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WRC and Title IX host vigil in response to #metoo campaign

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On Nov. 3, 2017, the WRC held a silent candlelight vigil followed by a gathering for conversation in order to show solidarity with those who have been affected by sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Women’s Resource Center sought to ensure that the #metoo campaign would extend beyond its influence on social media.

Attendees lit candles in the WRC courtyard before having a moment of silence for victims. Afterwards, they headed inside to the WRC to engage in a conversation about the effects of the campaign.

The campaign began shortly after the “New York Times” published an investigative report on sexual misconduct allegations against prominent film producer Harvey Weinstein in October 2017. The report ignited the national viral #metoo campaign that would give voice to women who were victims of sexual misconduct. Though the #metoo campaign initially began in response to the numerous allegations against Weinstein, other leading men in Hollywood, such as Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman, have found themselves facing similar claims of sexual misconduct.

According to Shá Duncan Smith, dean of diversity inclusion and director of the WRC, the candlelight vigil was organized as a joint project between the WRC and the Title IX office.

“The #metoo vigil came about as an effort by different thought partners such as the WRC associates and the Title IX office. Together, we [the WRC and the Title IX office] talked about the #metoo campaign as a whole and how we think about the skill sets that are needed to proactively do a paradigm shift in the culture,” Smith said.  

Lucy Jones ’20, a WRC associate, believes that the WRC vigil raised awareness about both the #metoo campaign and about the presence of the center on campus.

“I think for most people there was really a sense of community that was built online from the #metoo campaign. The WRC felt the need to bring that to a physical space because one of our main goals is to make a space on campus that is open to not just women but people of all genders,” Jones said.

The WRC has had a role on campus for nearly 40 years and provides a safe space where students can study, bake, speak to associates, and attend college-sponsored events. By addressing the #metoo campaign, the WRC promoted the awareness of sexual misconduct on campus and rallied even those who were not involved in the social media movement.

“I don’t know a lot about the campaign but I wanted to come tonight to show up and show my support for anyone who’s dealt with issues like sexual assault, sexual misconduct, or sexual based violence,” Meghan Kelly ’18, an attendee of the vigil, said. “Specifically, I was thinking about my role as an RA on campus and how it’s important for me to reach out to everyone in the Swarthmore community.”

Keton Kakkar ’19 attended due to the soothing atmosphere that the vigil provided.

“I enjoy candles and vigils and think they are conducive to reflection on serious issues,” Kakkar said. “There is something beautiful and communal about standing in a circle with people and holding a flame.”

Though some students attended because of the environment the vigil provided, Smith expressed sentiments about how the objectives of the WRC on campus relate to the vigil and the recent movement, noting that the movement also has the potential to positively change the current culture surrounding the treatment of sexual misconduct victims.

“I was excited about looking at [the #metoo campaign] as a way to change the culture. We’re sort of socialized to accept certain things in relation to language and action,” said Smith. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s not just about us as individuals but about how the ‘me too’ affects everyone collectively.”

Moving forward, the WRC has further plans to create a safe environment and inclusive community on campus. The Title IX Office, in collaboration with the WRC, is introducing a campaign about the value of healthy relationships on campus.

One of the things the Title IX office is doing with the WRC is focusing on healthy relationships and healthy communities. As a college, let’s take a look at these unhealthy relationships and how it affects the building of a healthy community,” Smith said. “We can’t have an inclusive community without healthy relationships.”

While the WRC strives to make campus a more safe and inclusive place, the #metoo campaign shows that progress remains to be made. The vigil held by the WRC highlights how students seek to promote awareness by standing in solidarity with the victims of #metoo.

Women’s center expands, re-envisions role

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The Women’s Resource Center announced plans to re-define and expand its presence on campus.

This year, the Women’s Resource Center is working to increase its hours and the availability of its resources. Although the WRC has always aimed to provide a safe space for students of all backgrounds and identities to come together, its goals have remained largely undefined. Recently, coordinators have begun to refine the role of the WRC, working to host group events and create a space for the discussion of gender, sexuality, and violence prevention through a strong network of student workers and staff members.

In the past, the Women’s Resource Center functioned primarily as an open dry space, providing an alternative area for student programming. Unlike the Black Cultural Center and Intercultural Center, the WRC was run as a “student committee” and had very little administrative guidance. Due to this, the WRC was requesting the majority of their funding through the SBC and did not have a large central budget like the BCC or IC, making it more difficult to host events.

