Sunday marked the beginning of Women’s History month, and with that, student organizations on campus have a host of events and initiatives running throughout March to support and honor women who are students at UConn. To kick off the month was the Womxn’s Health and Empowerment Fair in the Student Union Ballroom last night, hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). At the fair, attendees could peruse the resources and information from groups on- and off-campus organizations about physical, sex and mental health services, as well as sustainability and groups focused on supporting women-identifying students.
“[Michelle and I] saw the need for an event that was centered around the empowerment of womxn at UConn and we thought a fair showcasing all the resources for womxn on campus would be a great idea,” Alexis Jones, a fourth-semester allied health sciences major, said. She serves as Co-Vice Chair of USG’s Student Services Committee, and spearheaded the event with Michelle Smoot, a sixth-semester human development and family studies major. “This was an experience that we never thought was something that we could ever achieve and to have this sort of turnout for our very first event was amazing!”
One of the biggest draw for students were giveaways of menstrual cups from OrganiCup, a Danish company that seeks to make sustainable period products.
“Although giving away free menstrual products, pads and tampons, is important to us, we also recognize the environmental impact those products have over a person’s lifetime,” Jacqueline Seras, a fourth-semester finance major, said. She serves as the leader of USG’s Tampon Time Task Force, which has worked on providing free pads and tampons on bathrooms throughout campus. “Partnering with OrganiCup, this has been a really cool experience in bringing sustainability to every part of an undergraduate’s life and a menstrual cup is just one possible way to do that.”
Even though the event had just started, a long line snaked outside the door to the ballroom in wait to receive a free menstrual cup. Students could choose between a regular or mini size, presented in a sustainable cardboard container and cloth bag and were sent instructions on how to care for and use the cup.
“So this pilot program is part of Campus Cup, which is OrganiCup’s commitment to make menstrual cups more commonplace in universities and more known to students,” Seras said. The cup was promoted to be able to replace two years of period products, or 528 tampons.
The Office of Sustainability also worked with OrganiCup to bring them to campus and were tabling at the fair.
“We’re here talking about menstrual waste and the costs associated with buying menstrual products,” Emma MacDonald, a sixth-semester natural resources major and intern at the Office of Sustainability, said. Their table included an activity that had students guess how much each product is worth “to show the most sustainable options are also the most cost-effective and much cheaper.”
Scholars from the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network shared how the program supports leadership projects for women.
“[You can pursue] your own independent project in relation to what it means to be a woman in our society today,” Simran Sehgal, a sixth-semester biomedical engineering major and BOLD Scholar, said. “I’m here to motivate and spread the word that this is a program that other women or women-identifying students can apply for.”
Revolution Against Rape, which is known for leading the March to End Victim Blaming in the fall, was also present at the fair.
“We’re a club trying to raise awareness on campus about sexual assault and rape culture,” Skyler Trice, an eighth-semester human development and family studies major, and Mira Kale, a sixth-semester ecology and evolutionary biology double major, said. “We do meetings on a lot of different topics, so there’s something for everyone.”
Sabrina Baez, founder and current secretary of Distinguished and Motivated Academic Scholars (DAMAS), discussed the importance of supporting women leaders.
“[DAMAS] was founded by a group of women with intersectional identities to create a brave space where anyone from a diverse background … can come together to motivate each other and empower each other to reach holistic success,” Baez, a sixth-semester Latino and Latin American studies major, said. She also expressed that those wishing to be allies can also join the group, which is hosting different events based on monthly themes such as mental health, women’s empowerment, racism and community. “So what that means is not just academic success, but physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing and just being able to feel empowered enough to be successful in any setting.”
Other attending organizations included female police officers from the Division of Public Safety, Women in Business, Mansfield OBGYN, Student Health and Wellness, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Rainbow Center. The Women’s Center was also sharing information about their different initiatives, groups and resources available to students, like the Body Project.
Hollie Lao is a staff writer and the social media manager for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.