Student Initiatives

The Feminist Community (FemCom)

The Feminist Community (FemCom) is a feminist activist group composed of diverse students who are passionate about not only gender equality, but also the intersecting "-isms" associated with feminism. Our work and discussions thus include areas such as sexuality and sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic differences, ability, etc. We strive to create a safe space for individuals to join in the conversation. Our current activist agenda includes destigmatizing the word "feminism" on campus and building a greater inclusive, loving, equal community—in part by building coalitions with other justice-oriented groups on campus and campus services. Our meetings are flexible in terms of attendance, and we use them for both discussion and event-planning.

For more information, please contact one of the following co-leaders:


Clothesline Project 

The annual Clothesline Project is an international advocacy movement that allows participants to creatively express their feelings about power-based violence by decorating shirts with phrases of their own choosing and colors that symbolize different types of violence.


TBTN 

Our annual Take Back the Night event includes an activist rally and march.  TBTN spreads awareness of and speaks out against sexual violence.  The simple idea behind the event's name is that people, but especially women, should be able to walk alone at night without fearing victimization.  While the original name holds, FemCom aims our sights on Taking Back the Culture.  TBTN marches are an international initiative and often held at colleges and universities.


Goodbye To All That - St. Thomas

The following declaration is called “Goodbye to All That – St. Thomas.”  The Feminist Community (FemCom) and other campus contributors have developed this collaborative campaign using the framework of Robin Morgan’s iconic essays in response to negative cultural phenomena manifested within the UST community.  Our ultimate goal is change—a cultural shift within St. Thomas.  At its core, "Goodbye" is meant to highlight daily mistakes made by everyone and encourage a more inclusive community by reminding everyone we can and should work to do better.  And to that effort, we're saying "Hello".

Goodbye to believing freedom of speech negates accountability.

We’re not being edgy when we make racist, homophobic, ableist, sexist, or body-shaming jokes. When it comes to hate language, impact trumps intent. Words rooted in hate or "humor" hurt. We are responsible for the way our words affect other people, even if we "didn’t mean it like that." We can’t un-ring that bell.

Things are silly, frustrating, unfair, annoying, or uncomfortable—NOT retarded, NOT gay, and NOT lame. Slut is not synonymous with woman, and woman is not an insult. Racial slurs perpetuate historical trauma. Our separation from someone’s situation does not give us license to ignore the effect of verbal violence. Impact trumps intent.

The sexual path one chooses is never a walk of shame. "Slut-shaming" promotes sexual double-standards that label women sluts and men studs. And, "Make me a sandwich"? This might be the most unoriginal, gender-stereotyping "joke" around. It therefore begs the question, "Are you incapable of putting the fixings on two pieces of bread?"

Be careful about assumptions directed toward people of color. “You speak English well” and “Where are you from? No, where are you really from?" are not polite conversation, but micro-aggressions.  Impact trumps intent.

"I’ll pray for you." Although this offering may be well-intended, it can also serve to imply deviance of the prayer’s subject and moral superiority of the person praying. So when a friend trusts us enough to come out with his or her sexual orientation, we must think twice before saying those four words.

Goodbye to thinking your voice isn’t loud enough.

Don’t fall to the bystander effect. As we ride the inter-campus shuttle or chat with our friends in The View, odds are there’s someone in earshot who is a survivor of violence. So when a friend or a stranger makes that rape joke, speaking up makes you someone’s hero. Silence favors the oppressor.

Goodbye to ever thinking anyone was “asking for it.”

She is a woman, not a body. She is not a conquest for the bro culture. She has agency. Consent is a sober, verbal, continuous, and enthusiastic “yes.”

She is a woman, not a body. When she chooses to use the AARC’s facilities, ogling threatens her right to feel safe and secure. Feeling like prey should not be the opportunity cost of maintaining her fitness.

She is a woman, not a body. Her choice to wear a V-neck or yoga pants is not an invitation for sexual commentary and advances.

Goodbye to thinking appearance defines character.

Whether or not you wear a North Face jacket or hijab or snapback or flannel or Ugg boots is your choice and doesn’t determine your character. Similarly, having tattoos, makeup, piercings, or colored hair does not imply incompetence. Community-building opportunities should not be lost or won solely based on appearance.

The body you are given is beautiful! The body ideal is a media myth. The texture of your hair, the pigment of your skin, the size or shape of your body is not a basis for shame or self-absorption. Our natural physical differences should not be a divisive force.

Goodbye to neglecting mental wellness.

We often lose ourselves in our obligations. Take a few minutes for yourself—practice yoga or meditation, throw a ball around, or do whatever brings you personal peace.

And when those things aren’t enough, no one should feel ashamed in seeking someone to talk to. You’d go to a doctor if your shoulder hurts, so why not see a therapist when your heart or mind needs support? We have free Counseling and Psychological Services on campus. Don’t be afraid to use them.

Goodbye to taking our educational opportunities for granted.

Engage yourself! Let’s be more than bodies occupying desks. St. Thomas is not a place to pursue a “Mrs.” degree or just fulfill our parents’ wishes, but a space for shared learning through our liberal arts foundation. And education doesn’t end when we leave the classroom. Don’t be afraid to have tough conversations; don’t be afraid to question norms. Open yourself to the diversity found within the St. Thomas community through classroom experiences, campus events and activities, and personal encounters. We are all students and we are all teachers. When we engage in constructive dialogue, we create a better world together.

. . . And it’s time for us to say, “hello.”

Hello to acknowledging and questioning the quick assumptions we make about each other every day. Hello to recognizing the inherent dignity of every person. Hello to fulfilling our mission statement—our shared goals—to “think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.”

Clothesline Portrait

The Clothesline Project, 2013 (photo provided by Emily Mitchell, FemCom Member)