Feminism n. the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of politics, social, and economic equality to men.
As a young eighth grader, I was already calling myself a feminist, proudly wearing my label with a giant middle finger to society. Regardless of my early beginnings, in college, specifically at a liberal arts college, my feminist ideals and political activism were rooted in the supportive groups, liberal atmosphere, and sisterhood that I discovered as a freshmen student.
The positivity and importance of building a feminist community at a college campus is the inclusion of diversity and the widespread impact that each campus can devise. Many college campuses already have a feminist legacy, where protests and ongoing support are accessible, while others may mobilize by creating new events and social get-togethers that impact their organization and beyond.
Feminist Campus, the world’s largest pro-choice network, is a dedicated organization affiliated with the Feminist Majority Foundation, who visit college campuses in different regions of the country to ensure that there is a feminist presence and lead discussions about current social issues on national and global levels. Feminist Campus has a staff of National Campus Organizers who travel around the country to discuss abortion rights, women’s rights, affirmative action, and LGBTQ concerns.
I talked with Chelsea Yarbrough, a part of the East Coast Campus Team, where she explained her role, the impact of feminism on a college campus, and the steps to starting a group at your college.
Can you talk to us about what your role is at Feminist Campus?
I am the HBCU and Southern National Campus Organizer at Feminist Campus. In my role, I work with college students to support their feminist organizing and activism on campuses across the South and on Historically Black Colleges and University campuses. We work on everything from voter education to environmental protections and everything in between!
What are some of the challenges and rewards that come from traveling to colleges and talking to students?
I love being able to connect with students from across the nation and share skills with them to help them push for the change they want to see on their campus. It’s really rewarding to see new groups form on campuses and grow from a few passionate students putting love and work into the process. It can be challenging to travel so much and so often, but its also what I love most about my job — I’m able to visit so many new places and learn from our students about what goes on in their city, state, and campus.
What are the steps to starting and sustaining a Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance?
I’m glad you asked! You can either start a new Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance or affiliate an existing group! To do both, you can register your group on our website and a campus organizer for your region will be in touch. Once you connect with a campus organizer, we make sure to keep in contact with you as your group grows, provide you with resources and connections, and to visit campus to assist with events!
What are a few of the goals that Feminist Campus hopes to achieve for college youth?
Some goals we have as campus organizers are to continue to grow our student’s groups and to help them sustain their presence on campus, to work in collaboration with our students, and to support their organizing around issues they’re passionate about. We do a great job of these things already, but we constantly strive to be comrades with our students rather than bosses, to be sound boards and consultants for their ideas, as well as providing guidance, tools and opportunities for their success. We’re deeply invested in our students and they are the folks who make our work possible.
The Feminist Majority Foundation and Feminist Campus believe that, “feminists — both women and men, girls and boys — are the majority, but this majority must feel empowered.” 2015 was a big year for the group and 2016 has a lot in store as well — join the movement.