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From Our Incoming President:
The SPSSI Community as a Source of Pride
Abigail Stewart, Incoming President, University of Michigan
Although I was a little anxious about attending our annual conference this summer, for the first time in person since the pandemic started. I was also excited to encounter the SPSSI community that has sustained me over a very long career, and to learn about Puerto Rico. In fact, all of that happened, and reminded me of the very best of what SPSSI means to me.
At the policy preconference, I learned how ignorant I had been of Puerto Rican history and contemporary issues, and throughout the rest of the conference I learned even more! I also had a chance to hear and talk with our colleagues in Puerto Rico, who are working so hard, in difficult conditions, to make a difference in their country. It was sobering, but also inspiring.
Partly because I am the incoming President, and partly just because so many great sessions were happening, I tried to attend a session during every single time-slot throughout the conference. Although this was, of course, tiring, the energy I gained from my sense that important work was going on in so many places—innovating teaching, policy advocacy, and powerful research on the important social issues of our time—more than compensated for the fatigue.
Perhaps most of all, when the news of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization came through on all of our cell phones, even as my heart sank, I realized I was in the best possible company to absorb this news. Not only did everyone want to talk about it, but the Policy and Executive Committees and staff swung into action and created a special, unscheduled session where we could discuss not how devastating this news was, but a range of different kinds of actions each of us could take over the next weeks and months. A ballroom crowded with SPSSI members thinking and talking about what might be possible meant so much in that moment. And we all learned that our wonderful Virtual Series Issue editor, Kevin Carriere, had prepared a special issue compiling past SPSSI published articles on reproductive justice: https://spssi.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/toc/10.1111/(ISSN)1540-4560.deeply-rooted-in-patriarchy. In fact, that issue is chock-full of really significant writing by our colleagues on this important topic. Moreover, SPSSI leadership prepared a powerful statement commenting directly on the decision: https://www.spssi.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&PageID=2790.
Painful as it was to learn about the Court’s regressive decision, I was in exactly the right place and exactly the right company to think about what comes next. And I was so proud that SPSSI is what it is—an organization that says and does the right things when it matters—not just during this summer’s conference, but all the time.
I hope I’ll get to see all of you in Denver, where we can all enjoy the SPSSI community together. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your stories about when SPSSI community mattered to you. Please write me at email@example.com.
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