By Avery Kelly
As many upperclassmen can attest to, in a semester abroad you almost inevitably develop new perspectives from which to view yourself, the new world around you, and the world you left behind. Even that lovely mountain back in Sewanee, Tennessee that you thought you knew so well eventually begins to shift to a somewhat nuanced place in your mind. As a couple of other crazy students like myself who decided to leave this place to study abroad for an entire year know, two semesters away serves you up a double shot of (sometimes hard-to-swallow) experiences that challenge even your most innate and seemingly steadfast perspectives.
For better or worse, reimmersing yourself into Sewanee life means reassessing what you mean to Sewanee and whatSewanee means to you. You look at the community you missed so much with new eyes, seeing some things you remember with love, but viewing others with a bit of unease, not knowing how to interpret them. Oh, and you also get a bit of good ole’ culture shock as you replace your trendy globetrotting kicks for muddy Chaco’s, start making endless rounds in Clurg-world, and think about going out for the night around 7pm (what?!).
As I readjust to Sewanee life after a year in Buenos Aires, I feel very fortunate to have a role with the Women’s Center as a resident and executive board member. I am incredibly excited and thankful to be enveloped in the Women’s Center community and have a chance to really channel some of my own new perspectives and interests through the organization’s platforms for community engagement and fostering meaningful student conversations.
This brings me to some of the overarching goals of the Women’s Center this year. For one, we’re really hoping to connect with the student body in new and interesting ways– so expect more sticky-note-esque projects on campus.
We are also making it of upmost priority to engage Sewanee men. After all, gender issues impact us all! (Y’all know I had to say it.) The Women’s Center believes that open communication between and within men and women about pertinent issues is the most effective and impactful way to get conversations going, foment awareness and understanding, and incite real change.
Another big one for us is challenging some existing misconceptions (while thoughtfully considering constructive points) about the Women’s Center’s presence on campus as creating “women vs. men” sentiments. We hope to show our peers that, well, ‘you don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.’ Even if individual interpretations ofit will– from subtleties like more women speaking up in class to profound changes like a normalized culture of by-stander intervention in instances of possible sexual assault.
Other areas of interest for our programming this year include: mentorship, health and wellness, diffusion of new university policies and information on sexual misconduct, communication with student leaders and groups, and provision of an open forum for suggestions and support. Of course, we’re hoping all of this will come together in the name of ‘building Sewanee stronger.’ Also, we’re trying to get people pumped about female orgasms. (Seriously. See below!)
This year’s Women’s Center executive board and residents are: Joanna Parkman (Co-Director), Kelsey Koontz (CoDirector) Hope Faulk, Adele Ewan, Mary Graham Harvey, Sarah High, Michelle Howell, Katherine Lafferrandre, Mary Ottley, Emily Susman, Sarah Flowers, and myself.
Upcoming events this month are:
Friday, Sept. 13: Senior Debut, a yearly tradition for Sewanee’s senior women.
Tuesday, Sept. 17: Pinnacle Luncheon featuring seniors Kelsey Koontz, Caroline Roberts, Emily Blau, Will Minter, Vikash Naran, and Pierce Meyers who will talk about what ‘building Sewanee stronger’ means to them.
Monday, Sept. 23: I Love the Female Orgasm event led by fun and engaging professionals with answers to some often unasked questions
Thursday, Sept. 26: Writing Workshop kickoff
Keep up with the WC on Facebook: Sewanee Women’s Center, Twitter: Sewanee_wc, Instagram: bairnwick_womens_center, and of course, the old fashioned way– right here in the Purple.