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An Exhibit on Student-oriented Organizations and Movements Advocating for Minoritized Communities

Curated by Emily Rice (she/her) and Sebastian Colon (he/him)

Student activists are at work all over the globe. Due to their contributions and significance to society, scholars that engage in activism have an exceptional ability to bring about widespread attention and advancements to a diverse range of different organizations and movements. They have advocated for historically marginalized groups of people through direct thought and action, demonstrations, research, writing, webinars, protests, media publications, and discussion. In this exhibit, we will be highlighting some of the organizations students co-create or actively participate in to fight back against unjust and systemic disadvantages in their communities.

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"Defund the Police Event Flyer 2021" by CCT Officers from Collegiate Community Transitions (CCT), 2021, CC BY-NC 4.0. From Feminist Community Archives of Washington (FCA-WA).

Event flyer for the February 10, 2021 Defund the Police Event held on Zoom by student activists. Student clubs associated with this event include Collegiate Community Transitions (CCT), Black Student Union (BSU), and Achieving Community Transformation (ACT). This flyer adds dimension to a broader understanding of student activism because student activists are advocating for social justice, wellness of their communities and better support for LGBTQ+ and other historically marginalized individuals via a webinar in order to promote inclusion, equitable access to higher education and achieving community transformation in the place of prisons, incarceration and penitentiaries.

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"Participants of the Trans Women of Color Demonstration", by Zoe Bear, 2016, CC BY-NC 4.0. From Feminist Community Archive of Washington (FCA-WA).

Pictured are a group of students, faculty and activists standing together to represent and advocate for trans women of color for the Silence Equals Violence Demonstrations at the University of Washington Bothell Quad. The moment was captured by student activist Zoe Bear, on February 22nd, 2016. This artifact adds dimension to a broader understanding of student-oriented/led organizations that promote activism while supporting historically marginalized communities.

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"The Chilly Classroom Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women" by Bernice Resnick Sandler, Lisa A. Silverberg, and Roberta M. Hall (NAWE), 1996, © 2010 Barnard Center for Research on Women. From the Gender and Sexuality in Higher Education Archive (BRCW).

Founded in 1916, the National Association for Women in Education, sought to improve the educational experience of women by advocating for their role in leadership and mentorship positions at colleges in order to make these institutions more understanding and responsive to the particular needs of their female alumni. In 1996, the NAWE published a report to follow up on their previous research that found numerous widespread accounts of women in academia being treated unfairly when compared to their male counterparts. In this report, NAWE sought to publish a guide listing their demands to address deep-rooted misogyny in educational institutions across the country.

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"Association des Françaises Diplômées des Universités: Historique 1920-1950", by the International Federation of University Women from the International Women and Social Movements Archive, 1950. COPYRIGHT © 2022 BY ALEXANDER STREET, A PROQUEST COMPANY

As the NAWE was making massive gains in amplifying the demands of university in the United States, the French Association of University women was similarly advocating for the role of women in higher education. They published a historical document that recounts their leaders, goals, and activities from 1920 to 1950. This document describes their goal to provide women with the skills and education they need to be successful as professionals by offering financial support through scholarships and grants and working closely with international organizations for women in education. Their commitment to the latter activity inspired them to offer these same opportunities to refugees from neighboring countries during World War II.

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"Above Ground: China's Young Feminist Activists and Forty Moments of Transformation", by Liangyu Fu and Meredith Kahn, 2022. From Women's Knowledge Digital Library.© 2022 Regents of the University of Michigan. Library Copyright Policy.

In the digital exhibit, Above Ground: China's Young Feminist Activists and Forty Moments of Transformation (2022), student activists Liangyu Fu and Meredith Kahn share China's long and deep history of feminist thought and action. Their exhibit showcases the work of recent feminist activists in China in order to reach out to a broader audience. Fu and Kahn’s goal is to spark interest in the history and presence of feminist activists, advocates, and scholars in China. This digital exhibit adds a further dimension to a broader understanding of student activism by bringing international attention to feminist movements in their own country which has battled gender discrimination, sexual harassment, violence against women, and homophobia for many years.

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"Makda Isak" (Interview Transcript) by Linda E. Carty and Chandra Talpade Mohanty, November 19, 2018. From the Feminist Freedom Warriors Archive.

As a black feminist graduate student studying in Germany, Makda Isak founded Mainz, a person-of-color student group to bring attention to the experiences of racialized students studying in Europe. In this interview for the Feminist Freedom Warriors project, Makda shared her experience of alienation in the German schooling system as few first-generation students would make it to her level of education. To combat the feeling that she didn’t belong in university, she formed a student group with friends that felt similarly. They began their activism by holding public discussions on racism in academia, platforming artists and scholars of color, and supporting similar student groups across Europe.

