Friday, January 15, 2010

Feminist Spotlight: Meghan Shalvoy, Stony Brook FMLA

Meghan Shalvoy, a recent graduate of Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY and the outgoing president of the Stony Brook Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, truly made the most of her final semester as a college activist. Meghan unrelentingly fought against anti-choice propaganda in the Stony Brook student newspaper and participated in FMF's Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics. She twice traveled to Washington, DC, lobbying members of Congress as part of the Coalition to Stop Stupak. In addition to serving as FMLA president, she is a member of the NOW-NYS Young Feminist Task Force. She graciously agreed to answer some of our questions in the first installment of our Feminist Spotlight series.

How did you come to consider yourself a feminist?

Although she never called it feminism, I was definitely raised to be a strong and independent woman by my mother. I came to call it feminism after a long discussion with my sister in my first year of college. My interest in women’s issues and feminist activism grew quickly and I changed my major to Women’s and Gender Studies the next year. At Stony Brook, this opened up the opportunity to intern with Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic in the fall of 2008. I began regularly attending FMLA meetings as a means to connect my internship with other feminist activities on campus.

What do you consider your achievements as the president of FMLA?

Elected at the end of the Spring 2009 semester, I was only president for a short period before graduating in December. In the fall semester though, we were able to organize another successful film series, this time focusing on representations of gender in horror films. In addition, SBU FMLA organized an informational campaign and petition against crisis pregnancy centers and other anti-choice advertising on campus.

What actions did you take to stop anti-choice propaganda on your campus, and what effect do you think those actions had?

In response to the circulation of the “icare” advertising pamphlet on our campus, we first created a fact sheet to counteract its harmful misinformation and lies. In addition we organized and circulated a petition to ask the campus newspaper to refuse such blatantly sensational and misleading advertising in the future. Using both paper copies and an online version of the petition, we spread the information and gathered signatures at various campus events, through e-mail listservs and Facebook, and received attention from at least three other campus newspapers. By the end of the semester, we had collected 165 signatures, and spread awareness and interest to hundreds more. As President of FMLA and organizer of the petition, I was targeted in a letter to a campus newspaper, The Stony Brook Press, written by the Long Island Coalition for Life. In response to the entire experience, I was asked to write a blog, which was published on RHRealityCheck.org.

How did your lobbying trips to Washington, DC affect your outlook on lawmaking and activism? What are your thoughts on the visit now that health care reform has passed the Senate and is headed into final negotiations?

Aside from what I learned from traveling to DC this winter, it was a tremendously inspirational experience for me as a woman, as a feminist, and as an activist. The feedback that we received from members of the House and Senate made me realize the value of activism, of showing up and making your voice heard. I learned so much from taking part in the process of lawmaking–which lobbying truly is—and also from interacting with veteran activists and leaders like Ellie Smeal and Cecile Richards. While we managed to pull the curtain back on Stupak and expose it for what it was—an attack on women and families—I am personally disappointed by some of the missed opportunities that could have made this health care reform bill truly great, such as taking out the public option and inclusion of the Nelson compromise in the Senate bill.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now I’m taking at least one semester off from school, although I hope to begin work on my Master’s in either Public Health or Midwifery in 2010 or 2011. I’m also hoping to find a job in the non-profit field organizing and advocating for reproductive justice and health issues.

This article was featured in our January 2010 monthly Choices eZine. Sign up for our alerts to stay up-to-date with the latest feminist news and to receive the monthly eZine.
If you would like to nominate a fabulous activist to be featured in our Feminist Spotlight series, please email campusteam@feminist.org.

2 comments:

Jerin said...

Yea Meghan! She also makes a great traveling companion ;) I had the pleasure of taking the BOLT bus with her during our Nov 18 lobbying trip to DC.

Meghan is one of the many people that make us proud to be young feminists.

Sincerely,
Jerin Alam
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force Co-Chair
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Blog: YoungFeministTaskForce.blogspot.com
Twitter: JerinAlam

Cecelia said...

It's encouraging to see young women like Meghan taking up the feminist cause. Too often I hear from young women (I am now 58 years old and from an older generation of feminists) who believe feminism is irrelevant to them -- that equality has come, and there is no longer a need to worry about fighting for women's rights. That is so far from the truth! Hooray for you, Meghan, and all you other new feminists out there. I'm proud of you, young sisters! You are our future, and we need you in this fight because it is far from over.

Welcome to the cause! Welcome to the fight, little sisters!