Hawks Intersectionality Week

Hawks Celebrate Intersectionality Week

Intersectionality Week at Monmouth University, featuring various events and initiatives hosted by University clubs and organizations to promote an interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, began on Monday, Oct. 9.

The organizations involved include: Students Advocating Girls’ Education (SAGE); the Youth Activists Group (YAG); Sexuality, Pride, Education, Community, Truth, Respect, and Unity at Monmouth (SPECTRUM); and the Gender Studies Club. All organizations involved have a shared mission of promotion equality, safety, and acceptance for all.

The week began with Indigenous People Day, a holiday celebrating the indigenous people of North America. Typically celebrated as Columbus Day, Indigenous People Day highlights a population that is seen as having been treated unfairly throughout history, especially by Christopher Columbus himself, according to Taffy Lashley, a sophomore communications student who took the lead organizing the event.

The Gender Studies Club was at the Rebecca Stafford Student Center from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. to educate the community and celebrate that indigenous culture.

National Coming Out Day is another day celebrated within the week. Taking place on Wednesday, Oct. 11, the organizations have worked together to create a variety of programming to mark the day.

YAG, SAGE, and SPECTRUM have worked together to spread awareness and support for all communities susceptible to unequal opportunity and mistreatment, according to Jane Lai, the President of SPECTRUM.

SAGE will table to spread awareness of the disadvantages people across genders, races, and cultures face in relation to the intersectional wage gap. They will also have a bake sale, which will promote the awareness of the intersectional wage gap, and give out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) pride buttons in celebration of Coming Out Day, according to senior member Jaminique Hamilton.

The Youth Activists Group will be at the Student Center on Wednesday to share positivity, kindness, and acceptance for Intersectionality week and Coming Out Day. There will be a podium and a microphone open available to all students and faculty to share kind words of equality, vows of acceptance, anecdotes of struggles, and anything constructive to the community. YAG will also be providing interactive ways to share kindness and self-love to students.

“One of our members, Carly Miller (a senior homeland security student), had the wonderful idea of creating ‘I am not defined by…’ stickers,” said Camille Taveras, a senior YAG member.

“When students pass by, they will be welcomed with a sticker that states those words and it’s up to them to complete the sentence,” added Taver

Taveras explained that she found people among the LGBTQ+ community were especially judged for insignificant details, rather than actual character.

 “I think this sticker is an incredible idea because not only does it represent members of this community who have been judged by one of their minor characteristics, but it also makes the subject relatable,” added Taveras.

“To me, Coming Out Day is about celebrating visibility and acknowledging a concept that is specific to the LGBTQ+ community,” said Chris Rapaglia, a social work student and member of SPECTRUM. “We don’t come out just one time in our lives; we are continually coming out to people as they become a part of our systems.”

Rapagalia also explained that coming out could potentially put people at risk, specifying transgender women of color, who he says are disproportionately at risk for violence and even death.

“We as a community still choose to be seen, to be heard, and to come out despite adversity,” Rapagalia finished. “To me, that’s the importance of Coming Out Day.”

Thursday, marking the fourth day of Intersectionality Week, will be dedicated to Sexual Harassment Awareness. An educational event hosted by Professors United for a Safe Haven (PUSH) called “PUSH Back Against Rape Culture” will be held at the Student Center from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“This event is important given that one in four college women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape,” said Corey Wrenn, Ph.D., Director of the University’s Gender Studies Department and sociology lecturer. “That means that about 800 Monmouth students are potentially impacted. Given the high rate of sexual assault on American college campuses, it is important for the faculty to come together in resistance and demonstrate to students that we care about their safety and can be relied on as allies.”

PUSH will be joined by SPECTRUM and the Gender Studies Club, who will be attending to share information about LGBTQ+ sexual education, and support sexual harassment awareness. SAGE will be present with a “What Were You Wearing” exhibit.

These efforts have been supported by other clubs including the Sociology Club, as well as from students participating in the University’s upcoming production of “Hair,” which will run from Nov. 10 through 16.

 “The musical ‘Hair’ takes on topics such as sexuality, race, gender, environmental issues, etc. and celebrates the overall oneness of everything,” said Michael Grant, a senior playing the character of Claude. “It’s cool to be playing a character that lives among activists. Fifty years since its opening we’re still dealing with similar issues, but it’s so cool to go to a school where youth activists come together and keep the Age of Aquarius alive.”

“Hair,” a controversial rock musical from the 1960s, tells the story of a group of politically active hippies living a bohemian lifestyle in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War, while also highlighting the ideals of the time period.

“I’m sure we all have at one point in our life felt judged based on something other than our character,” said Taveras, explaining the overall importance of the week.

“Whether it be our age, race, or sexual orientation, we all want to feel accepted and we all must feel accepted. It is one of our hierarchical needs as human beings and so everyone coming together on a day like this truly depicts a caring community that I am proud to be a part of,” Taveras continued.