March 25, 2010
The Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Voices for Women is a unique student organization advised by George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Professor of Philosophy Margaret McLaren and Assistant Professor of Art History Kimberly L. Dennis. The current Voices for Women began as the Sexual Misconduct Task Force in 2005. Since then, the group has evolved to take on additional womens’ issues and was since renamed Voices for Women, a feminist group that was originally founded at Rollins by four students in 1992.
Today, Voices for Women seeks to promote awareness of women and gender issues on campus. “Voices for Women aims to celebrate women, empower women at Rollins, raise awareness about sexual assault and speak up when any form of gender-related injustice takes place on our campus,” said Dennis. We also seek to collaborate with other groups, especially those under the OMA umbrella. As feminists, we believe that it’s not enough to fight one form of oppression – no one can truly enjoy equality until all oppressions are lifted.”
Dennis became involved with Voices for Women through her participation in the Sexual Misconduct Task Force in the Fall of 2005. She cites Spring 2009’s Take Back the Night march as one of her most memorable experiences with the group. The march involved a group of students, faculty, and staff marching through campus chanting and putting up posters with information on sexual violence. Toward the end, the group convened in front of the Mills building, where individuals had the opportunity to speak out and share their experiences with sexual assault. Dennis believes the experience was empowering, moving and created a strong sense of community.
McLaren has been with Voices for Women since 1992. She states that the energy and commitment of students keeps her actively engaged in the group. McLaren cites 2009’s Vagina Monologues as one of her most memorable moments with Voices for Women. The group raised funds to cover the funeral expenses for Diana Ware, a Hamilton Holt student, by selling cookies, popcorn and t-shirts at the event.
Both McLaren and Dennis enjoy advising Voices for Women and have become model professors and community members. “Anyone can be an ally against sexism and oppression,” said McLaren. “Voices for Women is a positive and welcoming group that seeks to make Rollins a better place for all members of our community,” added Dennis. “We are interested in advocating for every kind of diversity and we welcome faculty, staff, and students --male and female -- from all backgrounds that have an interest in any issues relating to women. We’ve recently started to see some men get involved and we're thrilled with that and would love to welcome more men into our group.”
Voices for Women meets on Thursdays, at 5:30 p.m. in Orlando Hall Room 113. For more information on Voices for Women, contact student co-presidents Shannon Frey (firstname.lastname@example.org), Lizzie Hovanetz (email@example.com) or Shae Fuller (firstname.lastname@example.org).
-Kerem K. Rivera
Class of 2010