In the last week of October, the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women held a #MeToo Forum for students on campus to discuss contemporary issues directly related to women. The discussion spawned dialogue on women’s equality, gender standards, and the need for change. The #MeToo Forum emphasized the need for conversation on these issues on Siena’s campus. In response to this need, Beth DeAngelis, the director of the Women’s Center, created a monthly talk circle for women students on campus.
Beth facilitated this first talk circle but explained that other circles will be student-run. Students will also have the opportunity to anonymously fill out a sheet suggesting topics for discussion in future circles. She emphasized the importance of having safe spaces and places for discussion, especially for female college students. It is also important to mention that what is said in the circle does not leave the room, but what is learned in the circle can and should be shared with others.
The circle is intended to be an open space that fosters honest discussion about issues faced by college women. One of the topics discussed was women being held to a higher standard than men, especially in terms of appearance. This segued into a discussion on how women are perceived in the classroom with focus on class participation. As a female college student, it can sometimes be difficult to speak up in class for fear of being judged, especially in male-dominated settings. I have been to forums at Siena where the conservations are dominated or overtaken by male students, which sometimes makes it even harder for me to add my voice to the conversation. It is important for students to be aware of those who are hesitant or struggling to enter the classroom dialogue and make the space welcoming and open for them. Class discussion is a vital component of the college classroom experience, and everyone should feel comfortable in sharing their voice.
Siena’s Women’s Center frequently hosts events and forums that encourage women’s participation, so be sure to attend next month’s talk circle and stay updated on their events through SaintsConnect! You can learn more about the Women’s Center here at their website.