ODC to Charter Reproductive Justice Alliance

Members of the Oberlin Doula Collective’s Leadership Circle are working to charter a new organization on campus called the Reproductive Justice Alliance. While much of ODC leadership will be involved with RJA, the new group will not replace ODC. 

“The Reproductive Justice Alliance is open to all Oberlin students,” reads the RJA charter. “Membership will function as working groups led by each officer. Students are encouraged to join the working groups based on their interests and skill sets to put together events and resources for members of the general Oberlin community to interact with and learn from.”

RJA — unlike ODC, which is not a chartered organization — will receive funding from the Student Finance Committee, which draws from the Student Activities Fund and is only available to chartered student organizations. 

College fourth-year and member of the ODC Leadership Circle Vanessa Baker said that the decision to introduce a chartered organization was largely driven by a desire to receive financial support from the College.

“Especially after [President Carmen Twillie] Ambar has been saying she’s pro-repro[ductive] justice … we thought that now would be a good time to really … let the College put their money where their mouth is,” Baker said.

Baker also said that reproductive justice spaces have historically been very white, and RJA leadership hopes to encourage more students of color to engage and take up leadership roles within the organization. 

Unlike ODC, RJA will focus less on individual support services and more on activism and awareness. Its charter describes the outline for RJA’s work as being “three-pronged,” focusing on education and awareness, fundraising, and political research. 

RJA will provide its members with opportunities to host workshops and teach-ins about topics related to reproductive justice they are passionate about. It hopes to expand beyond just abortion access to a variety of reproductive justice topics. 

In the vein of fundraising, Baker said that RJA leadership hopes to host an event within the next few months to raise money for either the Abortion Fund of Ohio or the Midwest Abortion Coalition.

In an email to the College community in the wake of the Student Health Center’s shift to Harness Health this summer, President Ambar wrote that the College was planning partnerships with ODC. Given ODC’s now-reduced scale, Baker hopes that the Reproductive Justice Alliance will take on some of those partnerships. She said that RJA’s leadership team hopes to speak with Vice President and Dean of Students Karen Goff in future weeks to solidify the details of collaboration between the organization and the College. 

While ODC’s operations will be scaled back, at least in the short term, the organization will remain active. DoulaCo, an ExCo which goes into the spring semester doula trainings, is still being taught this semester, and according to Baker, ODC plans to hold additional doula trainings in the spring.