Women’s Center Hosts “Women Acting Up: BC in Action!” Activism Event

"Women Acting Up" was hosted as part of BC's events for Women's History Month./Kate Dempsey

By Kate Dempsey

 

   “Well-behaved women seldom make history”–this feminist adage by author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich resonated throughout the Women’s Center on March 26 as female activists discussed how they’ve created their own good trouble for a cause. “Women Acting Up: BC in Action!” was hosted in collaboration with the Brooklyn College Exchange and the Women’s History Month Committee.

   The goal of the event, according to organizers, was to highlight and celebrate the female activists in BC’s past and present advocating for change. They stated that these Bulldog activists are what make BC’s campus stronger and equitable amongst the larger student body. 

   “This year we chose the theme of ‘Women Acting Up,’ an ode to our activist sisters to honor what these past few months and years have been for us,” said Iqura Naheed, project coordinator for the Muslim Women’s Leadership Development Project (MWLDP) at the Women’s Center. “Today we want to both honor and remind ourselves of the courageous activism and achievements of women throughout Brooklyn College’s history and in the present who have for decades been challenging the injustices both on our campus and on a larger, global, and national scale.”

   Joining the legacy of activists included a panel of women from BC who continue to advocate for various causes, sharing their methods for enacting change with the audience. Professors and students alike expressed how creating solidarity in campaigning is critical 

   “It’s a constant process of education, political education, organizing, talking to people, and building solidarity, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do for 20 years,” Carolina Bank Muñoz, Professional Staff Congress (PSC) chapter chair for BC and a professor of sociology, said. 

   Speakers explained that advocacy work can take an emotional toll, especially if one is advocating for a cause that directly affects them. However, they expressed that organizing can be a source of strength through solidarity. 

   “Campaigning can be very emotional, so it’s a mix of emotions,” Alleyah Carlton, the Women Center’s social media manager and a senior at BC, said. “At first you’re angry or you’re just passionate because of the injustice happening and how it affects your life and the people around you, and you can also be empowered and feel strong because your peers are working together so passionately, so heartful on something.”

   Student activists emphasized that finding support through others is crucial to keep a movement going, especially in order to avoid burnout. Their advice for activists? Self-care and caring for one another.

   “The thing that we have to constantly remember is to take care of ourselves and each other,” Carlton said. “If you feel like your world is spinning out of control and you feel maybe weak alone, it will crumble your movement from the inside. So that’s why it’s important to have that togetherness.”

   Leaders of the Women’s Center expressed their own advocacy in protesting for funding for the Women’s Center, and the need for solidarity to keep their actions going. As previously reported by The Vanguard, the Women’s Center led protests and petitions demanding administration expedite the hiring freeze causing vacant spots in the Center in the fall 2023 semester. 

   “Our staff and students have experienced a severe budget crisis that has made it difficult to function at the current capacity we normally do. However, we have persisted in large part due to the community of solidarity we have on campus with different organizations, offices, and individuals,” said Naheed. “I hope today can be a testament to how linked all of our struggles are, and the important role solidarity plays in pushing all movements forward.

   While large actions such as holding protests, walkouts, and sit-ins are impactful ways to advocate, speakers at the event stated that it’s not the only way. Smaller actions, such as signing a petition, talking to a representative, and educating oneself, are all ways to make an impact. 

   “Even though you make small little stands they do add up as the years go by, and you make it better for the students that come behind you,” said Crystal Schloss, an organizer for Black Faculty and Staff (BFS) at BC. “Keep making trouble, always make trouble even if it’s a little bit because a small seed can grow into a big tree.”

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