Empowering voices echoed across West Campus during the City College “International Women’s Day: A Day Without Women!” event.
The event began at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March, 8, on the West Campus Lawn. Students, faculty, and staff gathered together dressed in red to support the international holiday. A microphone and sound system were available to anybody who wanted to publicly speak.
English Professor Melissa Menendez organized the event, which was approved on Monday. Her 9-year-old daughter served as proof that younger generations are becoming aware of human rights; she drew many signs decorating the lawn that read liberating phrases such as “reproductive freedom.”
“I organized this event so that those of us who could be present can come together in support of equity, justice, and human rights for all,” Menendez said.
Over 30 people preached self composed speeches, poems, and passages from influential speeches and books. Female rights and reproductive rights were the hot topics of the event. Although the holiday is intended to appreciate women; the speakers shined light on immigrant rights, disability rights, and LGBTQIA rights too.
Dr. Heather Rose, a biology instructor, spoke of the roles of women in science and proposed action items to listeners. She encouraged other faculty members to “check themselves” and emphasize their female students’ strengths and intelligences.
Rose also encouraged female students in the audience to be their own self advocates and make sure their voices as women are heard.
The City College Women In Science and Engineering Club (WISE) attended the event in support of the science departments. Kayla Schwind, biology major and WISE Club member, enjoys seeing her department actively working towards movement. She looks up to Rose because of her impressive research, PHD, and their shared love of rock climbing.
“It’s important to have these role models in our lives,” Schwind said. “They’re not letting their sex determine their power.”
History Professor Danielle Swiontek has never had public speaking experience outside of the classroom until four recent experiences in response to the Trump administration, this event being one of them. Swiontek spoke at the event about reproductive rights and the way access to these rights are being significantly eroded. She feels these speaking experiences have helped her find her “inner self-activist.”
“I’d like to give a shout-out to all the people who showed up today and especially all the female faculty members,” Swiontek said. “My [female] friends and students inspire me on a daily basis.”
The turn-out and production of this event allowed the City College community to lift each other up on multiple levels.
“It’s important to empower women and unite those who care enough to recognize how swiftly our human rights can be taken for granted,” said Austin Hale, one of many male students present.