Feminists confer to discuss relevant issues and celebrate Women’s and Gender Studies

by Kassel Franco-Garibay, Opinions Editor

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Drew Women and Gender Studies major. To celebrate the anniversary, the department hosted various speakers and events revolving around Women’s History month, and to wrap it up they held the 13th Annual New Jersey Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium on March 31. This research consortium included seven panels with participants from nine different colleges in New Jersey. The undergraduates presented their research papers and accepted questions from the audience. Hannah Kohn (’17), a WGST major at Drew who was a speaker last year, shared her experience attending the consortium on this year, saying, “As a WGST nerd, it’s rare that I get to spend a day listening to feminist conferences. It is the best way to spend a Friday.”

The research topics covered a vast array of feminist issues, from studies on LGBTQ climate at college, to forced marriages and the effects of globalization on the orientalist view of Muslim women. Lauren Pelaia, a student at Brookdale Community College, performed an original song she composed, the song spoke about political activism and empowerment for minority groups. On her presentation she encouraged people to take action in order to improve the political climate. “All the feminist waves are not that different. This is our ocean, and every time we crash the shore we get stronger,” Pelaia concluded.

The conversation continued during the lunch break, where discussion was facilitated by Drew WGST students on topics such as intersectional feminism, immigration issues on campus, activism and organizing and reproductive rights. Finally, the conference ended with a keynote presentation by Lateefah Simon, an activist and community organizer. Simon was awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant winner, and is currently the president of the Akonadi Foundation in California. During her talk, she spoke about what fourth-wave feminism needs to look like, especially since “what happened after the last election will take 30 to 40 years to undo”. Simon referred to college as a “bootcamp” for the next generation of educated fighters, needless to say all the attendees were very empowered after the talk.

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