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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC Feminist club attracts change, commits to equality

Charlotte Knegt
After finishing an afternoon meeting, The Feminist Majority Club gathers on Friday, April 25, in Room 218 of the Interdisciplinary Center on West Campus. Danielle Swiontek (bottom right), advisor of The Feminist Majority Club, aims to be an active part of the community and strives for equality and fairness for both men and women.

Every semester, History Professor Danielle Swiontek asks her History of American Women class how many consider themselves feminists–a few raise their hand.

Then, she asks how many students believe in equal pay for men and women, if women should be allowed to take a bank loan in their own name or have the same rights to healthcare as men.

Once she starts listing these points, more people tend to agree.

“Surprise! Then you’re a feminist,” Swiontek said.

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She graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree and then attended UCSB where she received her PhD in history before becoming a professor at City College in 2006.

Swiontek is the working mother, chairwoman and professor who sits behind the door with the Rosie the Riveter, “We Can Do It!” poster in the history department on West Campus.

During the Spring 2014 Semester, Swiontek became the faculty adviser for a new club on campus called the SBCC Feminist Club.

Gianna Iavarone, 19, psychology major and club vice president, became interested in feminism while taking Swiontek’s class last fall.

“There is a need for a third wave of feminism and we need to be that wave,” Iavarone said.

Swiontek said that instead of the stereotypical man-hating feminists, the club aims to open up a discussion about equality and fairness for both men and women.

“[Feminism] reflects commitment for equality,” Swiontek said.

Feminist and gender scholars argue that the view of male and female stereotypes and their differences are not so much biologically based as they are created and constructed by society.

“The impulse for being able to create this egalitarian society is that if these things are made up, then we can change the meaning,” she said.

During Fall 2013, City College student Alyssa Holguin, now club President, worked on developing a feminist club with Swiontek’s help.

“It really is a student driven club,” Swiontek said.

Iavarone later joined and together they made the list of approved clubs at City College as the Feminist Majority Club in spring 2014.

“[The club] is very discussion based,” Iavarone said.

The club is open to everyone and members hope to open a discussion between men and women on campus to see where people stand in our generation, according to Iavarone.

Along with discussions, the club aims to be active in the community.

City College Feminist Club members joined in a walk organized by UCSB in Isla Vista in the aftermath of the two alleged rapes that occurred during February. Both men and women held candles, signs and spoke up about women’s right to walk safely at night.

Along with the walk through I.V., the club has attended other local events.

On March 7, club members attended the annual Presidents Circle Luncheon, hosted by the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee.

During the luncheon, Dr. Kate Karpilow, executive director of the California Center for Research on Women and Families at the Public Health Institute, spoke about how to rebuild the women’s movement in California.

“It ended up to be this perfect conversation for us to be there,” Swiontek said.

Congresswoman Lois Capps and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson were also present, along with several other successful women.

Capps was supportive of the City College club and during the luncheon, other politically successful women offered to come talk to the club, Iavarone said.

Along with national and local issues, the club also talks about existing problems on campus that members would like to help improve or change.

The curriculum’s lacking classes aimed towards women’s issues and campus security are two of those issues, Iavarone said.

“I should be able to walk to my car at night and not feel threatened,” she said.

She suggested for the school to post the campus emergency number more frequently and visibly, as well as more lamps, security phones and security guards to appear on campus.

Suggestions and issues are discussed during the club meeting at 1 p.m., every Friday in Business Communication Center Room 228.

Upcoming discussions this semester are birth control and healthcare, the LGBT community and feminism and violence against women. The club plans to invite successful Santa Barbara Women to speak during some of these discussions.

Starting the Fall 2014 Semester the club is planning to have a self-defense session with Kathy O’Connor from the Health Education department.

The meeting and the speeches will be open for all students to attend.

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