Although the WRC student committee still hosted events such as coffee houses, this lack of budgeting and administrative planning led it to have a less focused purpose than other campus organizations. Because of this, the WRC will be increasing the availability of staff members to implement more central planning. “Our hope with these changes is that we can create more with an inclusive community that feels accessible, and that isn’t dependent on students who are already over-taxed to run the center,” said Nina Harris, director of the WRC.

According to Harris, the lack of an explicit purpose within the WRC eventually led it to have very few centralized, engaging events to bring in the community.

During the WRC’s recent hiring process, Becca Bernstein, Title IX fellow, described how students commonly considered the WRC as “undervalued” and “underutilized,” believing that it provided far less structure for discussion of gender and sexuality than they would have liked. Similarly, many first-year students expected the WRC to be more closely allied and active with other campus groups, such as SwatFems. “I think the WRC and SwatFems allying and having more events together is a really great possibility, and I would like to see them work together more closely in the future,” said Eliza Henneberry ‘19, a new general associate at the WRC.

During their recent open house on Friday, October 23rd, the WRC addressed these issues and announced the new aims that will be redefining their purpose on campus. Irene Kwon ‘17, the newly appointed senior coordinator, shared her vision for the WRC.

“I see the Women’s Resource Center as a group of people, a space, an institution that has the potential to render concrete all of the theoretical jargons and criticisms around gender…I want the WRC to be a space where students can explore and discuss their intersectional identities,” Kwon said.

Kwon added that in the future, the WRC will be reorganizing the physical space of their building to create an area in which gender and sexuality can be discussed more fully, in a more practical sense, outside of an entirely academic context.

In pursuit of these goals, the WRC is working to create a more structured environment. In the past, the WRC was only staffed by student “house sitters,” who kept the center open along with a few interns available as resources for students. Staff members were only available during the nights. The WRC will now be open and staffed more often: Tuesday through Friday from 2-6 p.m., Saturdays from 4 p.m.-2 a.m., and Sundays from 4 p.m.-midnight. Staff members will be available to discuss Title IX, violence prevention, and gender and sexuality during these times. The center also brought on people to work on graphic design, social media and marketing.

As another way to implement their goals, the WRC will be putting together two types of discussion groups. The first, “Misogyny Therapy,” is a space for students to come together and look at gender and sexuality in a practical sense, as it pertains to their daily lives. Bernstein described that the group will be a place in which individuals can “talk about gender microaggressions” and discuss the ways in which these affect their lives. She stated that it will be both a “safe” and a “brave” space for students to feel comfortable and supported while speaking about gender and sexuality but also to explore new ideas.

The second group is one in which students can openly discuss sex and sexual exploration, and with a focus on “sexual taboos.” The first meeting will be held on Thursday, November 5.

As an effort to promote accessibility, the WRC has moved the library down to the first floor and added more reliable WiFi to make the center a better study space. The third floor has been turned into a type of “restorative care” center to serve as a safe space that promotes self-care and provides violence prevention and staff resources for students.

“The hope is that because the college is putting more centralized student support and staff support, we can start to build [the WRC] up in the ways that the IC and BCC are,” said Harris. The WRC is working towards forming a strong community in which individuals can express their views about gender and sexuality and be part of an inclusive community.

College continues to revamp sexual assault prevention, education

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As we near the close of the third week of this school year, we are in the midst of what has come to be known as the “Red Zone,” a period of time at the beginning of the school year during which the incidence of sexual assault on college campuses is highest. While the risk of sexual violence is serious and present at all times, the beginning of the year, when one quarter of the students are new to campus, is a time to be particularly aware. Though the most visible of the college’s efforts to prevent sexual violence are mostly enacted in a single night during first year orientation, there are a number of administrators, staff, and students whose work towards preventing sexual assault extends beyond that first week.

Two years ago, the federal government launched an investigation of Swarthmore’s handling of sexual assault cases due to a Title IX complaint filed by students. The case, opened by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, is not yet resolved. In the time since the complaint was filed, the college has hired a number of new staff members and changed or created much of their efforts around sexual violence prevention and survivor support.

One of the college’s relatively recent hires was Nina Harris, the violence prevention educator and advocate and newly appointed advisor to the Women’s Resource Center. In terms of appropriate ways of teaching students about sexual assault, Harris acknowledges the importance of awareness during the beginning of the year, but cautions against focusing too intensely on the so-called Red Zone.

