Women’s History Month Speaks for Itself
In describing Women’s History Month efforts at AU, Courtney Brooks lets her events and programs do the talking.
“I feel like the calendar speaks for itself,” she says.
Brooks, program coordinator in AU’s Women’s Resource Center, has packed the month of March with a schedule of visiting speakers, film screenings, fundraisers, and poetry readings to celebrate women of all walks. While in the past various campus groups and offices have recognized the month individually, the campus community has pooled its resources this year to create compelling events. This approach offers a chance to highlight smaller student organizations campaigning for women’s issues.
“There’s a lot of diversity represented, a lot of different student groups that don’t get as much stage time because of the size of their organization,” Brooks explains. “This is the first time that there’s really been a collaborative and coordinated effort for the whole month. Before, a lot of events happened independently.”
Brooks has also crafted a theme to unify the month’s happenings. Under "Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom," the university is hosting an interactive workshop on positive body image with AU alumna and vice president of programs for the Women’s Media Center Jamia Wilson, as well as a visit from internet television star Issa Ray of The Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.
According to Brooks, the theme and its events complement an already engaged dialogue within the AU community on the intersections of identity and women’s rights in today’s society.
“I think these things speak to larger conversations that are happening on campus all the time,” she says, “but it provides a specific space and time to really focus on the topic and devote some intentional time to talk about these issues, bring them to light, and educate people.”
While Women’s History Month represents a time for the campus to spotlight women’s issues, Brooks and the resource center offer year-round support and attention to any number of issues. Among many other roles, Brooks serves as a confidential sexual assault victim advocate while also campaigning for the needs of AU’s female population.
“Anything people need – be it help with a paper, be it services, advocacy, or just to talk about an issue – there isn’t really a cookie cutter service that we provide,” she explains. “Basically, a person comes in, asks for a service, and my job is figure out how to meet them at that point.”
Currently in her first year at AU, Brooks has worked in women’s issues for the past decade. Having coordinated with AU student organizations for this month, she’s sensed something different here in students’ approaches to issues and events, and she’s impressed.
“There’s a lot of passion about the arts and using the arts as a way to talk about issues that are important, relevant, and part of self-expression and individual identity. It’s not something I’ve necessarily seen at other places,” she says. “I think the student population here sees the arts as a way of expression really naturally.”
So, though the events are certainly compelling, it’s Brooks efforts alongside a passionate campus community that make Women’s History Month at AU something that stands out, something that speaks for itself this year.
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