New group on campus focuses on female issues, empowerment
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 01:02
The F-word has been brought to UNH in a new way. The topic is feminism. UNH VOX, or Voices of Planned Parenthood, is a brand new organization on campus. The student-run group has only had two meetings thus far, but its members are optimistic about its future.
“Mainly, we focus on reproductive issues and also contemporary feminist issues, so like body image, sex positivity, etc.,” said Co- founder and Social Media Coordinator Hannah Dooling.
VOX’s main goal in having this organization on campus is to raise awareness and to educate the campus on college issues that are present, just as they would be on any other campus.
“It’s important to know about these issues like victim blaming and slut shaming,” Dooling said.
As its website states, UNH VOX seeks to educate, empower, activate, and unite the voices within our community regarding contemporary feminist issues, including, but not limited to reproductive justice, sexual freedom, gender equality and body image.
During a typical meeting, co-founders said they don’t want to dictate what everyone talks about. They ask what members want to focus on so everyone can be a part of discussion.
The four co-founders started this organization when they realized that there was no VOX chapter in New Hampshire at all. They decided they wanted to start a chapter here because there is a “lack of space to talk about these issues in a student-run organization. We want it to be safe and all-exclusive, and to not alienate anyone,” Dooling said.
“Anyone who identifies as anything is welcome to our meetings,” said Co-founder and Public Relations Coordinator Jess Wojenski.
The women’s studies program here at the UNH seems to be a common ground for the four founders. Each of them has taken the entry-level course and was interested right away.
After taking this course, all agree it just “clicked” for them.
It was “mind-blowing,” as Wojenski said. “I just felt like it explained so much about the world that I just didn’t understand. I also didn’t really know what I wanted to do as a freshman, but now I would like to work in media hopefully changing the way gender is represented. It has given me the words to describe how I feel.”
“My parents divorced when I was really young, and I lived with my mom, who was a strong, independent woman,” Dooling said. “Getting to talk about these bigger issues is empowering.”
This group is looking to inform and give women and men a safe, open environment to discuss topics of their choice. Feminism is a controversial topic. Therefore, this group will likely schedule events to protest, and any other events will be open to their group.
Meetings are held every Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building’s room 330. All are welcome to expand their knowledge and learn more about contemporary feminist issues.
“For me, advocacy is a big deal,” Co-founder and Secretary Emily Sorey-Backus said. “Learning how advocacy fit into feminism was life-changing.”
This group also looks to stay connected to other health/wellness groups on campus to make a friendly environment, members said. VOX supports those groups as they support VOX, as well.
Organizations such as the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program, women’s studies and even Health Services have branched out to welcome this new organization. The co-founders believe they’ve had a very positive reception so far.
“I got to see how things affected my life in a different perspective, and now I see everyday life in a different way,” said Co-founder and Program Coordinator Emily Dickman.
A few years back there was an organization at UNH that tried to complete similar goals and reach out about feminism.
“It was supposedly inclusive, but it wasn’t,” said senior Sam Crosby, a member of VOX. “I’m very happy this group is around now, because it is inclusive and better.”
Asking several students of mixed genders how they felt about a VOX chapter organization on campus shows the reception this group has gotten thus far.
“I have no problem with this organization – great for them,” said senior Smith Simollardes. “As long as it’s not harmful.”