Women’s Day aims for gender equality

Event highlights women’s effort as a call to action


Denis Perez / The Advocate

cody casares / The Advocate HSI STEM Coordinator Kelly Ramos (left) explains a course syllabus to political science major Antonia Phillips (right) during the International Women’s Day event in the Campus Center Plaza on March 8.

By Michael Santone, Associate Editor

On International Women’s Day, Contra Costa College faculty, staff and students brought a call to action to campus with an informative celebration on March 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Scattered tables covered in red tablecloths in the Campus Center Plaza were piled with information focused on the different issues women face.

These tables featured information about the lack of women in STEM-related fields, how students should write letters to Congress, and social equity and justice.

With music from Beyoncé swirling through the warm breeze and echoing throughout the plaza, attendees were attired in vibrant shades of red in support of women’s rights as they mingled under the sun.

The array of topics opened up a dialog of solidarity on a historic day, setting a mood that could be felt in the air.

At the Associated Students Union table, Student Life Coordinator Joel Nickelson-Shanks toyed with a button maker, creating buttons with phrases like ‘CCC loves women’ and adorning them with pictures of Rosie The Riveter.

“Today is about how important women are on campus and how much we appreciate them,” he said, “It’s all about uplifting women today.”

As discussions intertwined, littered with concerns for the current political climate, students observed with curiosity as they slowly drifted to and from class.

This sometimes left an almost empty plaza, but the spirit of the celebration held strong.

The lemonade table, inspired by Beyoncé’s album of the same name, seemed to draw the biggest crowds.

HSI STEM Coordinator Kelly Ramos, who was stationed at the table, discussed the importance of adversities spanning generations to students who were enthralled by the detailed memorabilia.

“This is such a great way to connect with students,” Ramos said, “It’s about taking topics that aren’t really brought up and having serious discussions.”

Drinking ice-cold lemonade, students were given a brief history of the Lemonade Syllabus, a collection of works celebrating black womanhood. Students had the opportunity to look through literature mentioned in it.

Middle College High School student Alejandra Gil, who was observing Ramos’ discussion at the lemonade table, had a handful of fliers on different issues.

“I’m a big feminist,” she said, “It’s important to support women’s rights. Especially right now. It’s time to unite.”

Some of the other tables included pop-up tutoring, free snacks like chips and bottled water, and one that showed attendees how to create their own poster.

Campuswide Tutoring Coordinator Brandy Gibson, who organized the event in just six days, prepared the first of two films shown in Fireside Hall.

Gibson said she was tempted to have the day off in solidarity with he spirit of the day, but instead wanted to be with students at CCC.

“The students and faculty need to have their voices heard,” she said. “We are strong and we have a future.”

At 11:30 a.m., the film “Between Allah and Me (& Everyone Else)” began in Fireside Hall, followed by “The Souls of Black Girls” at 12:30 p.m., with only one student settling in to watch.

Syeda Buckhari, who is majoring in political science, said she is interested in the movie because she can relate.

“I am concerned for Muslim women,” she said. “Although I am legal, I can feel for those who are going through this time.”

Buckhari said it’s important to have a day for women. “We should be celebrating the beauty of women.”

One of the more inconspicuous tables, near Fireside Hall, was dedicated to information on bills introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Counseling assistant Mary-Kate Rossi, who was passing out fliers, said the biggest thing is to spread awareness of the pending legislation to students.

Ranging from terminating the Department of Education, repealing the Affordable Care Act, defunding Planned Parenthood and criminalizing abortion, these bills have the potential to create lasting damage to women, health care and the environment, she said.

“It’s about taking action, no matter how small the action is,” Rossi said.

Gibson said the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and faculty wish to create something bigger in the future.