Danny Reinan, Staff Writer
Auggies Organizing for Choice, a new student organization centered around reproductive justice who is partnered with Planned Parenthood, held their kickoff meeting on Thursday, Sept. 19. After a strong start to the organization, Naheeda Riaz Ahamadeen, the President of the organization, is looking forward to more opportunities in the coming year.
Riaz Ahamadeen was inspired to start Auggies Organizing for Choice when she got an email from the Multicultural Student Services newsletter. “I saw a post about Planned Parenthood looking for interns,” she said. “I thought it seemed interesting, so I looked into it and applied. As it turned out, the opportunity was to partner with a student organization.” Ahamadeen had previously been involved with Women for Political Change, a student organization centered on womens’ empowerment which disbanded last year. She says that she already intended to start a new organization to fill the void that Women for Political Change left behind and this drive, combined with the posting from Planned Parenthood, came together to form the group. “I saw this as a great opportunity to do something that would have a lasting impact,” she said.
Auggies Organizing for Choice’s partnership with Planned Parenthood allows the student organization greater opportunities for community outreach than other organizations without that connection, and this partnership has already been a positive experience for Ahamadeen. “I like that they have these on-campus student organizations across the nation, but still allow them a lot of independence,” she said about the organization’s relationship with Planned Parenthood.
Ahamadeen intended to start Auggies Organizing for Choice last year, but because the Planned Parenthood opportunity was posted in Spring semester, she thought it would be too late to start a new organization, as she wouldn’t have the same momentum that many organizations get in the beginning of the Fall semester. Instead of establishing the organization right away, she decided to table for the remainder of the Spring semester in order to gauge interest. This turned out to be the right call – many people turned out to express their interest. Ahamadeen then connected with Riviera Him, who is now the Vice President of Auggies Organizing for Choice, and the two entered into the 2019-2020 school year confident about the prospects of their new organization.
Auggies Organizing for Choice is holding its first event, Cupcakes and Consent, on October 10. Students will be invited to discuss consent and boundary-setting in relationships, while also decorating their own cupcakes. Riaz Ahamadeen is also brainstorming possible future events on a variety of topics, including birth control, queer sex education, period stigma and reproductive justice for transgender people. She is hoping to collaborate in the future with Augsburg’s Sexual Misconduct Awareness Raising Team, the Women’s Resource Center, and as a partner to Planned Parenthood, she has many opportunities to bring in representatives from there to aid in events and education. Auggies Organizing for Choice is also hoping to bring in more board members to help bolster the growing organization. Because there has been so much interest, Riaz Ahamadeen is hoping to fill every position with multiple students. She says that she is looking for Community Liaisons, Communications Liaisons, and Treasurers to contribute their ideas and expertise.
“I know Augsburg is a liberal campus already,” said Ahamadeen, “so having this organization here may seem redundant, but there’s still things people don’t know about reproductive rights. It’s important because a lot of people know that reproductive justice is a thing, but don’t understand the ins and outs. There’s a lot people can learn about reproductive justice, and it’s especially important with the current administration we have. It’s something people need to be aware of no matter what the future looks like going forward.”
Auggies Organizing for Choice can be found on Auggie Life. Ahamadeen can be contacted at email@example.com, and the organization’s vice president, Riviera Him, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the October 4, 2019 issue.