The URGE for equality

Jessica Harker, Managing Editor

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United for Reproductive and Gender Equality, an organization new to the University of Toledo, is working to become an official student group for the Fall 2017 semester.

URGE has been active on campus for the past year, working with organizations such as the University of Toledo Feminist Alliance to raise awareness for reproductive health issues, according to Tayler Threatt, a third-year speech and language pathology major and the voter engagement intern with the group.

“Right now, it’s a bigger thing on BG campus, and it’s extremely new to Toledo,” Threatt said. “So we’ve been getting it out to the community, and this semester we have seen a bigger push to get it to people who are on campus.”

Since coming to the University of Toledo, URGE has been involved in putting on a number of events, according to Threatt, including a monthly Sex Trivia Night.

The final trivia night for the year will be held Saturday, April 29 at Bretz Nightclub in downtown Toledo. The theme for the night is BDSM, and prizes are given for first- and second-place teams, as well as for best team name.

“People are uncomfortable talking about sex, people are uncomfortable saying the word sex or what it entails,” Threatt said. “So people can come out, win prizes and kind of understand their comfort level with things.”

This is the fourth time this event has been hosted this year, according to Threatt, and it has seen a growth in attendance since it began last semester.

“At our last one, we had about six teams out, and generally teams are like 3-5 people,” Threatt said. “We had it on campus, and all of our chairs were full.”

Threatt stresses that the event is important because it raises awareness about reproductive and gender equality issues, while simultaneously raising money for URGE to be able to do their work since the organization is nonprofit.

“I think it is really fun. When we have it at Bretz, people can get up, get drinks,” Threatt said. “So I’m hoping for the last one, this one will be a pretty big turnout.”

The group will continue to be active during the summer, according to Threatt, with a multitude of volunteer opportunities for UT students.

“URGE is like UTFA’s big sibling,” wrote Jessie Lynch, the president of the University of Toledo Feminist Alliance and Toledo organizer and data manager for URGE, in an email interview. “As an affiliate, we are able to connect and get support from URGE and FMF organizers, as well as get materials like URGE condoms and other swag.”

URGE has already attempted to become an official student organization, Threatt said, though was denied due to a possible issue with the already existing group UTFA.

According to Threatt, the organization is working at a national level to get approval to apply again in the fall for official student group status.

“I think it’s important to always be aware of the potential for overstepping the boundaries of grassroots organizations that we should be uplifting, as opposed to creating competition,” Lynch said. “Since UTFA is already affiliated with URGE, I personally believe it would have been unnecessary and harmful to have an URGE chapter on campus when the URGE-affiliated UTFA is already there.”

Lynch explained that while it is important that URGE continue to grow, creating an official branch at UT could potentially hurt progress being made by current grassroots organizations.

“It could potentially derail the community UTFA has been working to build,” Lynch said. “Grassroots organizations, feminist or otherwise, should be supported by national organizations, not put in competition with them.”

The two groups do have very similar platforms, according to Lynch, including a focus on reproductive and gender equality for all people.

“URGE and UTFA both believe in social, political and economic equity of all people, regardless of identity,” Lynch said. “Both are pro-choice, sex-positive, intersectional organizations that acknowledge that social movements should be led by the marginalized folks that are most affected by inequitable policy and social norms.”

Threatt stressed that the main difference between URGE and UTFA is the group’s ability to organize, because URGE is national, as well as that URGE is more all-inclusive.

“UTFA definitely it does focus on feminism and what it is, and they have been trying to get the word out… But, however, with URGE, it’s not just one thing; it’s kind of everything.” Threatt said.

URGE will continue to be active on campus, regardless of organizational status within the fall, according to Threatt.

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The URGE for equality