by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
A Dickinson student-leader recently traveled to the White House to discuss the effects of a recent Supreme Court ruling on college-age populations. Grace MacDougall ’24 was among the select student representatives who took part in a roundtable discussion, hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris, on reproductive rights.
The Friday, Oct. 14, event began at the American Council of Education, where MacDougall met with the 69 other student-leaders. They discussed the June 2022 Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, popularly known as “the Dobbs decision," which ruled that the Constitution does not confer the right to abortion, overturning a nearly half-century-old legal precedent (Roe v. Wade). The students also discussed the importance of voting, in light of Dobbs, and the ways that state-based abortion laws affect students differently, depending on their home state.
From there, the students traveled to the White House’s Executive Office building and met with the vice president and her staff. After Harris spoke about the impacts of the Dobbs decision as it is felt on college and university campuses across the United States, the student-leaders split up into small groups so they could share their own thoughts and experiences with members of the vice president’s council.
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with 70 student-leaders from across the U.S. Photo courtesy of the White House.
It was an exceptional opportunity for MacDougall, who was selected to attend based on her related scholarship and activism. In high school, she learned about and advocated for women’s rights and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. At Dickinson, she continues that work as a double major in women’s, gender & sexuality studies and Japanese and as a student event coordinator for the Office of LGBTQ Services. Last spring, MacDougall combined what she’s learning in both majors in a research paper on reproductive injustices in Japanese internment camps during World War II. Last summer, she served an internship at the reproductive-justice organization ReproRising.
“It was truly inspiring to see Vice President Harris and hear her discuss the issues young people are facing with the Dobbs decision," says MacDougall. "And it was incredibly heart-warming to hear her bring up issues of trans folks, regarding bodily autonomy over gender-affirming care." But the best part, she adds, was meeting with fellow student activists from across the U.S. As she puts it, "Especially with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the decision that abortion rights are now state-given, it's more important than ever to listen to what other students in other states are going through."
Published October 21, 2022