Earlier this month Jacob Eichengreen ’13, Su Park ’12, and the rest of the group known as “Wesleyan Uncut” uploaded a video onto YouTube in support of Planned Parenthood entitled “I Have Sex.” The video features students holding signs with slogans such as “I have sex,” “My friends have sex,” and “I use birth control.” As of yesterday, the video had 269,402 views and 1,890 comments on YouTube.
After attending a rally this past February’s against cuts to Planned Parenthood funding, this group of students also attended an unrelated screening of 9500 Liberty, a documentary released in 2009 which follows the battle over immigration in Virginia. The video was followed by a dinner with the directors of the movie Eric Byler ’94 and Annabel Park. Conversation over dinner led to the formation of Wesleyan Uncut.
“The dinner turned from talking about their video to talking about social activism,” Eichengreen said. “We started thinking, why do we want to save Planned Parenthood? Well, because people have sex. Because it’s a universal thing that we are all affected by, and in that case Planned Parenthood provides a universal service.”
The students at the dinner decided to undertake the project of making a video in defense of Planned Parenthood, calling themselves Wesleyan Uncut. All 14 students of Wesleyan Uncut had some involvement in the making of the video.
Eichengreen said that most students were not shy about participating.
“The shooting took about two or three hours, and all of two people said ‘no,’” he said. “Not everyone wanted to hold up the ‘I Have Sex’ sign, but for the most part people were like ‘Absolutely.’”
Margo Tercek ’13, a student who participated in the video, said that she thought the video was very well done and has received many positive reactions.
“A lot of people from high school reached out to me and said they saw the video, so I was really surprised and impressed by what an impact it had,” Tercek said. “I was proud of everyone who contributed to it.”
Hannah Adams ’13, who helped organize the Planned Parenthood rally and is the daughter of President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards, agreed.
“I think putting faces to the message is extremely powerful,” she said. “They were willing to stand up and say ‘I need this, I want this, and this is my right.’ The amount of press it’s gotten has been amazing. It shows how important Planned Parenthood services are to our generation and how crucial they are to our health.”
Eichengreen edited the final version of the video on the plane home and during the first weekend of spring break. Wesleyan Uncut member Neo Sora ’13 helped with some of the final edits. After taking feedback from the group into account, the video was released two days later. Within a week, it generated a quarter of a million views.
Eichengreen said that he did not expect that kind of reaction.
“I just thought it would go around campus or something,” he said. “I never thought it would get on Fox or Rachel Maddow. I woke up and there were 16 views, and by the end of the day there were like 8,000.”
Eichengreen also credited Park and Byler in helping the video gather steam. Both are involved with the Coffee Party, which is a grassroots political movement that formed as an alternative to the Tea Party.
“The people from the Coffee Party put it on their Facebook status the first day, which goes out 350,000 people,” he said. “If it weren’t for them this would not have taken off.”
Wesleyan Uncut’s video has inspired other colleges, such as Bard and Oberlin, to create similar videos. Eichengreen said that they were hoping to branch out to even more schools, and has heard rumors of Stanford and the University of Colorado students filming videos as well.
“I really liked all the response videos because it broadened the message a little bit more,” Eichengreen said. “In editing this video and choosing the words and the clips that I chose, I tried to be as strong as possible in emphasizing the fact that sex happens. The other videos kind of branched away from that a little bit, and were emphasizing people that maybe don’t have sex. So they really complement each other.”
Luke Wherry ’13, who watched the video over break, expressed support of it.
“I saw it on Wesleying and thought it was incredibly well done,” he said. “I was even further impressed by the response from Oberlin. Since we’re an academic institution, and a lot of Wesleyan students like to effectively make the world a better place, I was impressed that we were on the forefront of something like that.”