“In any messaging or awareness campaign you must also be balanced in creating an accurate picture that will not disproportionately emphasize one element, like the ‘red zone,’ and imply that danger only exists in that period, or that sexual assault only happens because of alcohol and party culture,“ she said. She noted that the statistical existence of a Red Zone is pointed out in Campus Clarity’s “Think About It,” the online sexual assault prevention program that first years are required to take.

The online education module, which aims to educate students to “reduce risky student behavior and prevent sexual assault on your campus,” leads students through lessons on alcohol consumption and sexual assault and hook up culture.  Its use has been met with criticism on a number of other campuses.  Students writing for other campus newspapers, including Temple University, have raised concerns with the program such as its heteronormative focus, probing questions about students’ own drug and alcohol use and sex life, and a risk for trivializing the issues as problems with the program.  Still, most do acknowledge that it is a potentially useful tool for leveling the playing field of knowledge around consent.

At Swarthmore, though many students have been on campus for almost a month, party permits were not issued until the weekend of September 5th. Harris said that she supports the decision to delay the start of alcohol-fueled parties, though she wishes that there had been clearer communication about why dry week is important.

Harris now officially splits her time between her office in Worth Health Center and the WRC.  She explained that while her Worth office is the appropriate location for her work with the survivor community, and for her to act in her capacity as a confidential resource, it was not a logical space for some of the broader initiatives she has in mind. Harris hopes to expand her scope and the ways she interacts with students by moving into the WRC.

“Women’s centers on college campuses have traditionally been the community space that deals with issues of gender and sexuality and so when we’re talking about culture and climate and community, the Health Center doesn’t fully allow us to address that on that level,” Harris pointed out.  She hopes that the WRC will become a space that operates similarly to the way the BCC and IC do, providing a home base for community work, which it has struggled to do in the past partially because of a lack of support staff. Title IX Fellow Becca Bernstein and Residential Communities Coordinator Heather Lorin Albright will join Harris in working in the WRC this year, in an effort to address that lack.  She explained that there are plans for the WRC, IC, and BCC staff to coordinate throughout the year, and that they are collectively seeking to answer the question “How can we model a working and lived experience of intersectionality?”

The WRC previously served as a dry alternative available during parties, and was only almost exclusively open on weekend nights. The space will now be open during daytime hours, and Harris hopes it will become a comfortable space for all and a hub for students whose interests include gender-related issues.

Harris’s work will also extend to advising Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention, a student group that led peer-facilitated workshops during orientation (before the days of Making Friends, Making Out) in the past, but seeks to reevaluate and redefine its role on campus this year. According to Ashley Hong ’16, an ASAP coordinator, this reshaping is due in large part to the hiring of Kaaren Williamsen as the college’s first Title IX Coordinator and the creation of an official Title IX space.

“[The members of the group] realized we were allowed to step back thanks to the institution’s stepping up,” she said. Since these changes, ASAP coordinators have spent time figuring out how to be most effective in meeting their goals and in actively supporting Williamsen’s work.  Victoria Stitt ’15, another of ASAP’s coordinators, hopes that the group will have a larger presence this year, though they will be smaller in numbers since they no longer lead orientation workshops.

The official mission statement of ASAP includes the following: “We seek to educate our peers about the multifaceted ways that abuse and sexual assault can manifest themselves … We encourage our peers to recognize and know how to support a friend or friends dealing with the impacts of sexual assault.” For her part, Hong joined the group with hopes of being able to influence campus culture.

“My freshman year, I realized that there was a big lack of resources, awareness, and education about healthy relationships, consent, prevention, etc. I joined ASAP to make sexual assault issues more visible and to make consent the norm,” she said. She believes that there has been a shift towards greater awareness and understanding over the course of her time here.  “ASAP doesn’t have an official, longitudinal study to quantitatively assess the changes that we believe have occurred, but there are areas on campus and in social media that have shown an increase in support.” She explained that she was heartened to see students using the anonymous app Yik Yak to spread information about campus resources, to identify Harris and Williamsen as useful figures, and to reinforce the importance of consent. “Every effort counts,” she added.

Williamsen voiced gratitude towards the students, like those involved in ASAP, who dedicate their time and energy to supporting her office’s work.

“Preventing sexual violence is a community effort and I am so appreciative that so many students are interesting in working together on this issue,” she said. She also pointed out that one of the difficulties in keeping a consistent culture of consent and awareness of issues and policies at Swarthmore, or any college, is the sizable turnover in the student community, which necessitates a continued educational effort by the administration.

