Karin Hanta

Posts by Karin Hanta


2012 Feminists of the Year

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

A time-honored tradition, the awards for Feminists of the Year were given out at the Chellis House end-of-the-year fest on May 12. About 50 people came to celebrate this year’s nominees and winners. The Paradiddles and Vincent Jones ’12 provided musical entertainment and Anna Gallagher ’12 and Dane Verret ’12 performed some of their powerful poetry. Mary Kay Cavazos read from the ‘zine her students had produced for her class, “Voices of Black Women’s Liberation.”

All of the nominees and participants stand out for having used their voice to advocate for their causes, ranging from gender equity to awareness-raising about sexual assault. Professor Maria Hatjigeorgiou, who teaches in Religion and WAGS and also is the faculty co-head of Ross Commons, gave an eloquent, impromptu acceptance speech that her compatriot, the ancient philosopher Socrates, would have been proud of. Responding to the accolades of her nominators about her ability to weave spirituality into gender studies and her advising of students, Maria urged the audience to make use of resources on campus to help them develop their authenticity and speak their minds.

Speaking also on his fellow winner Margo Cramer’s ’12 behalf, student winner Luke Carroll Brown ’13.5 addressed the urgent need to raise consciousness about sexual assault on campus. Since the summer of 2011, when Luke interned at the Addison County Council against Domestic and Sexual Violence and Margo worked at a biology lab at the college, both hatched the idea of asking students to submit personal stories about experiences with sexual assault on and off campus anonymously on a website. On April 23, these stories were read to a full house at McCullough Social Space. As the Middlebury Campus pointed out, this event “gave students a sense of empowerment and the tools to engage with an issue that is often ignored or hidden. Instead of forcing a set narrative or ideology on the audience members, the orchestrators let the anonymous pieces speak for themselves. The power of their stories alone encouraged conversation.”

Tabasum Wolayat ’12 also garnered the 2012 Feminist of the Year Student Award. Since coming to Middlebury, Tabasum co-founded the organization Young Women for Change in her native Afghanistan. This organization has set up a women-only internet café in Kabul. In this safe space, women can gain access to information and also network with each other. With the help of Atwater Dining, Tabasum had prepared a scrumptious Afghan dinner for 120 diners to raise funds for her organization.

International student and scholar advisor Kaye-Lani Laughna has continued 2010 Feminist of the Year Dilanthi Ranaweera’s initiative to teach swimming to female students in an all-female environment. Her nominators also praised her for “keeping an eye to issues of diversity and inclusion on the Orientation planning committee and being a great role model for student workers.” Fellow staff winner JoAnn Brewer, coordinator of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Research, garnered the award for her efforts to advocate for the rights of those who are the most marginalized among us, earning her the name of “Mama Jo” among students.

Also nominated were students Olivia French and Jessie Tibbs-Tacke ’14 for their work as co-presidents of Feminist Action at Middlebury; Emily Pedowitz ’14, co-organizer of “It Happens Here;” Joanna Rothkopf ’12 for her opinion pieces “That Think Down There” in the Middlebury Campus; Harriet Napier ’13 and Emmy Masur ’13 for organizing the MALT trip to the Center for Adolescents in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Lindsey Messmore ’11.5 for directing the play “Low Level Panic;” Daniela Barajas ’14, president of Women of Color; Allison Stanger and Matthew Dickinson from the Political Science Department as well as Cheryl Faraone from the Theater Department and WAGS Program and Sujata Moorti from the WAGS Program. A big thank you to tall the winners and nominees for their efforts and to all their nominators!

March 9: Android Participates in Linguistics Symposium

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Language & Technology: A Linguistics Symposium
Friday, March 9, 12:15-4 p.m., Axinn 229

This symposium showcases the ways that scholars in computer science, mathematics, robotics, and other disciplines are using new technologies to understand, analyze, and replicate human language. For the first time at Middlebury College, an android will be an active participant in a symposium. The brainchild of Dr. Martine Rothblatt, founder of Sirius Satellite Radio, Bina48 interacts with humans through what are called “mindfiles.” Participants will be able to interact with Bina48 in English and rudimentary German.

The symposium itself also is a first in Middlebury history. Established in 2010, the Linguistics Program is an interdisciplinary field that studies language in all its different forms and manifestations around the world, spanning geographical, historical, and sociological divides. It provides a link between the humanities, the social sciences, education and the natural sciences.

In addition to android Bina48 and project manager Bruce Duncan, the symposium will also feature David Kauchak, assistant professor at Middlebury College’s Computer Science Department, who researches Wikipedia to study the relationship between machine learning and natural language processing. Chris Danforth, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Vermont, will talk about his efforts to develop a “hedonometer,” which gauges happiness by analyzing a diverse set of large-scale texts in the blogosphere.

Symposium program for March 9, 2012, Axinn 229.

All events are free and open to the public. A free lunch and afternoon refreshments will be available.

