Identity Collages - made by students in the Spring 2013 Transnational Women's Studies course (Instructor: Jessica Glover)
The Student Community
In addition to serving students through academic course offerings, Gender and Women’s Studies works with leaders in OSU student groups such as Oklahoma State Queers and Allies (OSQ&A), National Organization for Women (NOW), Women’s Resource Center Student Alliance (WRC), and Minority Women’s Association (MWA). Students in these groups have been inspired by academic work in GWST classes to carry analyses into the public sphere. But you don’t have to be enrolled in a GWST class to enjoy the camaraderie these groups provide.
OSQ&A provides support for LGBTQI individuals, develops avenues for social cohesion, and addresses important national and local issues that affect the LGBTQI community as a whole. Recently, we have collaborated with OSQ&A to host visiting scholars who are nationally known queer theorists and to bring historical exhibits that archive the gay rights movement in America. OSU-NOW is an unofficial chapter of the National Organization for Women. With NOW we have sponsored films, poets, and events such as the Queer and Women’s Art and Poetry Festival in downtown Stillwater. The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is a student group that sponsors reading circles and recently worked to produce the Vagina Monologues. Another group of OSU students founded their own group, Oklahomans for Reproductive Justice. (ok4rj.org)
We are always willing to partner with student groups to sponsor programs that appeal to underrepresented students, especially women of color. To this end we have, for example, organized a Native American Women Filmmakers Forum, a public lecture by historian of African American women Paula Giddings, a visit by Loretta Ross of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Coalition, and Andrea Smith, Cherokee activist and author. (See the archives under “events” for more on these public programs.)
GWST has also been instrumental in connecting students with national advocacy groups such as the Washington, D.C.-based group Advocates for Youth and the New York-based National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and has organized trips to conferences such as the annual Civil Liberties and Public Policy conference at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. We also have hosted events that bring together Gender and Women’s Studies students from University of Oklahoma and Tulsa University. If you are interested in pursuing advocacy work, the nonprofit sector, higher education, or social justice careers, Gender and Women’s Studies can be a great place to start.
We encourage students to visit the websites of these student organizations.
Gender and Women's Studies Students Meet Gloria Steinem
My name is Debbye Scroggins and I am a senior at Oklahoma State. I am majoring in American Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies. I am currently working on an independent study with Dr. Barbara Santee, a staunch abortion rights advocate who has been fighting for the cause for the past five decades. Thanks to Dr. Santee’s determination and the help of many gracious donors, I was recently afforded the opportunity to attend the Gloria Steinem Choice USA conference in Washington D.C.
Dr. Santee has met with Gloria Steinem on numerous occasions and so she instructed me to tell Ms. Steinem that her “Okie” friend said hello. That opportunity came less than 48 hours later when Ms. Steinem randomly popped into the first workshop I attended at the conference. It was awe inspiring. The speakers were presenting material and then suddenly there was a hush over the entire room. One of the speakers finally had the wherewithal to announce that Gloria had entered the room. I don’t know that I have ever been moved so greatly—it was as if the entire struggle of women throughout history flashed before my eyes. I have never experienced anything like that emotion ever before.
Ms. Steinem made her appearance quite brief, but I was able to meet with her later that evening at a reception held for Choice USA members. I chatted with her about my research into eugenics and sterilization practices and was fortunate enough to have my picture made with her. After that, I found a seat and was enjoying the provisions when I looked up to find Ms. Steinem sitting next to me. I had the good fortune to have found a seat right next to the awards stage. I asked her if I needed to move and she said “I don’t see why you should”—so nearly every picture taken of Gloria during the awards presentation has me in it.
Gloria did not stay long that evening. She had to get back to New York City and ended up leaving as soon as the awards were presented. Even though my time with her was short, she made a lasting impression on me that will not soon be forgotten. Her presence reminded me of the struggles women have faced and will continue to face in the current political climate. It also reminded me that there is still a long way to go, baby. We need to get to work…