It was during a sex and gender course last fall when NYU sophomore Danielle Murray realized the extent of gender inequality in our society and became empowered to act on it.
As a Global Public Health and Sociology double major, she had always wanted to pursue social work and get involved with social justice activism, especially in regards to health and marginalized communities. But after taking the class, Danielle decided she wanted to focus her efforts towards gender equality and she knew that Planned Parenthood, an organization known for its activism in women’s reproductive health, would be the perfect platform for her to join.
After months of debating it, Murray, who grew up mostly in Pleasantville, New York, decided to take a step back from NYU’s track team for a semester to focus her energy on her activism and start a chapter of Voices for Planned Parenthood at NYU–a hard but worthwhile decision.
We recently sat down to talk to Murray about her experience at NYU, the NYU chapter of Voices for Planned Parenthood that she founded this semester, and how students can get involved with the chapter.
HC NYU: First, tell us a little about your experience at NYU so far!
DM: It has honestly been such an amazing experience. Coming to this school has been the best decision I’ve made, I’ve met so many people who have taught me so much about different cultures. I come from a predominantly white community and didn’t have much exposure to others, any diversity. It was really refreshing to learn more about myself, how I identify with my culture and what diversity means to me. I’ve also received so many opportunities, I still get to see my family. And track has been also been an awesome experience.
HC NYU: So tell us, what is Voices for Planned Parenthood?
DM: So, Voices for Planned Parenthood is part of a national organization called Planned Parenthood generation action. It’s a program that energizes and mobilizes young people to advocate for reproductive rights.
HC NYU: And what made you want to start a chapter at NYU?
DM: So I was looking for any way that I could join a group that was dedicated to social justice. I began researching on the Planned Parenthood’s website and started looking for a way to join. They have a weekly activist council in the city, but I wanted more of a home base, something that could become a daily thing for me and my friends. I noticed that there were no official chapters of Voices for PP in the city at all, so I thought why not try and start it myself at NYU?
HC NYU: How did you go about it?
DM: I looked into how to start a chapter, and then quickly began the petition process to start a chapter of Voices for PP at NYU. When I really wanted to go after it, I only had 11 days to hand in the application, so it was a bit hectic but in the end it was successful. We are officially an all-university club, though we are still on a trial period for the Student Activities Board since it’s new. There are still a few administrative things left to do.
HC NYU: What first inspired you to become actively involved?
DM: After I took a sex and gender class at the sociology department I kind of realized I had no idea how gender inequality is reinforced and how seamlessly so, but it is constantly reinforced and once that transitions into healthcare that’s really a big issue. On top of these things just being perpetuated, I then thought about the intersection I’m a black woman, and how certain communities are really disenfranchised and departments like health care which is something that should be universal. So it was a very influential class for me.
I also come from a single parent all female household and that has really been really empowering for my development and it has given me a lot of motivation to stick with this goal of going through with this club and wanting to make it a national chapter, and it’s really added to my passion and drive.
HC NYU: What are some of your plans for Voices for Planned Parenthood at NYU?
DM: Ultimately, I’d love to be able to partner with the health center for the welcome back each semester and help provide free STD testing, but that’s a long term goal. We’re also working on being officially recognized as an official national chapter in order to have a more direct connection to the organization in order to work more hand in hand with them. I also want to invite some people from the organization to speak to us, I want to do some fundraise, or continue to collect feminine care products for homeless women as we have done in the past, or even go to shelters.
HC NYU: So tell us, for those looking to join, what would a club meeting or event look like?
DM: I get updates from PP all the time, so at meetings, we would keep it current just so we stay informed. With regards to activism, I would want some events to be writing letters, postcards, setting time aside to call representatives. And I do want to keep a creative element to the club. For example, we hosted a gallery that showcased female artists and works that celebrated women, so I also want it to be partially praise, because I think that’s really important, just to celebrate women.
HC NYU: That sounds amazing. Now for a broader question, as an activist and someone so involved with PP, what are your thoughts on the current administration? How do you think PP might struggle or prevail throughout this time?
DM: I think the actions of the current administration are quite disheartening but, I think that’s why a lot of action is starting to increase to counter the injustice that has been taking place. I think that if more people continue to fundraise, advocate and feel inspired to assist in the efforts of organizations like, PP, they will be able to prevail through it. But, there is a lot of action that needs to take place on just an interpersonal level for that process to be successful. Once more people start speaking up, learning about fellow ways they can get involved I really do think they can get through the consequences of this administration.
HC NYU: And finally, for those looking to get involved, are there any events or meetings coming up?
DM: Yes! On Thursday April 27th we’re going to hold a creative and artistic outlet for people, we’re setting up on the stage Washington Square Park at 7pm for people to come and write letters to powerful women in our lives. We’re letting it be a time for people to come and share stories and if people feel comfortable, save the letters and display them at our next event. The event is open to everyone, and it’ll be a great chance for people to get to know the e-board, the club, and the services provided by PP.
HC NYU: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
DM: Just that none of this would be possible without the support of so many people. Especially with the 11 day deadline and the 200 signatures that we needed, people kept signing on the back and it was totally filled, so I’m excited and I think it’s going to go really well!
To sign up for the club: https://orgsync.com/158286/chapter
Hometown: Pleasantville in Westchester, NY
Favorite movie: Clueless
Favorite music artist: Rihanna or Beyonce
Book recommendation: The Complete Poetry by Maya Anglou
Favorite food: Choy Mein