Taking action with Generation Action

Generation Action is a club at UAA that is dedicated to raising awareness on reproductive freedom, sexual violence, Planned Parenthood and other related topics. They also host events such at Take Back the Night, and work to educate women and men on healthy sexuality and relationships.

One of the main reasons that people join Generation Action is because they want to raise awareness on Planned Parenthood or sexual assault. Others join because they see the benefits that organizations like Planned Parenthood provide and they want to make sure these services are continually being offered to others.

Cat Schoessler, secretary of Generation Action, explains that her reasons for joining are very personal.

“I just think that everybody should have access to health care and that everybody should feel safe on campus. When I was growing up, Planned Parenthood was the place that I would go to if I needed to get my HPV vaccinations, if I needed to talk to anybody about something, if I needed to get birth control. I recognize that they are doing that every single day with other women and I want to make sure they stay a thing no matter who is president or involved in the legislation,” Schoessler said.

Moira Pyhala, President of Generation Action, grew up in Soldotna with Schoessler. Pyhala explains that Planned Parenthood is a very valuable resource for individuals and that the Alaskan people might actually need the services more than other states.

“The Planned Parenthood in our town [Soldotna] actually recently became de-funded to two days a week. They cover four different towns: Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling, and Nikiski. And any surrounding areas, which is about 8,000 people. That’s ridiculous because Alaska has some of the highest rates of STIs in the country and our sexual assault rate is 2.5 times higher than the rest of the nation. This organization, in some ways, can be one of the only resources for young women,” Pyhala said.

Other members of the club joined due to the organizations welcoming nature. Suzanne Snyder, member of Generation Action, explains the warmth that attracted her to the group as well as the importance of Planned Parenthood and other groups like it.

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“They seemed really friendly toward each other, very welcoming to all sorts of different opinions, encouraging people to learn more about what Planned Parenthood is and what they do for everyone and the services they offer. Abortion is not the only service that they offer, Planned Parenthood also offers so many different health services that many women need,” Snyder said.

Schoessler explains that these resources can actually help to prevent abortions if used effectively.

“The thing that makes me most frustrated when people are upset that Planned Parenthood provides abortions is the fact that the rest of their services prevent abortions,” Schoessler said.

There is a stigma among some men that these issues are solely for women and that men have no place involving themselves in the issues. However, Alex Jorgensen, Club council representative for Generation Action, explains that men should get involved in order to help combat these societal problems.

“People commonly perceive domestic violence or sexual assault as women’s issues, but they are not just women’s issues. They are everyone’s issues because they affect society as a whole and the functioning of society. It’s really important for men to have an active role in the fight against domestic violence and sexual assault…The reason I joined is because I think it’s important for men to stand up and say that these issues are my issues too,” Jorgensen said.

If reproductive rights are important to you and you would like to get involved in your community and on campus, you can contact Generation Action at [email protected] The club meets bi-weekly in the upper Student Union.

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista