Striving to Create a Safe and Inclusive Environment

by Rayanna Riecss

Looking for an empowering feminist presence on campus? The National Organization for Women at UCF might just be the place for you!  By joining, you can help raise awareness about the need for gender equality and the end of all other forms of oppression.  This group practices intersectionality, a term coined by black legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, which acknowledges the intersections of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. in a person’s identity acknowledging that not all experiences are universal. As such, anyone is welcome to attend our meetings and other events. We strive to create a safe and inclusive atmosphere for every man, woman, and nonbinary individual present. At the beginning of our meetings, we all introduce ourselves and our pronouns so that everyone feels comfortable and respected.

For our meetings, we usually present information on a feminist issue and then discuss it with the rest of the group. In the past, we have tackled a broad range of topics from gender and sexuality to representation in the media to imperialism. In Fall 2017, we plan to incorporate service activities that correspond with some our weekly topics so that we stay committed to being activists who do more than just talk. For example, in the past, we have discussed homelessness―specifically how it affects those in the LGBTQ+ and mentally ill communities―and held a period product donation for a local homeless shelter.

If you cannot make our general body meetings or just want to get more involved, you can join one of our committees. Currently, we have committees for tabling, social media, event planning, and legislative change, but we plan to introduce committees devoted to service work and fundraising. Our legislative change committee is working to change the sexual misconduct policy at UCF, and we currently have filed a petition.

Throughout the year, we work on a few major events and projects. This October, we will have our annual Love Your Body Week. For this event, we plan daily body positive activities during tabling in front of the Student Union. In March, we hold a Take Back the Night rally where we stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence and raise awareness about campus sexual assault. Next year, we plan to have a significant presence in the planning of the Multicultural Student Center’s Month of Woman, which takes place during Women’s History Month. Another exciting part of joining NOW is our connection to the Women’s and Gender Studies program. The head of the program, Dr. M.C. Santana, is our faculty advisor, so we often work alongside women’s studies through advertising or volunteering at events. We are also working on holding workshops and panels on specific feminist issues throughout the year.

In addition to our activism, we hold various socials where our members can have fun and interact with fellow feminists. During previous semesters, we have held movie nights and gone out to eat together. This semester, we plan on introducing “zine nights,” where we will work on a mini-magazine to distribute at tabling and through social media. We hope to incorporate a feminist library during these events where members can share empowering media with each other.

Overall, we strive to make NOW a place that demands both change and acceptance. We plan to meet Wednesday nights this upcoming semester, but you can follow us on social media for an official announcement of our first meeting. We are all looking forward to fabulously feminist fall semester!

For More Information Check out our Facebook page: