Author Archives: Karin Hanta

The 2019 Feminist of the Year Awards

Every year on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, the Feminist Resource Center at Chellis House celebrates all the nominees for the Feminist of the Year Award. On May 11, 2019, a large group of Chellis House friends gathered in the backyard to celebrate the strides we made during another successful school year. Integral to making these strides are the many feminist activists and knowledge producers who never tire of investing their intellectual and emotional energy towards making this world a more equitable place. After enjoying delicious treats and the poetry of GSFS major Sam Boudreau ’19, we honored the award winners. Language in Motion Coordinator Kristen Mullins garnered the prize in the staff category. Her nominator noted that “Kristen [had] devoted the past five years to promoting and deepening cultural understanding on this campus, in the local communities through her K-12 outreach, and in Japan through her Japan Summer Service Learning program. For years now she has led community-focused anti-bias response trainings. Students and staff alike have found them tremendously helpful.”

         This year, the committee decided to distinguish two professors in the faculty category. Eliza Garrison, Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture, was lauded for “consistently bringing a feminist lens to her classes in the Art History department. In particular, her class ‘Medieval Bodies’ in fall 2018 analyzed how women and other (literally) marginalized people were treated in medieval art and what the social and political ramifications of these representations were.” In all of her classes, Professor Garrison makes a point “both to assign feminist analyses of works of art and to discuss misogyny and othering in art.” The other professor who won the award was Lana Povitz, Visiting Assistant Professor of History. Her nominator highlighted her ability “to craft socially conscious and relevant syllabi in all of her classes, which require students to engage with the highly political world around them, allowing no one to remain apathetic or ignorant of the issues that dictate our lives. Her assignments allow students to self implicate, explore their own narratives, and counter traditional modes of history that sustain patriarchy.”

         This year, the selection committee decided to distinguish five students with the award although many more had been nominated. Throughout their four-year career at Middlebury, Miranda de Beer ’19 and Mika Morton ’19 often engaged in activism in tandem. By conceiving the “Middlebury 5K: Steps Towards Reproductive Justice” three years ago, they created an event with staying power. The event now draws close to 100 people who learn about reproductive justice through signs on the golf course while running or walking. They expand their knowledge at t-shirt making activities after the event where the event leaders are on site to talk about reproductive justice and hand-out pamphlets. Mika and Miranda also created a template for other students to continue their effort.

         Mika and Miranda often collaborated with Toria Isquith ’19, Grace Vedock ’20 and Rebecca Wishnie ’20. Toria raised awareness about the reproductive dangers associated with the proliferation of crisis pregnancy centers that pose as health care facilities to spread misinformation about pregnancy and abortion. For her senior project with Professor Carly Thomsen, Toria developed the “Bonefish” animation series, which brings to light the realities of abortion access and lived experience for women seeking reproductive healthcare.

In addition to being an activist against sexual violence and helping establish a digital archive for feminist activism at Middlebury, Rebecca Wishnie investigated the power dynamics of the Charles Murray visit throughout the past school year. In the course, “Gender and the Making of Space,” and at the student symposium, she examined how the architecture of McCullough helped to lend an air of legitimacy to Murray’s visit. For the 2018 Student Summer Symposium, Rebecca, together with Professor Sujata Moorti, investigated state-sanctioned violence and state-sanctioned mourning by comparing the film series The Handmaid’s Tale with the Charles Murray visit.

         Over the past three years at Middlebury. Grace Vedock has demonstrated a great passion for combating sexual violence. Tirelessly collaborating with Taite Shomo ’20.5 in the “It Happens Here” speak-out, she also testified before the Vermont State Committee on Education in favor of a bill that supports victims of campus sexual assault in Vermont. Grace also is a strong advocate on behalf of all queer students who were affected by this voices contesting their humanity on this campus.

         Please congratulate all the winners when you see them.