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"Gendered and Racial Impacts of the Fossil Fuel Industry in North America and Complicit Financial Institutions: A Call to Action for the Health of our Communities and Nature in the Climate Crisis" by Livia Charles, Safia Cissoko, Osprey Orielle Lake, 2021. From Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International.

A 2021 report co-created by a United Kingdom-based, student activist, Safia Cissoko addresses the “disproportionate gender and race-specific health and safety impacts as well as human and Indigenous rights issues of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure in the United States and selected parts of Canada – interlocking issues that have been sorely neglected in the discourse regarding fossil fuel extraction” (Cissoko et al, 2022). This directly relates student activism in historically marginalized communities through intersectionality and participation of student activists in the promotion of environmental and social change.

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"Women Who Rock 2011 Zine" by Women Who Rock, 2011. From The Women Who Rock Digital Oral History Archive.

Since the 1970s self-made and self-published periodicals, referred to as zines, have been used across many high school and college campuses across the US as a way to create a platform and a community for students without any other form of representation. Many large-scale zine publications, like Slug and Lettuce, specifically started to connect feminist scholars and punks across college campuses. The Women Who Rock Community began their work to bring together and support female artists, scholars, and activists by reaching out to university women of the Seattle area by circulating zines for their first conference at Seattle University.

The artifacts in this exhibit demonstrate that marginalized scholars have always had to take time out of their academic pursuits to support each other and their communities through injustice, whether it's police brutality, environmental catastrophe, or systemic misogyny. Student activists continue to organize and make major contributions to the wellness and support of womxn, LGBTQ+, and other historically marginalized groups of people and we hope this exhibit shows the scholars of this generation their potential to make a difference.

References

  1. Association des Françaises Diplômées des Universités: Historique 1920-1950. (1950). International Federation of University Women (IFUW, Box 3-5), Atria: Institute on Gender Equality and Women's History. Accessed March 9, 2022, from Women and Social Movements, International database. 
  2. Bear, Zoe, “Participants of the Trans Women of Color Demonstration A group of students, faculty and activists standing together representing and advocating for trans women of color for the Silence Equals Violence Demonstration at the UW Bothell Quad,” Feminist Archive Exhibits, accessed March 7, 2022, https://uwb.ds.lib.uw.edu/feministarchiveexhibits/admin/items/show/173 
  3. Carty, L. E., Mohanty, C. T., Isak, M. (2018, November 19). Makda Isak [interview]. Accessed March 9, 2022, http://feministfreedomwarriors.org/watchvideo.php?firstname=Makda&lastname=Isak from Feminist Freedom Warriors Archive.
  4. CCT officers, “DEFUND THE POLICE, a live educational event flyer,” Feminist Archive Exhibits, accessed March 7, 2022, https://uwb.ds.lib.uw.edu/feministarchiveexhibits/items/show/151.
  5. Liangyu Fu and Meredith Kahn, “Above Ground: China's Young Feminist Activists and Forty Moments of Transformation,” Women's Knowledge Digital Library, accessed March 7, 2022, https://womensdigitallibrary.org/items/show/1200 
  6. Livia Charles, Safia Cissoko, Osprey Orielle Lake, “Gendered and Racial Impacts of the Fossil Fuel Industry in North America and Complicit Financial Institutions: A Call to Action for the Health of our Communities and Nature in the Climate Crisis,” Women's Knowledge Digital Library, accessed March 7, 2022, https://womensdigitallibrary.org/items/show/1199.
  7. The Chilly Classroom Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women (1996). National Association for Women in Education. https://bcrw.barnard.edu/archive/education.htm Accessed March 9, 2022 from Barnard Center for Research on Women - Gender and Sexuality in Higher Education Archive.
  8. Women Who Rock, “Women Who Rock 2011 Zine,” accessed March 9, 2022, https://uwb.ds.lib.uw.edu/feministarchiveexhibits/items/show/177 from University of Washington-Bothell Feminist Archive Exhibits

About the Curators

Emily Rice is an ecofeminist researcher and writer based out of Washington State. She is interested in the varied articulations of protests and resistance within feminisms and LGBTQ+ movements. Emily is actively involved in sexual justice activism and seeks to acknowledge and challenge gender bias’s. Her goal is to improve access to women's knowledge productions while prioritizing the voices of historically marginalized groups of people.

Sebastian Colon is an undergraduate student at the University of Washington-Bothell studying Computer Science and Software Engineering. To promote open-access feminist knowledge production for Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, he wrote, researched, and edited for the Feminist Archive Exhibit at UWB.

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