The West Virginia University community held a rally for reproductive rights on campus Thursday.
Students, faculty, and workers at WVU say they are frustrated with the university administration’s response to recent developments in reproductive rights, specifically the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, as well as last month’s passage of HB 304 in the state legislature.
Graduate student Ellie Aerts, who helped organize Thursday’s rally in front of Woodburn Hall on WVU’s downtown Morgantown campus, said the rally was meant to provide a sense of community for students on campus as well as gather signatures for a petition.
“I’m hoping that the administration will not only put out a statement, acknowledging that those things happened and help students just grieve that,” she said. “But also, there are accommodations that the university can make to help prevent the need for abortions, as well as help students obtain abortions in other states.”
Organizers hope to send a similar petition to both the state legislature and Congress.
Politics were a particular focus of speakers at the rally. State delegates Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, and Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, both spoke, as did current Morgantown city council member Ixya Vega and former council member Barry Wendell.
All four politicians spoke about the importance of the upcoming election in November. That resonated with temp library worker V Konopka, who uses they/them pronouns.
“There’s a large concentration of young people here, and these are the people who are voting, who are a change making in our communities, they are a huge part of the Morgantown community as well,” they said. “These are also people who may not have been able to receive sexual health education in their formative years of school. And so this is an opportunity to educate people on the science of abortion, but also on their rights that they have and the power that they have.”