Editorial: Building a more inclusive Women’s Initiative is a step towards progress
It is clear now more than ever that the landscape on college campuses is changing. Students are challenging each other to embrace discomfort and seek growth. Student Government’s Women’s Initiative (WI) is one of the many student organizations on our campus that is having tough conversations and working to better reflect the needs and interests of the campus community.
Following in the footsteps of Mount Holyoke College, a historically women’s college in Massachusetts, WI has decided to discontinue its tradition of performing Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.” Under the direction of Executive Director Kendall Baron, WI will also discontinue its “I Love Female Orgasm” event in the hopes of becoming more inclusive of all genders, whether binary or nonbinary.
In the past, many students, especially those identifying outside of the gender binary, had concerns with how WI was run and questioned if it was truly welcoming to all gender identities, leading some people to feel apprehensive about working with the organization. The community-based approach that Baron and her team have taken this semester should be recognized and applauded. The new “Breaking Ground Monologues,” which Baron will use to replace “The Vagina Monologues,” are an opportunity for students to share the stories of their bodies on their own terms rather than through pre-written monologues by Ensler.
As WI takes a more inclusive approach, we hope to see them continue to embrace new programming, such as starting workshops about transgender sexuality. During this time of transition, university partners such as the Center for Diversity and Inclusion have the potential to ensure that WI can continue to create an environment where all identities are represented, respected and appreciated.
Although we are in support of the “Breaking Ground Monologues,” we hope that all students will feel welcome to participate in them. Currently, there is a lack of information regarding who may submit monologues - whether or not they may identify as cisgender or trans - and how the submission review process will be conducted and by whom. In order to properly reach members of the student body who have felt underrepresented by WI in the past, it is crucial that these guidelines are clearly outlined and that more clarification is given regarding the event’s premise.
Nevertheless, Women’s Initiative is taking a step in the right direction. Creating spaces that promote inclusivity is not a simple task, and we commend WI for taking these steps of progress.