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Student Perspective on Kamala Harris Visit to Bryn Mawr

November 1, 2022
Image of Emme Law and Rachel Levine
Emme Law with U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine

Emme Law '24, an anthropology major from Langhorne, Pa., writes about her experience at the Kamala Harris event. Photos, video, and more from the event here.

When I found out the Vice President was coming to Bryn Mawr College, I was so excited. I was even more excited that Kamala Harris had chosen my college to speak about reproductive rights. That same day, I found out that I would actually be attending the event held in Bryn Mawr's Goodhart Theater. I would be in the same room as the first female and person of color Vice President!

That day on campus was nerve racking. Being in a room with so many women in positions of power was a memorable and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I could feel the passion and support for reproductive rights and a person's right to choose both in the audience and upon the stage.

Pennsylvania is facing a pivotal crossroads with the upcoming election. Hearing from so many influential women about how they are demanding equality and equity comforted me. The overturning of Roe v. Wade has many more implications than just the attack on the right to abortions. This precedent sets the stage for the rollback of many crucial civil rights wins. The right to same-sex marriage, the right to contraception, and even labor rights and religious freedoms are up for revocation.

Many other state and federal representatives were heard from before Vice President Harris took the stage, one notable speaker being the United States Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine.

Personally, seeing Dr. Levine, was a surreal experience. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, I remember she was the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and I would watch her speak at the press conferences talking about the updates about the virus.

Dr. Levine was a great addition to the panel of speakers as she diversified the assemblage by being a woman who is openly part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Dr. Levine is the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by senate. Being a queer student that is looking to go into the public health profession, I was ecstatic being able to meet someone whom I have looked up to for many years (I also was able to get a selfie with her!).

As a Pennsylvania resident, this is a scary time for reproductive rights. The right to bodily autonomy is a major topic of debate between the two gubernatorial candidates, both of whom are cismen who have no right to choose what a uterus owner does with their body. Vice President Harris addressed this saying that government leaders have no place in the matter of what a person does with their body.

When asked about people losing their right to bodily autonomy, Vice President Harris responded with “Let’s fight together. I strongly believe nobody should be made to fight alone.” The crowd erupted with applause after that statement. Many times the government does not hold the same views and/or values as the vast majority of American citizens, but knowing that the Vice President is willing to make change and believes in a person's right to choose is a step in the right direction.

Another important question that Congresswoman Scanlon posed to Vice President Kamala Harris was what message she had for the young people in the room to which The Vice President responded with “Do what you are already doing.” Vice President Harris said she knows Bryn Mawr College is full of leaders and said that the “the best movements in our country that have been about the expansions of rights, in my opinion, have been led by students and certainly fueled by students. So, do what you do and thank you.”

Within that same speech she said that the world needs us, the students, to keep doing what we are doing and that she was there to thank us for what we have been doing. This was amazing to hear as a student activist myself. To know that I have the support of such powerful women within the government was reassuring.

I will keep this moment not only as a memory but as fuel to continue to fight for reproductive rights and equality for all humans, knowing I have Vice President Kamala Harris as well as other women within the government fighting alongside me.