“Democracy doesn’t happen just on election day.”
Sandra Fluke encouraged activism and involvement in her speech Monday, hosted by College Democrats.
Fluke, a lawyer and activist, first stepped into the national spotlight after testifying in front of Congress on issues surrounding affordable access to birth control. Following her testimony, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “prostitute” on his show in February 2012.
Her controversy with Limbaugh was only the start of an exciting year for Fluke, which included spearking at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in support of President Barack Obama. But, she said, it was passing the California bar exam after graduating from Georgetown University’s law school that was most exciting.
“If you’re looking for any motivation to study for exams, just imagine the people on Fox News are going to ridicule you if you fail,” she said with a laugh.
Much of her speech Monday focused on the importance of getting involved in causes that further equality.
“We’ve got an opportunity,” she said. “We’ve got members of all political parties listening to us .... We have an opportunity to make sure the policies that we care about are the ones that our elected leaders are advancing.”
She referred to students in the room and their peers across the country as members of a “pro-equality voting majority,” citing issues such as women’s rights, immigration reform, LGBT equality and social programs for the country’s poorest as areas needing special attention.
“They need to be all of our issues,” she said. “They impact all of us, and we have to all stand together on caring about how things are going for our brothers and sisters.”
Fluke highlighted a number of pending pieces of legislation and cases before the Supreme Court, including the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Paycheck Fairness Act. She encouraged audience members several times throughout the evening to contact their elected representatives, specifically asking them to support a proposed bill legalizing gay marriage in Illinois.
When asked if she would consider running for office, Fluke gave an ambiguous answer. Her initial response was phrased as a question, as she said, “I’d ask you if you were thinking about it too?”
She later added, “I have said that is something I’d possibly think about, if there is the right opportunity and the right time.”
Much of Fluke’s activist roots began as an undergraduate, where she got involved in many of the causes she champions today.
“It’s a time when we have a responsibility to step up because of our educational privilege and get involved.”
Her first steps into advocacy began when she wasn’t much older than many in the room, something Weinberg senior Brenda Chang seized upon.
“I’m not very politically involved, but after reading about the issues regarding women’s rights and [considering] I am entering the workforce soon, these things are going to affect me directly,” Chang said. “I want to understand what’s going on.”