On Tuesday, the Introduction to Gender Studies class gathered on the second floor of the Smith Student Center for their student poster presentations. The posters focused on the history of the women’s, men’s and LGBTQ movements along with Title IX and sexual assault issues.
The event began four years ago as a requirement for Cindy LaCom’s Introduction to Gender Studies class. The students are given the option to complete an individual in-class presentation or to create their own posters and present them along with handouts that they make to a larger audience.
“I think that people learn differently and this is an incredible opportunity to learn in a different way than students usually get to and to professionalize themselves,” said Director of the Gender Studies Program, Cindy LaCom.
The initial posters four years ago were shown during common hour in a classroom in Spotts World Culture building where LaCom was teaching the class. Since there was very little turnout besides the students themselves, LaCom decided that the presentations were so good and needed to be exposed in a public venue.
Since then, the last three presentations have been held in the Smith Student Center and have received great turnouts ever since.
LaCom said that since it is a public venue, the students must be both visually creative and prepared to talk about the person or issue on which they are presenting. She feels as though it allows them a chance to professionalize themselves and even the ability to add a line to their resume.
“The purpose is multifold; it is to educate the campus community about the history of the women’s, men’s and LGBTQ movements and issues, but it’s also really to educate us about Title IX and sexual assault,” said LaCom.
The students made posters on a wide variety of topics ranging from NFL sexual assaults and consent and sexual assault on college campuses to the reality of rape and social justice activists.
“I think the posters that aren’t people, but big ideologies, like abortion or living in a transphobic world, are the most powerful because these topics have come to light only recently,” said sophomore theatre and psychology major, Alex Sharo.
Sharo completed his poster on social justice activist Angela Davis which he stated was enlightening for him because he was aware of her ideologies, but after researching Davis he realized that he agreed with a plethora of her ideas as well.
LaCom stated that she feels that these presentations are really meant to educate and advocate.
“I heard a number of the students say that they didn’t know who this person was when they signed up to do their poster, and now they really are a convert,” said LaCom.
Sophomore social work major Emily Merhaut said that her favorite presentation was the sexual assault on college campuses poster, because she feels that there is not enough information spread and the topic is not talked about enough.
“I just hope people take away more knowledge on sexual assault and the LGBT movement and the history behind it,” said Merhaut.
LaCom said that in the best case scenario, the event can be empowering and even life-changing because it spreads the message that these are not just women’s issues, but men’s as well because they are also victims of rape and assault.
Sharo said that he hopes people see the posters and leave the event being glad that it exists because there are many ideas in the world and he feels that these notions are very interesting.
“I want them to be a little bit upset and I want them to see the debates, get angry and leave maybe knowing a little bit more and feeling like they can do something about it,” said Sharo,
Both Merhaut and Sharo agreed that attending this event is imperative because it gives people the opportunity who don’t feel interested in taking the class to go and learn about necessary topics.
“If you can walk away and understand what we can do as allies, whether you are white, straight, able-bodied or male, what an opportunity that is to change our campus, said LaCom. “That’s truly what I want to do is make this campus the best place it can be.”