Williamsen’s official role, as described in the Student Handbook, is to oversee all sexual misconduct reports, to advise students in matters involving sexual misconduct, and to ensure that the college is compliant with all regulations under Title IX law. Williamsen herself also highlighted her work on the side of sexual violence prevention, and her commitment to working with other staff and students to create educational events, workshops, and trainings.

Harris, Williamsen, and ASAP coordinators all pointed to the upcoming “Can I Kiss You?” workshop as one of the events they are looking forward to this year. The workshop, which also took place last year, is led by author and public speaker Mike Domitrz and seeks to help students manage the realities of giving and getting consent. Other sexual violence-related programming is also in the works for the coming year, including private events for the survivor community and public ones for all interested students.

Women’s resource center reopens after lightning strike

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Lightning struck the Women’s Resource center over summer break on Thursday, June 13. The strike caused a fire on the third floor where the library, featuring various books on feminist literature and gender studies, was located; luckily, no one was inside when it occurred. William Maguire, who is both a college maintenance manager and deputy chief of Delaware County’s fire company, was first on the scene. He said that, when he arrived, there was “heavy fire on the third floor and flames coming through the center of the area.” He added that this has been one of the worst fires on campus in recent years. After helping with the extinguishing of the fire, Maguire went on to run the renovation project.

Hannah Armbruster ’15, the liaison between the WRC board and Dean Karen Henry, was on campus while working for Trash 2 Treasure when she received a call from Paul Bierman ’15 at 9:30 in the morning about the fire. Armbruster was upset by the news and cynical about the restoration, feeling that it would take longer as she thought the damage was much worse.Luckily, the restoration went as planned without delay, and Mar Firke ’14, a house sitter since her sophomore year, said that while the WRC is a lot nicer and newer,“it’s a shame we missed orientation.” The WRC’s reopening was the first event held there since the fire as students weren’t allowed in during the restoration  for safety reasons.  The WRC also has a record of the lost books thanks to McCabe’s title scanning technology, and has enough money to replace them. They are also open to suggestions from anyone, as they realized when looking through the record of books that their library contained multiple copies of a few popular books and a disproportionately large amount of works on Second-wave feminism.

“We’re trying to get more organized in representing each wave of feminism, since I’m certain we have books from each of them. We don’t just have scholarly books — we have books like Middlesex, and I requested Persepolis, and we are expanding the collection past books to include movies and hopefully Riot Grrl zines,” said Armbruster.

Last Friday marked the official reopening of the WRC. The event was marked by an open house and the return of the Coffeehouse, a dry, alternative party space offered at the WRC on Saturday. The open house showcased pictures of the third floor after the lightning strike and included performances from Grapevine and OASIS hor d’oeuvres. Many students visited and left various notes expressing gratitude to the WRC for providing a safe space  and the workers involved in the restoration.

The Women’s Resource Center, originally built in 1925 as Kappa Sigma Pi’s fraternity housing according to the SCCS’s building history website, now serves as a community space for all genders, and not only women, despite the name. The housesitters and student volunteers have all been anxiously awaiting the reopening and are excited to reintroduce the WRC to campus, and provide a safe space for students to gather and socialize. Firke said, “I think for a lot of people the WRC is a place where you can come together and meet people you have something in common with. You don’t need to come with an agenda or specific discussion in mind.”

“It’s really rewarding to provide this space for so many people,” said Armbruster, “I have a lot of people come up to me and tell me how much they love it here and how safe they feel, and I’m more open to get them to come, for everyone to feel welcome and make this a vital space for all kinds of folk to use.”

The Women’s Resource Center is open Thursday, Friday, and Sunday from 8 PM to midnight, and from Saturdays from 9 PM to 1 AM when they host the Coffeehouse.

Consent Is Sexy

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A diverse collection of student groups joined together this past weekend to promote consent culture and create a safer party environment. Parties hosted at Olde Club, Paces and both fraternities all required students to show proof of attendance in the form of a sticker from a consent workshop in order to gain entrance.

The student groups involved, which included Deshi, Delta Upsilon, Phi Psi, Kappa Alpha Theta, the Party Associates (PAs), the Drug and Alcohol Resource Team (DART), the Sexual Misconduct Advisors and Resource Team (SMART), the Women’s Resource Center (WRC), the Student Budgeting Committee (SBC), the Sexual Health Counselors (SHCs), and the Swarthmore Queen Union (SQU), as well as Nora Kerrich ’16, who spearheaded the Consent is Sexy Weekend initiative, all saw the project as a success.

In the week leading up to the parties, over 250 students attended consent workshops, facilitated by Director of Worth Health Center Beth Kotarski and student members of the SMARTeam.

