Note: The term “womxn” is used intentionally to convey the inclusivity of trans and gender non-conforming individuals, as well as to acknowledge the critique around a white, cis, hetero patriarchical society that privileges white women.
March not only marks the start of the spring season, but also the beginning of Womxn’s History Month. In honor of this month and its celebration of past and present womxn and their accomplishments, Willamette’s Gender Resource and Advocacy Center (GRAC) is highlighting the impact of womxn leaders on campus.
Back in February, the GRAC sent out a nomination form for members of the Willamette community to nominate womxn who have demonstrated leadership and involvement during their time at the University. Nominees were open to students, faculty and staff.
From the nominations, the GRAC’s students and staff created posters featuring these womxn for their upcoming Womxn’s History Month poster and social media campaign.
As stated in promotional material for the campaign, “The purpose of this project is to offer formal recognition, visual representation and meaningful insight about leaders on our campus, using their own words to explain leadership, their hope for the future of our University and to illustrate what or who inspires them, and, in turn, how they inspire us.”
Andrea Hugmeyer, director of the GRAC and confidential advocate, explained that the initiative started last year as a way to recognize the student activism behind the grassroots effort of the STEAM Collective. Due to a later start in planning last year, posters did not roll out until April.
This year, however, work began earlier to better connect the campaign to Womxn’s History Month specifically. From the nomination form, nine Willamette womxn were selected as examples of strong leaders. The nominees were then contacted by the GRAC and asked a series of questions, including who their role model is and what their hope for a better Willamette is in a single word.
The inspiration behind the creation of the poster campaign came from a desire to reinvigorate March’s focus. “There are a lot of themed awareness-building months to drive programming efforts and over time, it seems like there is an absence of attention on Womxn’s History Month. I felt like the GRAC could fill this gap in some way,” Hugmeyer said.
The posters will be hung in different places on campus, such as in the Student Center for Equity and Empowerment and the Montag Loft spaces. They will be put up during the week before spring break and will also be featured on the GRAC’s Instagram @theloft_wu.
Hugmeyer concluded with a message about why this recognition is so critical: “It demonstrates modeling for others what a positive impact can look like. Gender division of labor means that work womxn do often goes unnoticed, unpaid or undervalued.”
For more information about the GRAC and its resources, please visit the Willamette website or email <grac-info>.