Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brown Bag 1/28: Community Building

 A common frustration we hear during the Women’s Studies Brown Bags is that we have our “regulars” who attend the brown bags every week without fail and yet these “regulars” don’t even know one another. They see each other every week and discuss intimate topics related to feminism, and yet they don’t even know each other’s name or acknowledge each other on the quad. We, as Women’s Studies Interns, decided to try something new and host a Brown Bag solely dedicated towards community building to combat this problem.
We started off with some ground rules that would be implemented specifically during Brown Bags (but most apply at all times). These guidelines, formulated by the interns and audience members, included “respect confidentiality, exit quietly, use gender neutral language, and awareness of differences.”  
After the guidelines had been brainstormed, interns led various exercises designed to allow people to get to know one another. To get people comfortable with talking to one another everyone was asked to discuss an artifact or item that represents an aspect of their identity with their neighbor. For example, an artifact could signify a relationship with a particular person or region.  Then, the second activity fostered an appreciation of the diverse identities within the space by having people write down and share their own identities.  Some that were mentioned were ‘student,’ ‘sibling,’ ‘feminist’ (!), ‘athlete,’ ‘gay,’ etc. Finally, the third activity asked people to write down the most important person, place, and life event. Then, they had to get to know a stranger without mentioning any of the words they had identified as most important. This cultivated very different conversations than the ones students were used to having.
Although the Brown Bag started with people dragging their heels and unwilling to participate, eventually many appreciated what the brown bag was trying to accomplish. For those that actively engaged in the tasks, the Brown Bag was a success!

- Michelle Van Veen '14

Monday, January 27, 2014

What Do You Mean The Hookup Culture Is A Social Construct?!

If you've ever attended college, you're familiar with the term "hookup culture." If the college you attended was Colgate, the idea has crept its way into approximately 47%* of your classes and personal conversations. If you're anything like me, your first time hearing the term was great because you finally had a word for the phenomenon you had been witnessing in your environment...and then after years and years of critique after critique you were fatigued of the conversation.

That was until I read this.

Truthfully this isn't the first article like this that I've read, but for sake of argument let's just say it was. I'm not entirely surprised since we know that this entire idea is pretty exclusive to a certain group, but isn't this painfully hilarious? We gave this behavior a name and suddenly it's dominates college life even though the numbers clearly indicate something completely different. I remember reading the Campus Climate survey and seeing the number of sexual partners Colgate students admitted they had during their time here and it was by NO means indicative of the emotionless orgy that we often talk about...but we still use the term hookup culture to describe Saturdays at The Jug! How can we call ourselves academics if we're clearly not using the quantitative data to support our opinions? Sure, Colgate students are having sex and sometimes with different partners during any given semester, but is Colgate an extended version of Spring Breakers? Definitely not.

The fact that so many people are feeling left out of something that hardly exists is especially hilarious to me. We throw around this term so often and discuss the implications so frequently that we've actually made members of our community feel like they're missing out on something that is hardly real! We're actually sitting in our 9:55's thinking everyone but us got some last night when the numbers seem to suggest that everyone was probably just drunk at Slices.

In short, there's no need to feel bad if you're not having wild sex with strangers every night because your peers probably aren't either. 

I really hope I'm not the only one laughing at this.

Love You Like XO,

P.S.: I am in no way advocating or discouraging anyone's personal sexual choices. As long as everyone is consenting, I could not care less about what you choose to do or not do with your own genitals.

*NOTE: percentage based on no math at all

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Brown Bag Reflection: “Last Chance for Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting the Birmingham Church Bombers”

            The first Women’s Studies Brown Bag of 2014 fit the theme of Colgate’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Week.  This year’s week-long activities commemorating the life of Dr. King were co-sponsored by ALANA, the Dean of the College, the Office of Equity and Diversity, the Department of Environmental Studies, the Jewish Student Union, the Africana and Latin American Studies Program, and the Colgate Speaking Union.  TK Thorne gave a presentation in front of a large Brown Bag crowd called “Last Chance for Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting the Birmingham Church Bombers.”  Thorne is the retired captain of the Birmingham, Alabama police department.  She writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Her first book Noah’s Wife was named the “Book of the Year for Historical Fiction” by ForeWord Reviews. 
            At the Brown Bag, she talked about her newest book, a non-fiction work called Last Chance for Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting the Birmingham Church Bombers.  Through her job in the Birmingham police department, she worked to re-open the cold case of the 16th Street Birmingham church bombings that occurred on September 15, 1963. On that fateful Sunday morning, a bomb set outside an African American church exploded, killing four young girls inside. Only one man, Robert “Dynamite Bob” Chambliss had been convicted in the murders although many suspected he was part of a larger conspiracy with others involved.  Last Chance for Justice tells the story of the FBI investigation that was reopened thirty plus years later in an attempt to finally solve the case and achieve true justice for the four young lives that were lost.
            The night before the Brown Bag, along with a few other students, I had the opportunity to attend a dinner organized by Rabbi Dena Bodian about women in law enforcement.  Along with TK Thorne, the other dinner guests included Investigator Val Brogan of Colgate Campus Safety, Deputy Chief Gert Neubauer, Assistant Director of Colgate Campus Safety, and Lieutenant Kristina Sisbower of the New York State Police.  The four women spoke candidly of their involvement in the field of law enforcement.  It was such a great conversation, and I certainly learned a lot about how the field, although it has made great strides, still needs more women.  Hearing TK Thorne talk at the Brown Bag in addition to hearing everyone’s stories from the dinner really gave me a lot to think about in regards to the ongoing efforts to work towards equality for all.

-Lindsey Skerker '14