RSO to educate on women’s issues

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The American Alliance of University Women (AAUW) is a new RSO on campus that aims to empower women and debunk myths about feminism.

This will be the national organization’s first year at SVSU.

One of AAUW’s first events was a collaboration with First Year Suites Residential Assistants Renee Okenka, Hannah Doederlein, Camden Dice and Amos Privette. The event was called Flapjacks and Feminism. The students met Sara Chase, the president of AAUW, at the Winter RSO fair.

“We wanted to help get the name out about the organization, and it paired well with Women’s History Month,” Privette said.

Okenka was excited for the collaboration.

“We have been trying to create more intentional and diverse programs in the First Year Suites to educate students on many issues that are going on in the world,” Okenka said. “At this program, we not only had a pancake bar, but we also had a diverse array of influential women on the walls, residents could take their picture in a photo booth with the quote ‘#WE support women,’ and they could also write the women who inspire them most on a sheet of paper that was then hung outside the gate of the First Year Suites.”

This year, Chase plans to have a booth at “Take Back the Night” on April 18. This annual event will feature resources for sexual assault survivors.

Chase has big ambitions for AAUW.

Next year, she plans to collaborate with Career Services to bring in Judy Donahue from the Midland branch of Equal Pay Day, a pay equity advocacy group. Donahue speaks about relevant issues to college women like student debt and how to negotiate a salary.

Chase hopes to collaborate with other RSOs and departments.

“I would love to collaborate with the Pride Center and SAGSA,” Chase added.

So far, she’s spread the word through table sits and handing out feminist stickers, buttons and phone cases.

“Even if they never come to meetings, they’ll see the stickers and be like, ‘Huh, what’s this about equal pay?’” Chase said. “If I could reach just one person, I’m happy. It’s one less person that misunderstands feminism.”

She wants the group to be not only educational but fun as well.

While Vice President Claire Durling will be transferring to Grand Valley next year, she plans to establish an AAUW branch there and start a friendly rivalry between the two in educating and fundraising.

She stresses the acceptance of everyone in AAUW.

“I really want them to know feminism is inclusive and intersectional,” she said. “As a white woman, I face issues, but it’s definitely not the same as a woman of color.”

Chase also added that the group isn’t only restricted to women.

“I want guys to join and come to meetings, too,” she said. “They should be feminists.”

AAUW’s next meeting will be Tuesday, April 10, at 9:30 p.m. in Wedge Lounge 2.

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