- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 20 April 2016
- Written by ROSSANA VALDIVIA | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Students Advocating Girls’ Education (SAGE) hosted their annual Women’s Retreat that brought together many young women of Monmouth on Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2016. From Zumba to henna, SAGE incorporated bits and pieces of culture from around the world in Anacon.
SAGE is a student run organization that was founded two years ago. The club was established in the fall of 2014 by president Jamilah McMillan and vice president Janaya Lewinski. The club host’s events and campaigns that protect women and girls’ international rights to education and gender equality.
The Women’s Retreat was broken up into stations. There was an Insecurity Wall station, a makeup guru station, a henna station, a Mean Girls station, and a Zumba station.
There were some stations that highlighted internal struggles that women face on a global level. The Insecurity Wall, for example, was a station in which young women wrote an insecurity and taped it up on the wall. At the end of the night, when all the insecurities were up, all the participants were able to realize that insecurities have no identity, as many of them were recurring.
A freshman political science student Kaitlin Allsopp liked the insecurity wall. My favorite station was definitely the insecurity table. When you look back everybody pretty much had the same insecurity and they were kind of silly to have,” she said.
Emma O’Rourke, a freshman marketing student who attended the event, said, “I was really surprised how much I learned from other girls just by looking at this wall and how much I actually related to their struggles.”
Instructor of Political Science and Sociology, Catherine Bartch, appreciated the Insecurity Wall section. She said, “When you read others writing that they are insecure about ‘acne,’ ‘weight’ and ‘thighs,’ you realize that too many of us harbor harsh, overly-critical and downright false and illogical negative thoughts as a result of negative messages being propagated by dominant institutions and discourse in society.”
The Mean Girls table was intended to be a positive spin off of the Burn Book from the movie Mean Girls. While in the movie, the book consisted of negative and derogatory terms made towards other females, this version was quite different. University students wrote any negative or offensive statement they had ever made towards another. Afterwards, all the papers were ripped and thrown away to signify the end of hostility between females and begin a state of serenity and cooperation.
Dr. Johanna Foster, the Director of the Sociology and Gender Studies Program was a guest speaker and co-sponsor of the event. “I liked the idea of really intervening on this notion that women have to be in competition with one another,” she replied.
Among other stations, the Insecurity Wall and the Mean Girls table were able to remind young women of the innate connections and hobbies they share with each other, some which they might not have expected.
In the middle of the event, Dr. Foster gave a speech that encouraged all the young women present to rise conjointly at Monmouth and into their communities and begin taking collective action that combat serious issues such as the wage gaps between males and females. According to www.pay-equity.org, in 2010, women made 77 cents to every man’s dollar, but other studies show that Latina and African-American women make even less.
The Zumba station was very popular towards the end of the night. A professional instructor volunteered to run the station and many women participated. The henna station had a long line throughout the entire event. Event-goers could be seen walking around waiting for the henna to dry as they ate, mingled, or engaged in the other stations. Lastly, the make-up guru station was a panel of female students on campus who are experienced in makeup. They brought their favorite brands and were available to answer questions and share tips.
Foster congratulated SAGE for all their hard work and recognized their efforts as one of the strongest and most unique student clubs she has seen since her arrival at Monmouth. “One of the things that I noticed about SAGE is that I think it’s one of the most multi-racial, multi-cultural groups of students to come together on campus,” she said.
Aside from other organizations, SAGE does include MU students from many backgrounds who advocate many issues on women. “I wanted to join a club that cares for education for women and girls around the world and SAGE did just that,” said Allsopp.
Although women have established themselves as American citizens through the 19th amendment with the same rights and obligations, modern day issues still present obstacles that they need to overcome. The purpose of the event was not only to increase awareness, nor to solely promote empowerment for the young women of Monmouth, rather to encourage action. The Women’s Retreat sought to catalyze the need for change of traditional gender-unequal norms that have been engrained in society for centuries. The Retreat was one of the many events in which SAGE has advocated that women and men on campus begin working together towards a mutual goal: ultimate equality.
PHOTO TAKEN by Jasmine Ramos