An Open Letter from the Bairnwick Women’s Center

by Avery Kelly

Dearest Sewanee,

As the semester draws to a close, we at the Bairnwick Women’s Center wanted to take the opportunity to write a brief note to you all in this last issue of the Purple. We have worked incredibly hard this semester in hopes to bring engaging, innovative– and yes, somewhat provocative- programming to campus and to try to do our part in Building Sewanee Stronger by re-conceptualizing Sewanee experiences and by shaking things up a bit. We are so grateful for the support and uplift we continue to receive from the student body, faculty, staff, and other community members. Thank you to all of you who have participated in our events, given us feedback, and challenged us to push ourselves farther to address the needs and concerns of the Sewanee community to the best of our abilities. We continue to learn and grow as a team, a justice and equality movement, and as individuals with your input and candidness. We hope that we have made a positive impact on the lives of both Sewanee women and men thus far in the school year and are determined to further strive to promote a more egalitarian, accepting, and inclusive campus with more DMC’s (deep meaningful conversations).

In case you missed them, we’ve had several different events this semester in what we hope represent a variety of pertinent interests and issues on campus. Since our last open letter, we have held writing workshops, book clubs, Tuesday Toasts, Pinnacle Luncheons, Wellness Week (with the help of the Good Life House!) and most recently hosted a date night, started a collective, and have begun the Sewanee Speaks: A Sharing of Secrets campaign as a precursor to Sewanee Monologues next semester. To learn more about our events and/or to tell us what you thought about them, please contact us! We love to hear from you. We will also be sending out a survey in the next few weeks to gauge student satisfaction with our programming and to find out what you would like to see more.

In the spirit of reflecting upon how we’ve developed as a campus and a student body this semester, we are calling for yet another positive change. Sexual assault and other negative sexual encounters have been a recurring theme in the University’s programming, policy changes, and concerns of students, organizations, and the administration alike. Already there have been huge improvements in this regard, as the University has moved to better align its overlapping structures of support for men and women on campus in situations of crisis.

There has been a meeting with the Sexual Assault Crisis Response Team and its advisory board, which we applaud. We at the BWC think that it is crucial for even more concrete and meaningful steps to be made in engaging these issues as effectively as possible. Thus, we believe it would be a great way to compliment the progress that has already been made with a bystander intervention program focusing on men’s education to be implemented on campus, perhaps in a similar manner as the FEED program required of new sorority members. We strongly urge the administration to continue to take these grave issues seriously by truly considering implementing such a program that would change the way students interact with and treat one another for the better.

Sewanee, thank you for all you have given us– both in praise and in criticism this semester. Let’s continue to support each other and to Build Sewanee Stronger. As 2013 on the mountain draws to a close, we encourage all of you (ourselves included!) to reflect on the past semester and on how we have lived together as a community. How have we grown? How have we failed each other and ourselves? How can we challenge ourselves to live more presently, more genuinely, and more positively? Cheers to a beautiful semester and to the one to come!

Peace, Love, YSR, and EQB,
The Women of the ‘Wick