Caption: 2019 Feminists of the Year Toria Isquith ’19, Miranda de Beer ’19, Professor Lana Povitz, Grace Vedock ’20, and Mika Morton ’19. Not pictured: Professor Eliza Garrison, Language in Motion Coordinator Kristen Mullins, and Rebecca Wishnie ’10.

Sister-to-Sister Summit on November 10!

The widely successful “Sister-to-Sister” Program is hosting its fourteenth summit for middle school girls on Saturday, November 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Middlebury College’s Chellis House. “Sister-to-Sister” brings together middle school girls from Bristol, Middlebury and Vergennes with female Middlebury College students. In a one-day summit and monthly follow-up events during the rest of the school year, the students develop activities that encourage girls to try new things outside of the classroom (art, music, dancing, yoga, journaling, etc.). “Sister-to-Sister” also focuses on discussions of such topics as body image, relationships, and identity. A national program originally conceived by the American Association of University Women, “Sister-to-Sister” works to develop strategies that support girls. The program recognizes that in addition to teachers and textbooks, achievement is affected by what happens in the hallways, between classes, and even outside of school.  “Sister-to-Sister” strives to make a positive difference by giving a voice to the needs and interests of middle school girls. The program provides a “safe space” to talk about the challenges that girls face in this day and age. It enables girls to develop friendships with other girls, even if they don’t go to the same school. The program is supported by roughly 100 volunteers and financial sponsors such as Chellis House, Middlebury College’s Community Engagement Center, and private donors. “Sister-to-Sister allowed me to get involved in the Middlebury community by connecting me with fellow students, faculty and staff members, volunteers and most importantly, middle school girls,” says Grace Giles, a Middlebury College graduate, who was involved with the program for three years. “Every generation represented in our sisterhood is experiencing the environment we live in through a different lens. When we communicate our perspectives, our lives become so much richer.”

All events are free. Sister-to-Sister provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Please let us know of any food allergies. To register, please call Karin Hanta at 443-5937 or email khanta@middlebury.edu.

Sister-to-Sister Gal-o-ween on October 27

Middlebury College’s Sister-to-Sister program invites all middle school girls for a “Gal-o-ween” on Saturday, October 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Chellis House. We’ll decorate Halloween treats, make masks, and write our own ghost stories.

Please also mark your calendars for our annual summit on Saturday, November 10 from 9 to 4 p.m., which features various workshops (dance, yoga, STEAM science projects) and discussion groups.

Both events are free and include snacks (October 27) and breakfast and lunch (November 10)! To sign up, contact Karin Hanta at 443-5937 or khanta@middlebury.edu

DACA Panel on Tues, 2/20, 4:30 p.m., Wilson Hall

Please join us for panel on immigration and DACA in our current political climate with Viveka Ray-Mazumder ’11, Manager of Youth Organizing at Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Susana Muñoz, Assistant Professor at the School of Education at Colorado State University; and Tom Wong, Associate Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego at 4:30 in Wilson Hall. If you would like to continue the conversation with these expert, please join us for an Atwater Thai dinner immediately following the event at 6 p.m. If you are a student, please reply to CCSRE@middlebury.edu and indicate your ID number. If you are a staff or faculty member, simply send an email with your name.

