By Carley Crain
“My uterus, my rules!”
“Women’s history is your history!”
“The future is female!”
“Gender bias has got to go!”
Holding their arms up high, chanting loudly with bras worn on the outside of their shirts, members of the Springfield College community held homemade posters that shared the same universal message: women deserve a seat at the table.
To kick off Women’s History Month at Springfield College, the Women of Power club hosted the first-ever women’s march on campus.
A mix of students, faculty and staff of all gender identities gathered in front of the Campus Union and marched around the Admin Green in support of women’s rights. Multiple organizations on campus came together to rally awareness, such as the Student Government Association (SGA) and the women’s gymnastics team.
While the majority of participants were students who identify as female, several gender identities were represented at the march. They knew that their presence at the march was just as significant.
“I think it is important to support all women so they know they can do it. I am no greater than them. We all deserve to be on the same playing field,” said Anthony Mazzotta, a student who was carrying a “My body, my choice” sign.
Organizers of the march emphasized that it is crucial for men to use their privilege to be strong allies to all the women in their lives.
“I feel like it is as important (to have support) because it is not only a women’s issue, it is also a men’s issue,” senior Nathalie Beltran Vargas said. “Today was not only for women on campus, but it was also for men because if they use their platforms and positions to help women get to the places they want to be at they can become allies.”
Intersectionality was a common discussion point throughout the march. Paris Lizana, co-president of the Women of Power club, spoke about the intersection of her race and gender as a young Black woman, and why her identity is important for a broader perspective on feminism. To her, feminism isn’t just about being a woman. Instead, she looks at how it is an ideology that connects different statuses by advocating for equal rights amongst all gender identities.
“As a woman of color on campus, I feel like I have had a unique experience at Springfield College, especially in my program, sports management,” Lizana said. “I am one of the only (women of color). So I feel like a part of our activism on campus is teaching everyone about these unique experiences and how our different personalities and qualities intersect with each other.”
Another main theme from the march was that being a “feminist” is not just about supporting a select group of women and that the term values equality for everyone. Organizers of the march acknowledged that there are many stereotypes surrounding the label “feminist,” and that in order to break down the barriers of gender inequality society needs to be more open-minded about how the term continues to evolve.
“Feminism is not about making women strong – women are already strong,” said Annie Warchol, Director of Student Activities. “It is about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”
After the walk through campus, multiple speakers came together and spoke about what feminism means to them. Cooper and Warchol were some of the staff members that gave short speeches. Both talked about the importance of community and the power of representation.
“We need to lift everybody up and I say this a lot with students, praise each other, lift one another and support each other, whether that’s from the townhouse backyards to the lunchroom or on the court or off the court,” Warchol said.
Cooper added, “I am pleased to be the first female president of Springfield College and in the future when the next woman president comes along she won’t be the first and that’s what all of you will be doing.”
Numerous students presented their thoughts to the crowd as well. Senior Brianna D’Haiti read a poem she wrote about dealing with stereotypes that are brought upon women in today’s society.
“Resilience should be defined as how you overcome, learn, and heal from your experiences,” D’Haiti said. “No matter how long it has taken or will take. Because healing from a world of hurt can not be timed.”
Monday’s march was just the beginning of the Women of Power’s activities that are lined up for the month. The club is also hosting its second annual Sanitary Product Drive, with donations being brought to Christina’s House in downtown Springfield and to the Open Pantry Community Services. Boxes have been placed in all dorm buildings and there are in-person donation opportunities in the Union on March 14 and 28, from 12-1:30 p.m.
Photos Courtesy The Springfield Student