The Women’s Collective hosted a panel discussion last Wednesday addressing the various experiences of being a woman at the College. The Women’s Collective invited five women ranging from sophomores to seniors to be on a discussion panel: Jenna Adams ’14, Anyela Perez ’14, Kate Flanagan ’14, Olivia Polk ’16 and Veronica Gould ’15. The event filled the Log with a similarly diverse group of students and ended with a Q-and-A session with the panel members.
The panelists brought an array of experiences and leadership positions to the discussion. Among the speakers were a former and current Junior Advisor (JA), a member of the honor committee, an environmental activist and a varsity athlete. One panelist provided a glimpse into her experiences as a Latina at the College, while another focused on her first year at the College and what she hoped to learn from her older peers. No subject was left off the table, as the panelists discussed their experiences with dropping classes, living in a predominately male suite as a woman or balancing leadership and extracurricular responsibilities amid endless schoolwork and other time commitments. Throughout the discussion by panelist members and the coalition leadership, the emphasis on candid, honest and engaging discussion of the many facets of being a woman at the College was evident as a clear objective of the Women’s Collective this year.
“I was happy to be asked to go to an event that paved the way for what the Women’s Collective is in my mind,” Polk said. “It was nice to have the opportunity to talk about solidarity building, which is, I think, hopefully going to be the main goal of the Women’s Collective in semesters to come.”
Adams likewise was honored to be a part of Wednesday’s panel. “I not only enjoyed sharing my own experiences, but also listening to the stories of my peers,” she said. “Women at [the College] have vastly different backgrounds and experiences that impact the way in which gender becomes a part of our larger identities. This panel emphasized for me the importance of reflecting on how identifying as a woman influences your status and voice on this campus as well as the need to seek female role models throughout life.”
Last fall, three of the College’s women’s groups on campus, the Women’s Center, the Women of Color Coalition and the Women of Color Research Center (WCRC) merged together to ultimately form the Women’s Coalition (“Women’s groups consider merger,” Dec. 5). The various groups had witnessed a decline in attendance at their programmed events, as well as a shortage of interest in getting involved with the leadership of these organizations. The hope was that the consolidation of the groups under a single banner organization would spark collaboration and innovation that would lead to a stronger platform for women’s issues on campus.
“I would say the consolidation process has proved successful,” Radjapova ’14, Women’s Collective co-chair, said. “I am happy that the Women’s Collective was able to incorporate their mission … in order to address the needs of our constituents better.”
“I think the panel was important because sometimes at Williams we forget that women might face additional difficulties just because they are women,” Radjapova said of the panel conversation. “I think that sometimes because Williams is fairly progressive, we assume that all problems have been solved. This event was an opportunity to collectively reflect on our experiences as women on campus.”
Radjapova expressed her excitement for the year ahead with the Women’s Collective. “We are working on several big events, but more importantly we want to better address the needs of our constituency, so we are willing to listen and open to suggestions!”