In March of 2012, the very first Women’s Studies Symposium took place on the campus of UTM.
Co-organized by Drs. Teresa Collard and Lisa LeBleu and hosted by the Women’s Center, the event began as a way for students from all disciplines to come together and discuss women’s studies issues. It was created to celebrate the Women’s Studies minor with the hopes of gaining more students and raising awareness of their subject areas.
“The Women’s Studies Symposium is an afternoon opportunity for students across campus to get together and explore women’s studies issues,” said Collard. “[It is] an educational endeavor to create awareness of women’s issues and topics.”
The sixth annual Women’s Studies Symposium took place throughout the afternoon of Tuesday, March 28, 2017, in the Boling University Center. This symposium had breakout sessions on a variety of topics, including women’s suffrage, pay equity, women in the media, social media and fashion, women’s self-defense and bystander awareness. The keynote speaker was Daryl Chansuthus, the executive director of WRAP (Wo/Men’s Resource and Rape Assistance Program).
The first women’s symposium discussed similar topics, with keynote speaker Lisa Smartt discussing how to be a strong woman.
The biggest difference between the first symposium and this year’s event is the attendance. Approximately 150 students attended the symposium in 2012, compared to the roughly 240 attendees this year.
“I think it’s important for students to have access to student-centered discussion,” said Collard. “More people across campus know about it, so they’re encouraging students to come and participate in the day, and it’s a nice way to talk about and think about women’s issues on campus with classmates in a safe environment.”
Although the symposium addresses topics of women’s studies, all students are welcomed to its events. Collard says that one of the main goals of the symposium is to open a dialogue about making the world a better place by working together, and all genders, ethnicities and cultures are needed to make that a reality.
Even faculty, staff and community members are involved in this event through participating on the Women’s Center Advisory Board, leading breakout sessions and attending and supporting the event.
The symposium always takes place during the last week of March to commemorate Women’s History Month. Students who were unable to attend this year’s symposium can still attend the Women’s Center’s monthly speaker on the second Tuesday of every month from 12:20-12:50. For more information about the symposium and monthly speakers, visit their UTM Women’s Center Facebook page.
Student Kathryn Fellman is photographed with Women’s Center Director, Dr. Teresa Collard, at the symposium (Photo Credit/Summer Patterson White).