October 22, 2018

ThriVe St. Louis event cancelled at Webster University

UPDATE: The print version of this News Brief misidentified Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Julie Setele as Julie Smith. The has been corrected.

Webster University Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Julie Setele discovered the organization ThriVe St. Louis planned to come to Webster’s campus on Sept. 25–two days before the scheduled event. The group’s appearance on campus was cancelled the next day. Setele said based on students’ reaction on Facebook to the news, she anticipated students would have organized a rally or protest had the organization arrived.

“It was good to see the student response [to the news] in the feminist collective page, and then to hear that folks were ready to protest if they had to,” Setele said. “It was definitely a relief to find out it had been cancelled.”

According to ThriVe St. Louis’ website, the group provides free or low-cost healthcare services to women. The group is not a medical care provider, but the organization’s website says it can administer pregnancy and STD testing, as well as provide information regarding abortion and parenting services.

ThriVe St. Louis travels in their ‘mobile medical fleets’ to visit places like Webster. Setele said the organization came to campus last year, though she did not know that until recently.

Setele said she communicated with faculty in the Women and Gender Studies program to discuss how to handle the group’s arrival. Setele said she thought having ThriVe St. Louis on campus was a bad idea because she believed the group spread an anti-abortion, medically inaccurate message to their clients.

Setele feared ThriVe St. Louis’ appearance would influence students to spread the group’s message.

“ I think students would have been encouraged to seek them out for services in the future and to recommend them to their friends,” Setele said. “So even beyond the individuals they might have spoken with directly here on campus that day, they would have had sort of a ripple effect.”

Setele said she never saw fliers for ThriVe’s appearance, and she did not know if many faculty members knew until the week of the event.

ThriVe St. Louis could not be reached for comment.

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