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Rutgers students write letters to White House as part of national #Read MyLips campaign

The #ReadMyLips campaign allows women from around the country to write letters to President Donald J. Trump voicing their discontent with his policies on issues like reproductive rights.  – Photo by Photo by Nikhilesh De | The Daily Targum

Students who believe that their interests are not being represented in the White House had a new avenue to contact President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday night with the #ReadMyLips campaign.

The #ReadMyLips campaign is meant to allow women from around the country to write letters to the president, said School of Arts and Sciences junior Dharni Rao. The political science major organized a letter-writing session on Wednesday night in the Kathleen W. Ludwig Global Village Living Learning Center.

“We’re going to spread awareness, we’re going to let our president know what issues that we’re having for women’s rights, like reproductive rights,” she said. “It really took off after the Women’s March, because we saw how many women really had to say (something) about (their issues) so that’s when we really started doing it.”

The campaign, which is sponsored by the media company Mogul, began near the end of last year’s presidential election, she said. Mogul’s CEO, Tiffany Pham, and students affiliated with the company at various universities created it as a way for those who are concerned about the administration’s stance on women’s issues to relate these concerns to the president.

School of Arts and Sciences junior Ryan Ortiz said she was familiar with the campaign prior to Wednesday’s event, but did not know Rutgers was participating in it. She wrote a letter and intends to remain involved with activist organizations in the hopes that Trump will learn from the messages he is receiving.

“I think it’s important that young kids speak their voice because we’re told that our opinions don’t matter because we’re young and not educated enough to have an opinion,” Ortiz said. “It’s really important that college students and even high school students get out and say what they believe in and stand up for it. And I hope that even the few letters we wrote tonight have an impact on the campaign as a whole.”

Rao said the letters will be sent to the president in a statue shaped like a vagina delivered by past members of "Saturday Night Live." 

She hopes that not only the president but his daughter Ivanka Trump will read the letters and learn more about the issues women face in the United States.

Ivanka Trump will hopefully be able to see the importance of the campaign and support it, she said.

The letters will be delivered on April 21.

Steven Davidson, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, said he thinks raising awareness of women’s issues will help change how these issues are perceived by the administration and the general public.

Ortiz said she believes that the campaign will spark another conversation about women’s rights and issues.

“I don’t think that any sort of activist’s campaign does nothing, even if it’s for a short while it gets people talking,” Ortiz said. “I hope this is another thing that keeps people talking and hopefully he’ll sit down and read these letters.”

While previous protest movements may not have had a noticeable impact on the president’s actions, that does not mean they were unsuccessful, Davidson said.

“I don’t necessarily think it has to influence anything in order to be effective,” he said. “I think no matter who you are you should have a platform to speak your mind, and clearly women are very passionate about what they’re doing and if they’re passionate, even if just a few people see that and are inspired by that, that’s enough even if it doesn’t change policy.”

Rao said she hopes repeatedly showing the president that people have concerns will encourage him to act.

“The first time you make a statement, they don’t understand, and the second time, they don’t understand, but I feel like if we just continue coming together and taking a stand eventually he might realize how important this is,” Rao said.

Rao originally began working for Mogul last year but did not organize the Rutgers chapter of the campaign until recently.

While the idea of being actively involved with this type of political movement seems scary, it really is not, she said.

"Sometimes coming and taking this position isn’t easy,” Rao said. “It’s scary, so something I want everyone to know is I can do it, anyone can fight for a cause. I don’t want anyone to think they’re not confident enough or not strong enough to take on something because that’s not true.”

Nikhilesh De is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. He is a School of Arts and Sciences senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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