Sister-to-Sister Summit on November 11

The widely successful “Sister-to-Sister” Program is hosting its thirteenth summit for middle school girls on Saturday, November 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Middlebury College’s Kirk Alumni Center. “Sister-to-Sister” brings together middle school girls from Bristol, Middlebury and Vergennes with female Middlebury College students. In a one-day summit and monthly follow-up events during the rest of the school year, the students develop activities that encourage girls to try new things outside of the classroom (art, music, dancing, yoga, journaling, etc.). “Sister-to-Sister” also focuses on discussions of such topics as body image, relationships, and identity. A national program originally conceived by the American Association of University Women, “Sister-to-Sister” works to develop strategies that support girls. The program recognizes that in addition to teachers and textbooks, achievement is affected by what happens in the hallways, between classes, and even outside of school.  “Sister-to-Sister” strives to make a positive difference by giving a voice to the needs and interests of middle school girls. The program provides a “safe space” to talk about the challenges that girls face in this day and age. It enables girls to develop friendships with other girls, even if they don’t go to the same school. The program is supported by roughly 100 volunteers and financial sponsors such as Chellis House (Middlebury College’s Women’s Resource Center), Middlebury College’s Community Engagement Center, and private donors. “Sister-to-Sister allowed me to get involved in the Middlebury community by connecting me with fellow students, faculty and staff members, volunteers and most importantly, middle school girls,” says Grace Giles, a Middlebury College graduate, who was involved with the program for three years. “Every generation represented in our sisterhood is experiencing the environment we live in through a different lens. When we communicate our perspectives, our lives become so much richer.”

All events are free. To register or organize transportation, please call Karin Hanta at 443-5937 or email khanta@middlebury.edu.

The 2017 Feminist of the Year Awards

 

From left to right: Feminists of the Year Carly Thomsen, Morgan Grady-Benson ’18, Sarah Karerat ’18, Jingyi Wu ’17, Katie Preston ’17, Katrina Spencer

On May 13, 2017, the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies Program and Chellis House, the Women’s Resource Center, celebrated all the nominees for the Feminist of the Year Award. Nominees and celebrants were able to gather in the backyard of Chellis House as the sun was shining before the big rain hit the area for the weekend. This year, close to 50 students, staff, and faculty members were nominated. After a poetry performance by Tabitha Mueller and Matthew Blake, the awards were handed out. Carly Thomsen was distinguished as the faculty Feminist of the Year. A first-year tenure-track member of the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies Program, Professor Thomsen was especially commended for making her courses sites of feminist praxis by requiring her students to do engaged research projects. Students staged a 5K run to raise awareness about reproductive rights, for example and critically examined feminist science in a public forum. Carly Thomsen also served as the advisor to the Queer Studies Academic Interest House and helped make it a more active and engaged space on campus.

Katrina Spencer was distinguished in the staff category. Even though she only joined the library staff as recently as February, Katrina has already made an impact on this campus. She organized the Blowtorch Reading Series in which community members get together once a month to read aloud from the most important texts of our times that address human rights and responsibilities. For this purpose, she has also arranged constantly rejuvenating displays in the library that feature important works for Women’s History Month, for example. She also has made the library more visible in social media during the “Teachable Tuesdays” series on Facebook, reading two minute quotes with students and her colleagues from thought-provoking books.

Five students garnered the prize this year. Morgan Grady-Benson ’18 was distinguished for her work for “Stares & Stairs,” a performance art group that draws attention to sexual assault and misogyny at parties at Middlebury.

Sarah Karerat ’18 was honored for her work with the Vagina Monologues, which she directed, produced and acted in this year. A leading organizer of JusTalks, she also volunteers and serves on the board of WomenSafe.

Sandra Luo ’18 was honored for her work as co-president of Women of Color, which she turned into a welcoming and thought-provoking space for students to come together. Sandra also was the prime force behind organizing a series of events to raise awareness and funds for Standing Rock, thus bringing together gender activism and environmental justice.

Katie Preston ’17 was honored for her many years of service of raising awareness about sexual violence. A member of the Sexual Assault Oversight Committee in her first two years, she has also been a driving force behind It Happens Here, a national speak-out platform against sexual violence.

Another leading member of It Happens Here as well, Jingyi Wu ’17 was also honored for her feminist work. Jingyi has been a vocal about feminist issues over the past four years, appearing in various productions of the Vagina Monologues and shining a light on feminism in China. This year, she brought to campus Lu Pin, the founder of “Feminist Voices,” the leading feminist publication in China.

All of the winners and the nominees gave attendees of the celebration great hope that our future will continue to be just and equitable.