By Bex Hyman, 2016-2017 Campus Leader at Guilford College
My name is Bex Hyman and I am one of the newest Campus Leaders for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina!
Nuzzled in Greensboro, North Carolina is the small, Quaker, liberal arts school of Guilford College. Guilford College is a home and a community I am honored to have been a part of for three years now.
As well as being a Campus Leader for NARAL Pro-Choice NC, I am also an overly enthusiastic member of the Guilford College Peer Mentor Program, an off centered cross-stitch creator, a lumpy hand built ceramic pot aficionado, wild clay harvester, and struggling cook in the art of zoodles.
As I embark on the adventure that is my senior year of college as a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sociology double major, I challenge myself to honor and give back to the college that has aided me on a journey to find and explore my passions.
As a Quaker based institution, Guilford College is guided by the seven core values of community, diversity, equality, excellence, integrity, justice and stewardship. As an ode to both myself and to an institution that has helped to craft me into a free thinker, an active member of my community, a speaker and a listener, an advocate and a leader; I accepted the opportunity to become a Campus Leader for NARAL Pro-Choice NC for the 2016-2017 academic year.
A week ago, I was eagerly awaiting the beginning of my first event on campus. A twang of nerves hit me once my table was set up.
“What if I mess this up?”
“What if I don’t actually know what I am talking about?”
“What if I offend somebody?”
Doubts began to fill my mind. I rarely feel nervous in my Guilford College community, but when I am challenged to be an “expert” on a topic, I begin to question my own knowledge. I feel as if I must have all of the answers to even begin to claim that I have a voice worthy enough to share this information.
These doubts were silenced within minutes of talking with students I had collaborated with during my college career. People were excited and enthusiastic about the work I was doing. They asked questions, and I felt as if I could reply with answers of substance. I am by no means an expert, but I also didn’t claim to be. If I didn’t have an answer, I didn’t pretend to. Instead, I found a reference online that would have an informative answer.
Honestly, I didn’t really expect people to engage with me very much at all. This was shown by originally printing out enough All* Above All petition sheets for 40 people to sign in support of repealing the Hyde Amendment. Forty people during a Guilford College lunch rush seemed ambitious to me considering the Guilford College student body is around 1,500 people and the questionable lasagna was on the menu for that day.
About two and a half hours later, I had collected 109 signatures, covered every petition sheet front and back, heard stories from numerous women of their experience with Medicaid and/or abortion, handed out plenty of informational flyers and was left wiped out of buttons, brownies, pins, temporary tattoos (a personal favorite), condoms, and nail art stickers.
I walked away from the event feeling accomplished and energized by my college community. While I was not expecting push back from the community, I was not truly expecting to be embraced and celebrated. It became ever more apparent to me that talking about abortion, talking about reproductive justice, and talking about inclusive sex education is upholding and, in my opinion, honoring the Quaker core values that Guilford College prides itself on. The collaboration of NARAL Pro-Choice NC and universities and colleges across the state is helping to break down stigma and open safer spaces for people to share their stories and reach for resources when they need them.
I look forward to continuing my work with NARAL Pro-Choice NC in collaboration with the Guilford College community. With this part of the semester coming to a close, I feel I am better equipped to take on this next half with force. I am eager, engaged and my confidence is growing. I will be writing an op-ed for a local Greensboro Newspaper on the Hyde Amendment, I plan on hosting a movie screening, and making a zine as a statewide resource for students on college campuses.
This internship is pushing me outside of my comfort zone, pushing me to interact with new people, and pushing me to grow. This is hands on learning at its finest and this is, truly, invigorating.
Updates on campus organizing at Guilford College and the mastering of zoodle creation coming at you all year long!
Until next time,