David Hill ’13, who leads the PA program, found the workshops valuable for many students. “I think they sparked a dialogue across campus, and they provided information to attendees that many had never learned, or had forgotten since freshman year,” Hill said. While freshmen attend sexual assault workshops facilitated by members of Acquaintance Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) during the orientation process, there is no similarly comprehensive program centered around consent during the remainder of a student’s time at Swarthmore.

Attendees often brought up the legality of consent while intoxicated, and Kerrich, who attended each of the workshops, said she was encouraged by the discussions that took place.  Legally, an intoxicated person cannot consent to sexual activity, and the workshop facilitators reminded students of this law and then discussed how to manage consent in situations involving intoxication.

Another positive result of the consent workshop for Kerrich were the discussions surrounding what many term “liquid courage,” or the inability to overcome fear or awkwardness without alcohol. “I heard students saying several times throughout the consent workshops that if you wouldn’t do it sober, you shouldn’t do it intoxicated,” Kerrich said. Students repeatedly voiced the belief that students should not approach others in a sexual way unless they were comfortable doing so while sober, which Kerrich believes is a critical insight for students to share with one another.

Some students noted that attendance at the parties seemed to be lower than usual, though Hill attributed this lack of attendance to students resting up for this weekend’s Genderfuck. Many students also left campus on Saturday to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Spring Fling. Since the consent workshops provided attendees with one sticker for themselves and two to share with friends, resulting in a distribution of 750 stickers, or roughly half the student body and far greater than the number of students who usually attend weekend parties, accessibility does not seem to have been a problem. However, there were rumors of students purchasing stickers in order to gain entrance to parties without attending consent workshops.

Regardless of relatively low attendance, Razi Shaban ’16, who was part of a group of students that organized a party at Olde Club, entitled Ten Inches, said that his party was a success. “The people who came to Ten Inches had a blast,” Shaban said. “People were coming up to us afterwards telling us that it was the best party they’d been to in a long time.” Shaban added that he was more invested in students attending the consent workshops than attending the parties.

Kerrich and Hill also felt that the parties were a success organizationally. “Overall, the structure worked quite well,” Hill said.

Kerrich echoed Hill’s sentiments. “It was really encouraging to have all the party hosts on board,” she said, adding that party hosts had given her positive feedback and expressed a desire to continue the project in years to come. The PAs and party organizers also worked with members of Phi Psi, Delta Upsilon, Kappa Alpha Theta and the WRC to provide partygoers with safe escorts home.

Looking forward, Kerrich hopes to make several changes as the project continues. This year, she hoped to have mandatory workshops in conjunction with both Genderfuck and the preceding weekend. While this turned out to be unfeasible, as Genderfuck organizers have struggled this year and did not want to add strain to an already difficult process, Kerrich hopes that in the future, the workshop attendance requirement can be tied into the year’s two largest parties, Halloween in the fall and Genderfuck in the spring.

To achieve this goal, Kerrich hopes to schedule more frequent workshops, which she also believes will improve the quality of discussion. “Maybe 20 to 25 students creates a space for more specific conversations, but also for students to feel comfortable not talking and just listening,” Kerrich explained. An average of 40 to 70 students attended each of this year’s workshops.

In terms of the content of the workshops, Kerrich hopes that the SMARTeam and possibly an outside workshop facilitator will collaborate to create a curriculum for different types of consent workshops. “I’ve heard support for different-themed workshops, creating a continuous process so that people aren’t going through the same thing every year,” Kerrich said. While the workshops would have the same basis, changing themes and major conversation points would add depth and interest.

Kerrich also hopes that the Student Activities Committee will come on board with the project and provide funding. Finally, she hopes that the consent workshops will continue to address critical gaps in students’ understanding of consent. “There is still a culture of awkwardness around consent,” Kerrich explained. In the future, Kerrich wants to change this belief, and also hopes to dispel the belief in a gray area around consent and intoxication.

Overall, Kerrich feels that this year’s process served as a positive beginning. “What ended up happening was totally legitimate and a good introduction for consent workshops on campus,” she said.

Women’s Resource Center Hosts Week of Events

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In celebration of March’s nationally recognized Women’s History Month, the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) decided to organize its own week to recognize women’s rights and issues.  Running from Friday, March 22 to Thursday, March 28, the week consists of 12 events that focus on various topics regarding women— ranging from faculty panels about women in transnational media to student spoken word to a women’s luncheon. While WRC board member Kassandra Sparks ’15 and WRC intern Sabrina Singh ’15 are in charge of the weeklong event, 10 different student groups on campus are responsible for running their own respective events.

