BY CASSIEL MORONEY '19
Hampshire College hosted the 30th Civil Liberties & Public Policy program conference this weekend, titled “From Abortion Rights to Reproductive Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom.” Over 1,000 people attended the various workshops, meals, discussion groups, panels, exhibit tables, parties and plenaries organized from April 8 to 10.
The Civil Liberties & Public Policy program, which goes by CLPP, is 35 years old and based on Hampshire College campus. According to its mission statement, it is “dedicated to educating, mentoring, and inspiring new generations of advocates, leaders, and supporters.”
The program for the weekend included a private abortion speakout, closed and open discussion groups, an open mic, five time slots for workshops and a variety of evening programs. Workshop topics included economics, racism, rape culture, contraceptives, trans experiences, criminal justice, families, disability, art and quilting, amongst others. At certain workshops, attendees could perform Manual Vacuum Aspiration abortions on a papaya or view a gynecological assistant’s cervix.
Workshop attendees included professors, lecturers, educators, medical students, nurses, physicians, doulas, midwives and students from high school through graduate school. The majority were not from the Five College area, according to Marlene Gerber Fried, Hampshire College philosophy professor and faculty director of CLPP. There were approximately 170 speakers throughout the weekend and 1,100 attendees on Saturday afternoon. The CLPP conference is one of very few reproductive rights conferences and possibly the largest, said Fried.
“The purpose [of the conference] is to build a space and a community where we can talk about, actually have conversation and dialogue about reproductive justice as an idea, thinking about how we can [expand] it, thinking about what it is, because I don’t think that there are a lot of those spaces,” said Namrata Jacob, Hampshire division II student.
The event was about “bringing new people to the movement, making the movement more diverse, in every possible way — age, ethnicity, culture, class,” said Fried.
“CLPP is one of the most accessible conferences that I have ever been to,” Jacob added.
“It’s not geared towards academics, it’s really about making sure that we’re all coming in and ... meeting each other on the same level that we are and making sure that everyone is able to find a place in the movement. And I think that’s part of the important work that we do," said Fried.
Various measures were taken to ensure the diversity and accessibility that Jacob and Fried spoke of. Registration was free with a suggested donation, free childcare and meals were provided, and quiet as well as scent-safe seating was available. Spanish interpreters were available throughout the conference.
Arianna Berndt-Evans came all the way from Virginia to attend CLPP. “I came to this conference because ... it aligns with my interests in a way that stuff in the DC area doesn’t really,” she said. “This seemed like a very unique opportunity that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t have this access to coming up here ... just the idea of being able to meet a bunch of different people who share my interests and can teach me about issues that aren’t really talked about as much in my area was really appealing to me.”
Hampshire College hosts the CLPP conference every April. During the remainder of the year, CLPP offers paid summer internships, a leadership and training network, support for student activism groups and academic classes at Hampshire.