In a vote last Wednesday, Choose Life at Yale (CLAY) was denied membership at the school’s Social Justice Network. The group has been the first to be denied membership in Dwight Hall, which is a non-profit organization at Yale.
The organization has its own website, which describes itself:
The Social Justice Network (SJN) of Dwight Hall at Yale is a coalition of organizations and individuals working for social justice and social change at Yale, in New Haven, and beyond. SJN is dedicated to building a community among those who identify themselves as working for social justice, while helping activists develop skills necessary to achieve this change. SJN is a resource center, providing the space for dialogue and cooperation, creating and maintaining links to other organizations. Click here to learn more about the history of the Social Justice Network.
CLAY was a provisional member of SJN for the past year and engaged in many successful projects and endeavors as a club. Yale Daily News reported:
Members of the Social Justice Network, including Johnson, encouraged CLAY to apply for Dwight Hall provisional membership in fall 2013, citing the group’s volunteer work at Saint Gianna Center — a local crisis pregnancy center on Whitney Avenue — as community service.
CLAY regularly sends its members to volunteer at Saint Gianna Center, a nonprofit organization that provides resources and education for pregnant women, Michaels said. In addition to offering free pregnancy tests and assistance in obtaining baby supplies, the center helps expecting mothers find housing and employment as needed, she added. The center ensures that women who wish to keep their pregnancies have the ability to do so, McEachon said.
And now, because of their denial, CLAY does not have access to membership privileges such as funding, vehicles, printing and meeting space. Hernandez expressed disappointment and frustration over the decision, “…especially after having gone through this year-long provisional process…” The two other groups which applied for membership status, New Haven REACH and Circle of Women, gained full membership.
Present at the vote was a “Yale feminists” t-shirt, worn by co-coordinator of Dwight Hall, Teresa Logue. The junior claimed that she did not let her political bias interfere with the vote and that CLAY was treated the same way as other groups.
CLAY noticed the bias though, and Courtney McEachon, president of the club last year, said that they felt as if they were not respected and that the t-shirt “seemed like a shameless plug against CLAY.”
Other students took lengths to act out against CLAY, including the Yale chapter American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a group which does enjoy membership status at Dwight Hall. Campus Reform mentions that Andre Manuel, chair of the chapter, wrote in opposition to CLAY having membership status, as it would “divert funds away from groups that do important work pursuing actual social justice.” It is not so much for students to identify themselves if they working for social justice then, despite the description from Dwight Hall’s website. Apparently groups like ACLU, which promotes abortion, and whose founder was in strong support of the practice, are the ones to dictate what “actual social justice” is.
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And here is where the outrage lies. It is not just in that the pro-life group was the one group ever to be denied status. Those in favor of abortion fail to allow their opponents even a platform for that dialogue or the right to that cooperation also explained on Dwight Hall’s website.
For those who consider abortion in a manner that acknowledges how complex the issue truly is, they are the ones able to understand and think clearly. Opponents of life are not only biased, with such t-shirts and op-ed pieces as a few examples, but narrow minded. Perhaps they are afraid of discussion, but they are also the ones in power to deny those who dissent equal status. Those deciding who is in or out of Dwight Hall need not behave in such an unprecedented manner. They may even learn a thing or two about a kind of social justice outside the comfort zone for most of them.