Noel Marie Bumm
Guadalupe Y. Colon
Kayla E. Costello
Katherine Elizabeth Douventzidis
Katherine Marie Fusciardi
Daisy Annabel Heidenreich
Jessica Erin Morrow
Kendra Ellice O’Donnell
Meghan R. Wilcox
Grace Marie Williamson
I have spent much time with many of these students, so to see them honored felt like the perfect way to end the last day of classes. There is so much promise in this list, so much energy and compassion–and also so much commitment to making the world equitable and safe for all. We are in good hands with this group of students going out into the world.
We also honored Grace Hill, who retired in January and has left a giant hug-vacuum on the campus. I didn’t know that Grace was the first to graduate with the Women’s Studies minor, that she did both of her degrees at KU. I knew she is amazing, gentle, and fierce. The baton of the directorship of the Women’s Center and the LGBTQ Center was passed to Christine Price, whom I already see as a partner in this chaos we call activism!
Claire VanEns has been at the helm of WGS and has worked closely with Grace for decades, and when Claire announced she was stepping down from the WGS Minor, I knew I wanted to make sure the mantle was taken up well–and wasn’t sure I could manage such a mantle. Claire took the time to explain the position to me before I would consider applying. She was honest and forthright, as the position’s course release was taken away due to a bad budgetary year (read: Corbett) and has never been reinstated now that the school is solvent again. I could say more about Claire, but I will let the video do that work instead:
I am glad I can fulfill my service to the university in a way that I care so much about and that allows me to interact with students as their mentor and advisor. (I do want that course release back for sanity’s sake, so I will be working on that!) The WGS minor gives students the space to consider issues of justice and equity, and I work hard to teach them that being an ally is much better than thinking one is going to be savior.
As I drove home, I heard a speaker use this quote that I thought summed up all of the work I do to teach intersectional feminism:
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Words used by Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist and educator from Queensland, Australia.
It is important to take the time to celebrate success in the midst of all the hard work we ask our students to do. I joke with my students that my job is to ruin so many of the things they hold dear. They laugh and nod. And at the semester they say everyone should take a class that focuses on gender (so much so that one student is petitioning the university to add a “Gendered Issues” competency to the gen ed requirements. Go, Caroline!). When I do this work, I know I am doing important work. I never find myself wondering: is this worth it? It always is. Always.