This year’s Women’s History Month commemorated female ingenuity and empowerment on campus through events and discussions hosted by several student organizations.
Makayla Alicea, ’21, shared her beliefs regarding the importance of celebrating women’s accomplishments, especially on college campuses, in a patriarchal society.
“Most of the institutions that govern our lives were created by men — white men — and (these institutions) continue to be dominated by men,” Alicea said. “Through my time working and learning with communities of women, I have realized that the future is female and women are going to create solutions for injustices unlike any other solutions we have ever seen before because of our lived experiences … Women’s History Month is important because we need to recognize these women — it is not to just say that we need a month dedicated to women, but to make others recognize that women and their accomplishments are important, too.”
Alicea reflected on her own experiences as a woman of color, who has pioneered community organizing in Meadville and the lack of recognition that she — like many other women, particularly women of color — experience for their contributions to society.
“I celebrate women every single day,” Alicea said. “The reality is that we need to recognize how structurally broken society really is — women’s work is not appreciated. Hell, our work is not even welcomed, recognized or thought of by the majority of our society.”
Latinas on the Rise celebrated Women’s History Month by sharing stories of women and their accomplishments on their Instagram page.
“In celebration of Women’s History Month, every Monday of March, we will be sharing powerful Latina figures that have inspired us and made history,” the group announced on their Instagram.
For the first post of the series, LR highlighted Sara Gomez, the first female film director in Cuba. Gomez directed documentaries in opposition to the revolutionary society in Cuba. She also explored the positions of women and Afro-Cubans within the Cuban society.
Sylvia Rivera, a Venezuelan-Puerto Rican trans woman, was featured by the organization for her contributions to pioneering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer activism. Rivera co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, dedicated to empowering members of the LGBTQ community.
Following Rivera, LR created a tribute to Selena Quintanilla, who popularized Mexican Tejano Music in society. She received a Grammy for her work in the music industry in 1993. In 1995, Quintanilla was murdered by her former manager, but she left a legacy in the music industry as one of the most influential Latin artists.
Alicea encouraged other students to continue to educate themselves on the contributions that women make to society as well as to continue to create an atmosphere of support and empowerment on campus for young women.
“In reality, it takes us longer than a month to break barriers — to smash those glass ceilings,” Alicea said. “As a young woman myself, my aspirations are in fields dominated by men — white men — and so it is very crucial to have community support as a woman. We all must support each other because our experiences are not the same, especially for women across different races.”
LR also hosted several events throughout the month. On March 4, the organization met for their first general body meeting of the semester, which they dedicated to Women’s History Month. LR also hosted Paint the Night Away on March 11 in Quigley Hall Auditorium. Members of the community gathered in the auditorium to paint together.
To commemorate Women’s History Month, Black Girl Magic hosted several events centered around empowerment and appreciation for women.
On March 12, BGM hosted their general body meeting, which they converted into a self care day for their members.
BGM also brought Seton Hill University’s Associate Dean of Diversity & Inclusion and International Students Keisha Jimmerson to discuss resilience of womanhood. The event was hosted in the Tippie Alumni Center, on March 19, and Jimmerson attended via Zoom. The women in attendance received gift bags and were able to enter a raffle for additional gifts as well.
Jimmerson discussed the importance of finding one’s purpose in life and realizing their potential as a woman. The audience was able to interact with Jimmerson and share their experiences at the institution with the audience. Jimmerson offered advice to the women in attendance and reflected on her personal experiences at Seton Hill University and how women can learn and grow with one another from our experiences. Jimmerson also emphasized the importance of unity and support among communities of women and asked the attendees to reflect on the meaning of resiliency within their own experiences.
In addition to events, BGM also hosted a series of giveaways for four women, who were nominated by members of our community.
“Each week, students from different class years will nominate women that inspire or motivate them,” BGM explained. “That woman will receive a goodie bag containing nice items.”
Anyone is welcome to nominate an individual for any class year and can place a nomination by direct messaging BGM on Instagram or sending an email to the organization.
On March 10, Aadya Davis, ’24, received the first giveaway bag after being nominated by members of the community. On March 17, Lex Caldwell, ’23, was the recipient of the second giveaway bag. Anyone in the junior or senior class is still eligible to receive a giveaway if they are nominated prior to March 31.
LR, BGM and Queer People of Color are also collaborating to host a virtual discussion on dating at a predominantly white institution for women of color. “Dating Pool? What Dating Pool?” will take place on March 26 via Zoom at 6 p.m. Members o2f the community can submit their experiences with dating at Allegheny to LR, QPOC or BGM via Instagram.