Gender Justice Week focuses on issues affecting women and LGBTQ

Annie Bartholomew/ Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 19, 2013

Presenter Traciana Graves poses after her presentation "Don't Call Me a B-" in the Wood Center Ballroom on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Annie Bartholomew/ Sun Star

Presenter Traciana Graves poses after her presentation “Don’t Call Me a B-” in the Wood Center Ballroom on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

Not even a winter storm could bring down Gender Justice Week. The three-day event, sponsored by the UAF Women’s Center, Women’s and Gender Studies and Concert Board, worked to bring awareness to issues affecting gender and equality at UAF campus.

“It happened to be a snowy and icy time, but we managed to pull it together anyway,” Women’s Center Coordinator Kayt Sunwood said after the week’s final event “Don’t Call Me a B-” led by New York activist Traciana Graves in the Wood Center Ballroom.

As a national expert on civility and inclusion, Graves works with colleges across America to improve the workplace cultural environments, campus and school bullying. Through the national campaign, “Say Something Beautiful,” she encourages participants to to find “joy in justice” and to not blame, but acknowledge and speak out against incivility in their daily lives.

“That’s the power of what humanity has, that we have words, and we can use them as powerful weapons of good,” Graves said.  She believes this sustainable approach serves to create safety and inspiration so that people are able to excel and change the force of their lives on campus.

Graves also met with student focus groups to continue initiatives comprised of members of the Happiness Club, Gender & Sexuality Alliance and Angry, Young & Poor. Graves says the voices and stories of UAF students who participated will be featured and published on the website saysomethingbeautiful.com

Psychology student Misty Nickoli brought her three sons ranging in age from middle to high school to the event because she thought it would help them understand the social world and become better leaders and people.

“I do whatever I can to try to empower my sons to understand their worth,” Nickoli said after the event. All three boys participated in the discussion reminding attendees of their own experiences of schoolyard bullying.

The performance presentation lasted more than two hours, with participants staying after to exchange hugs and for further dialog.

Other activities included a film screening of the music documentary “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.” The movie, selected by the UAF Concert Board, told the story of the punk rock band’s activist group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, who were arrested in 2012 after performing in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow.

Anthropology student Kirby Holby writes on a poster during the workshop "Don't Call Me a B-" at the UAF Wood Center on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 as part of Gender Justice Week. Annie Bartholomew/ Sun Star

Anthropology student Kirby Holby writes on a poster during the workshop “Don’t Call Me a B-” at the UAF Wood Center on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 as part of Gender Justice Week. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

The panel “The B-Word Dialogues,” a student-led discussion of the use of the words “bitch” and “pussy” and their role in the modern lexicon, was postponed due to weather. Sunwood says the Women’s Center plans to reschedule, and to stay tuned for the date.

Though snowfall, icy roads and loss of power may have limited participation, Sunwood says that with the initiatives started through Gender Justice Week will help UAF build a stronger and safer campus for everyone.

“It’s not just for women, it’s for all of us,” Sunwood said.

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