“Last semester, we were talking about what large-scale event the WRC could do,” Singh said.  “A housesitter had the idea of a women’s weekend, commemorating the idea of women in March.  Another housesitter had the idea to reach out to other groups and see what they think as well. You expect the WRC to talk about women’s issues, but we wanted to hear what other student groups outside of the WRC think and feel about women’s issues.”

These student groups, which include political, religious and ethnic groups on campus, had the opportunity to organize whatever event they wanted, as long as it related to women.

“People involved in the WRC would be interested in women’s issues anyway,” Singh said, “but reaching out to the groups outside of the WRC is important, because it doesn’t just broaden our understanding of women’s issues but shows that women’s issues pertain to everyone, to religion, to transnationalism, to different racial and sexual identities. We thought feminism was a good base to link different groups on campus.”

Sparks also felt that involving various student groups would help change the perception of feminism on campus.

“I’ve been surprised by how many Swat students find it radical and only for a specific kind of person,” Sparks said.  “We were interested in finding an event that would involve everyone on campus.”

Sparks added that she hoped everyone would have a friend involved, which would increase awareness of the event and consequently make more people attend them.

Another benefit of the event, as expressed by Singh, Sparks and Anushka Mehta ’15, a   board member of the Middle Eastern Cultural Society, is the opportunity for different student groups to come together and form one cohesive event.

“I think it was important for [the WRC] to reach out to different groups to remind the community that being a woman speaks to all groups on campus and can be a uniting factor and a way for everyone to engage with one topic,” said Mehta. “It’s also a really cool way for all the groups to work and coordinate with other groups, and to overlap in discussion, because there aren’t many forums for this to take place,” Mehta, who is hosting an event named “Confessionals,” continued.

Not only does the week indicate an opportunity for student groups to focus on the general topic of women, but Swarthmore Democrats and Swarthmore Conservatives also decided to come together and create a joint event.

“Danielle Charette [of Swat Conservatives] and I decided to have our groups co-host an event on women in politics as a way to reach people who want to get more involved with US politics, want to learn more about strong female political figures and want to see how women’s issues are being dealt with today,” said Swarthmore Democrats President Susana Medeiros ’14.

For several other student groups, their respective events are an opportunity to share topics related to women that are relevant to the group.

“We’re interested in looking at the media as a transnational arena and asking how women have been engaging in the arena and how that engagement shapes the representation in politics,” i20 Public Relations Officer Chayanon Ruamcharoen ’15 said.  “I think this is a good opportunity for i20 to be more ‘political.’  I think it’s a good opportunity for i20 to bring in national and transnational perspectives that were missing.”

Abigail Holtzman ’16, who is collaborating with Swarthmore Hillel to organize “Women and Water: Change and Continuity in the Jewish Tradition,” sees her event as a time to share an aspect of her life that holds large significance to her.

“To me, story-telling is an important part of any holiday, because it involves sharing with other people,” she said.  “Story-telling emphasizes changes and continuity at the same time.  A lot of religion is about story-telling and traditions but also adapting.”

Women’s Week creators Singh and Sparks’ own event does not involve the focus of women in different religious, political, or ethnic groups; rather, it celebrates the Swarthmore alumnae and their accomplishments.  Both expressed that they hope their event can inspire Swarthmore students and allow both students of all genders to recognize the accomplishments that Swarthmore graduates have made.

Regardless of the individual purposes of each groups’ goals for their individual events, everyone involved shares a common goal of conveying the importance of women’s issues and focusing on the prevalence of women in society.

“I think one problem is that women’s issues are relegated as ‘women’s issues,’ not mainstream or relevant to the overall population,” Singh said.  “Since woman-identifying people are part of the world’s population, it should not be relegated to the corner.  It’s equally important to realize women’s issues are relevant to the whole population.”

Mehta expressed the hope that people will have the opportunity to define womanhood and share their own experiences of what it means to be a woman, while Enlace President Dilcia Mercedes ’15 stated that she hoped the week would portray women as stronger than some people may perceive them.

“Women are still not thought of as the pioneers and leaders of important achievements for our society when in fact they put in a lot of work,” she said.  “This week will help us display all of the roles we take on, and it will just give people the space for people to look at the women in their lives more closely and appreciate them for all of what they are.”

The event kicks off this Friday at 4 p.m. with MECS’ event Confessionals.  More details on each event can be found at http://wrcwomensweek.wordpress.com/.

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