UT Austin students defend women’s and LGBTQ rights
Austin, TX – On Thursday evening, October 29, a group of around ten students gathered on the University of Texas at Austin campus to rally for women’s and LGBTQ rights. Led by the Austin Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the rally focused on student demands of the UT Austin administration, calling on the university to provide free menstrual products and contraceptives in all campus bathrooms. Students are also demanding the university declare itself a sanctuary campus for trans youth in light of legislative attacks earlier this year against trans youth receiving gender-affirming care.
The protest included the call and response chant: “Abortion is? Healthcare! Contraceptives are? Healthcare! Gender-affirming care is? Healthcare!”
Fawn-Rose Brown from the organization OSTEM (Out in STEM) spoke first: “Everyone deserves bodily autonomy,” they said. “The state of Texas as well as many other states are barring us from these rights. While the city of Austin has decriminalized abortion, the last time I checked most abortion providers in Austin are still bound by the state and aren’t operating. How are folks who can get pregnant supposed to get an abortion if none of the clinics are operating?”
Ashley Awad spoke for SDS: “UT has the second largest endowment in the country second only to Harvard. President Hartzell makes $1.25 million a year. That’s ridiculous, don’t you agree? So we must demand a chop from the top! Cut the pay of top administrators by even a little bit, and they could easily use the funds to provide free and well-stocked menstrual products and contraceptives in every building on campus.”
Student speakers pointed out the fact that UT at Arlington has already committed to providing free menstrual products in campus bathrooms as a direct result of pressure from the Progressive Student Union.
In reference to this, Awad concluded: “I think we can all agree that it is inexcusable for UT Austin not to do the same thing. Considering the position of power and influence UT is in, I think that it’s time for these things to change, don’t you?!” Awad’s question was met with cheers from all the other students at the rally.