honor Whitworth’s values as a university. Despite Whitworth’s 2017 administrative decision regarding Planned Parenthood, Generation Action gained approval from ASWU, and is now recognized as one of Whitworth University’s clubs.
Among the goals of Generation Action are inclusivity, sexual education, and political involvement.
“Generation Action is inclusive of all people without regard to your culture, your ethnic status, your sexuality, your gender,” said Coleman. Her main goal as president is to implement a sexual education course for all students, focusing on incoming students first so they feel ready to enter college life.
Jesse Brinson-Wagner, Generation Action’s vice president, said the club hopes to engage with larger issues at local, state, and federal levels, adding that they will be doing a voter registration drive later this month. He believes that Generation Action has the potential to thrive at Whitworth, and thinks that students and faculty are understanding of its purpose.
“Generation Action’s mission is to make sure that people have the knowledge to engage in sexual behavior safely, if that’s what they choose to do.” Brinson-Wagner said, though he also noted that the club does not encourage violation of Whitworth’s policy regarding cohabitation.
Given Planned Parenthood’s prominent pro-choice stance on abortion, among other issues, the presence of Generation Action on campus presents new opportunities for discourse among students. This was expressed by Students for Life president Claire Longsworth, who says she anticipates having good dialogue this school year.
“Honestly it’s a little bit exciting for us too, just to have the other voice being heard and more present,” Longsworth said. “Nothing productive happens if there is only one side of the conversation.”
She also speculated that there may be instances in which Students for Life can come alongside Generation Action, adding “I think there’s some commonality that we can work off of that will help further our own group’s goals.”
While different groups may vary drastically on certain issues, each club has the shared power to interact with the campus community in a way that is meaningful to its members. Generation Action will now have the ability to do just that. Its new status as an official club represents not only a different set of views and goals, but also one of the many ways Whitworth students are making their voices heard.