Today we feature Alexis Thompson, who goes by Lex, from Lawnside, NJ (Camden County). They are a senior, first-generation college student and Psychology major with a minor in Africana Studies and a focus on reproductive justice. Lex transferred to Rowan from Hampton University in Spring of 2018. Lex tells us about Generation Action, what their goals are and what resources are available.
What is Generation Action?
Generation Action is a youth organization under Planned Parenthood that fights for the reproductive rights of the youth and others across the nation. We try to mobilize our advocates and volunteers by doing event planning, talking to legislators, working closely with state policy and just learning how to do different grassroots, organizing and activism in volunteer work.
Why pursue being the president?
I actually got my start with Generation Action while I was at Hampton. Another student reached out to me when I retweeted one of their posts on reproductive rights and asked me to attend a conference. From there I applied for an e-board position and got director of peer counseling. So when I left Hampton and I came here, where we also have Generation Action and since I am very passionate about it, I tried it and I have been the president for the last three years now.
What does Generation Action do?
We work specifically and closely with Planned Parenthood. We educate our members and we try to educate those who aren’t members — students, faculty or administration. We’ll program on social media outreach and from there we just try to make sure that we’re putting out of what Planned Parenthood wants us to.
Generation Action helps us as youth learn about reproductive rights through a reproductive justice lens. There is a difference between the two. Reproductive rights is [advocacy] around reproductive healthcare to make sure it is successful to make sure that they are protected, focusing on birth control, family planning, abortion, emergency contraceptives and STD testing. So those are the rights we are trying to protect while reproductive justice goes beyond that and starts to include a lot of work with social justice, racial and criminal justice. There are multiple aspects going into reproductive justice.
What kind of events are help at Rowan?
We do an annual consent week where we do various events in programming around around consent like consent 101, comprehensive sex education and more. We also participate in Take Back the Night to let students know that there is an organization that cares about you and has resources while also being a safe space.
This year Consent Week will start on Nov. 9, and it will be held virtually. We are keeping our members in mind and are planning something big even though it is virtual. It is going outside the realms of sexual assault and rape. It is going to be about consent overall when it comes to policy, the healthcare system and medicine — how those systems affect our bodies, how they have violated our bodies without our consent and have taken so much from us without our consent. We are going beyond that and we are getting great guest speakers.
What is your most meaningful experience that you have had at your position?
In my position, it would be working with the different members and their backgrounds and learning new things. Things that I did not know before that are outside of myself. As a black queer woman I know about my section of the community. I know what the black community is like from my perspective, I know what the LGBTQ+ community is like from my perspective and being a woman. But then I have members who are men and members who are from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. I have people that are different genders, just an array of people that come in and to just learn and hear their experiences, it adds quality to my life.
It gives me more knowledge it makes me more cognizant of what’s going on in the world. And it gives me a better idea for the people who may not be able to fight for themselves or may need help to fight for themselves or just need support to fight for themselves.
What is it like being a leader?
Everyone says that I am a natural born leader. With me I am honestly very shy and outspoken as I do seem. So given this leadership position, it taught me that being a leader is not easy, it is extremely hard. You try to make the right moves and sometimes it was right, sometimes it was not. Some things are successful and some are not. You either get members or you don’t.
It is all just a learning process, and I believe that with learning that not only have I learned to operate better my life on a personal level, but I have even in a professional level just trying to put on events, who you want to be there and how to talk to them and how to sell your work. You have to make it sound good so that people want to invest in what you are doing. So I have just gotten a lot of amazing opportunities out of this experience alone. I am super grateful for who I have met, everyone that I met and the work that I have done with the help of so many people that have been supporting me.
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Story and photography by:
Stephanie Batista, sophomore music industry major