An open letter of appreciation, acknowledgement, and thanks from the BWC

by Kelsey Koontz

Dear Sewanee,

The women of the Bairnwick Women’s Center want to thank you for your support, and we want to thank you for challenging us. We are barely a month into the academic year and have already thrown a lot your way. We kicked-off our programming with a potluck dinner, bringing together different student-led organizations, and so many of you participated, offering homemade dishes to share.

Soon after that was the Senior Women’s Debut. We “shared our secrets,” sang along to our favorite anthems, danced the night away, and got swanky. Then, preparations were quickly underway for our first Pinnacle Luncheon of the year, and you arrived in unprecedented numbers to listen to your friends and to applaud them for sharing their stories and lessons they have learned. After we asked you to help us build Sewanee stronger, IFC/ISC and key members of the administration worked with us to organize a Town Hall on Sewanee’s sexual misconduct policy. You asked thoughtful and honest questions and responsibly took the initiative to get informed. Next, we decided to shake things up: we brought you the Female Orgasm. Sewanee, you were amazing! Thank you for your openness and your candor. We knew that our advertising would be provocative and demand your attention, but you trusted us to deliver an all-encompassing experience that was informative, inclusive, witty, and tasteful. There are 1,000 seats in Guerry Auditorium, and we still had people sitting in the balcony. We were simply floored by your support, and we cannot even begin to describe how much it meant to us. We hope it was a worthwhile experience for you all.

To be completely transparent, we acknowledge that our advertising was provocative. The posters and t-shirts were part of a publicity package given to us by the program coordinators that host sexual health and education events around the country; the advertising was not our own creation, but we stand by it entirely. We stand by it because of the open conversation that it provoked on campus. Whether that resulted in approval, disapproval, or ambivalence, you shared your opinions and started an important dialogue in the community about sexual health and sexual preference. We believe that talking about topics like female sexuality and pleasure are the first steps in a larger journey towards promoting and establishing healthier and more equal ideas about sexual experiences. Furthermore, we feel that a culture in which women truly know and own their bodies in the fullest sense leads to empowerment and better inter-personal understandings between both men and women.

We think that sexual health is not discussed nearly enough. An inability to talk about sex in an open and honest way leads to miscommunication in those moments when clarity of intentions and desires is the most critical. The ability to clearly communicate what you want and what you do not want sexually is essential to building healthy relationships. It was our intention that by sparking this discussion, we may all begin to feel more comfortable having these conversations.

We owe a big thank you to the administration—and the Vice Chancellor in particular, for the recent initiatives that focus on fostering healthy, respectful relationships on campus. Encouraging more open dialogue between students is a crucial part of that initiative. Thank you for trusting that our goals are the same.

So thank you, Sewanee.

As a community, you truly are what sustains us. Your support has been immensely fulfilling and encouraging. Thank you for your appreciation, and for our assurance. If there is ever anything we can improve upon, or if there is anything you think Sewanee needs that the Women’s Center can offer, we welcome your suggestions. Please email us at bairnwickwc@gmail.com.

We also invite you to visit our open office hours, held on Mondays 10:00-11:30AM, Tuesdays 8:00-9:30PM, and Wednesdays 1-2:30 PM.

YSR & EQB,
The BWC

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