The Mills chapter of Choice USA is collecting wire hangers to send to South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds in protest of the abortion ban passed in the state on Monday.
Attached to each hanger will be a ribbon bearing the name of one woman who has died from an illegal abortion.
"We basically are hoping to send a message to the governor that we do not agree that this law should have been passed and use it as a strong message of the dangers of outlawing abortions," said senior Jenny Torkildson, Choice USA member.
Stacia Mills, president of the club, said that they considered sending letters of opposition to Gov. Rounds but ultimately didn't think the letters would have much impact on him because the club members are not South Dakota residents.
"Receiving a box of hangers makes a powerful statement," Mills said.
In conjunction with the drive, the club is accepting donations. "If you don't have a hanger it's $1 a hanger," said Mills, "but you could always bring more than just one hanger or just $1, which would be great."
The $1 charge is to cover the costs of shipping, ribbons and possible supplementary hangers over whatever hanger donations they receive said Torkildson. According to Torkildson, they also hope to have some money left over so that they can donate it to Planned Parenthood in South Dakota. "That may change," Torkildson said, "as lawsuits gear up and focus shifts to supporting the legal struggle."
Choice USA hopes to receive about 5,000 hangers so they are strongly encouraging all in the community to participate. "I think it will be nice for the Mills community because it will tie a lot of people together and make them feel like they're doing their part to make a change in the U.S. and in the world," said Mills.
"We want to encourage them to change the law and recognize that women shoud have the right to choose," Torkildson said.
According to Torkildson, freshwoman Maia Johnson, the club member that thought up the hanger drive, will be obtaining the women's names from the Internet. The wire hanger drive starts March 8 and will continue through Spring Break. There are boxes for hanger donations in every dorm on campus as well as in the commuter's lounge. Choice USA representatives will be out on Adam's Plaza from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m. March 8th, 9th, and 13th collecting hangers.
Though it is still tentative, Choice USA is planning to throw a party in the Student Union after Spring Break that is labeled B.Y.O.W.H. (Bring Your Own Wire Hanger) as a play on B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Beer). Paying a dollar will allow you write one of the names on a ribbon and depending on the availability of the hangers you will be able to tie it on a hanger yourself said Torkildson. "There might be live music," said Mills.
According to Mills, the club is also hoping to get rid of some apathy around campus. "People are very busy in their own worlds and with their own work and sometimes they forget that there are bigger issues going on in the world that affect all of us," Mills said.
"I think this is a reminder to do your part. A lot of older women say that we younger women take for granted some of the rights that we have and this shows that we're not taking our rights for granted, we're going to show that we're willing to fight back just like our mothers and our grandmothers did," said Mills.
Choice USA recently finished a petition drive for Prevention First. This was organized to demand more comprehensive sex education in schools and better access to healthcare and contraceptives for women.
Choice USA is a politically active club that deals "with being pro-choice, which includes all reproductive health care and education. It is the concept that women should have the choice of when and if they want to have children, have access to health care (including contraceptives) and have realistic sex education within school systems," said Mills. The members of the club strive to raise community awareness and support of pro-choice legislations and agendas.