12:15 p.m. Introduction- Aline Germain-Rutherford, Associate Vice President for Language Schools and Graduate Programs, Middlebury College

12:35 p.m. Learning to Simplify English Using Wikipedia, David Kauchak, Computer Science Department, Middlebury College

1:45 p.m. Measuring Happiness: Social Media as a Laboratory, Chris Danforth, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Vermont

3 p.m. Mind Files and Androids: A LifeNaut Project Update, Bruce Duncan (The Terasem Movement Foundation) and Bina48 (android)

Lecture, Workshop Address Gender Violence

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Middlebury does not often hear stories about rape and sexual assault. The subject makes people uncomfortable. Even in the face of statistics that one in three women around the world will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, the subject is easily swept under the carpet. A Center for Disease Control report from December 2011 confirms that sexual violence, rape, stalking, and intimate partner violence in the United States are widespread phenomena. The year-long CDC survey found that in the United States, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 74 men have been raped at some point in their lives. Eighty percent of female victims were first raped before the age of 25, while 28 percent of male victims were raped before the age of 10. The CDC report gives an array of information related to the identities of victims, such as age, race/ethnicity and gender. In addition, the survey also identifies common factors stalkers and rapists share.

Jackson Katz

Jackson Katz

In order to combat this violence epidemic, renowned speaker Jackson Katz, who will be at Middlebury March 12 and 13, often addresses the relationship between masculinity and sexual and domestic violence. Dr. Katz is the creator and co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the first and largest gender violence prevention initiative in college and professional athletics in North America.

With three published books, a blog in the Huffington Post and years of experience lecturing at high schools, colleges, athletic departments, for NFL teams and the United States Marine Corps, Katz is a eminent speaker on the subject. His message is clear: in order to stop rape, sexual violence and intimate partner violence, we must address the fact that men are the primary perpetrators of these crimes. We cannot continue to understand issues such as abuse, assault and rape as “women’s problems.” Men must refuse to tolerate such crimes and critically evaluate the versions of masculinity around them if they want to lower the disturbing rates of sexual violence and stalking in America.

In his book The Macho Paradox, Dr. Katz demands that men stop tolerating those aspects of American culture that perpetuate sexist, violent versions of masculinity. He analyzes Lakers fan reception of Kobe Bryant in the midst of his rape case and identifies elements of latent sexism and pro-violence; he calls out the World Wrestling Federation for portraying violent masculinity and disempowered femininity; he explores Eminem’s widespread popularity with men and women, a popularity that persists despite the fact that Eminem loads his lyrics with threats against women and gay people. Katz showcases the violence and sexism that often parade as masculine ideals and illustrates how these representations of masculinity hurt everyone. The CDC tells us that violent masculinity directly affects 1 in 3 women; however, anyone with a mother, sister, wife, girlfriend or girl friends has also been impacted by gender-based violence. Accepting the idea that Eminem’s music about rape and abuse is simply art, giving Kobe Bryant a standing ovation in the midst of his rape scandal, and cheering on degrading representations of women in the WWF sends a message to the world that male violence, against both women and men, is tolerable and even admirable. Is that the creed we want to embrace as a community and as individuals?

Jackson Katz will be speaking at Middlebury College on March 12 and 13. On Monday, March 12, at 8 p.m., he will give a lecture entitled “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help” at Mead Chapel. Admission is free.

On Tuesday, March 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., he will hold a workshop entitled “Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity” at Dana Auditorium. The workshop is $12 ($20 with lunch) for participants outside of Middlebury College. For Middlebury students, faculty, staff it is free (excluding lunch). To register, contact Melissa Deas at melissa.deas@yahoo.com and let her know any dietary restrictions.

Sponsored by the Addison Council Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and WomenSafe. At Middlebury College: Women’s & Gender Studies Program-Chellis House, Office of the Dean of the College, Athletics Department, Parton Health & Counseling Center, Academic Enrichment Fund. Made possible through a Verizon grant.

Sister-to-Sister Summit for Middle School Girls, November 19

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This year’s “Sister-to-Sister” Summit for Middle School Girls takes place on Saturday, November 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the 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 in 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 Center for Education in Action, Neat Repeats, and the National Bank of Middlebury. “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 contact Karin Hanta at ext. 5937 or khanta@middlebury.edu.

Sister-to-Sister Activities Scheduled

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Middlebury College’s Sister-to-Sister Program is inviting all seventh and eighth grade girls to a “Fun & Games Night” at the Grille on October 7, 7-9 p.m. Now in its eighth year, Middlebury’s Sister-to-Sister Program brings together female college students with middle school girls in a relaxed environment and strives to make a positive difference by giving a voice to the needs and interests of girls.

The “Fun & Games Night” is the warm-up event for our big summit at Middlebury College’s Kirk Alumni Center on Saturday, November 19, from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. with workshops especially designed for girls. They include dancing, cooking, and crafts, and discussion groups about relationships, peer pressure, and body image.

After the summit, we are planning to hold monthly events at the college.
If your daughter, granddaughter, niece, or friend would like to participate, please contact Karin Hanta at 443-5937 or khanta@middlebury.edu.

2011 Feminists of the Year

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

A time-honored tradition, the Feminists of the Year Awards took place during the Women’s and Gender Studies picnic in the Chellis House backyard on May 7, 2011. Once again this year, the jury was spoilt for choice. In the end, Catharine Wright garnered the faculty award; Tiffany Sargent and Peggy Burns the staff award; and Lark Mulligan, Elizabeth King and Vi Ray-Mazumder the student award.

From left, Peggy Burns, Vi Ray-Mazumder, Lark Mulligan, Catharine Wright, Elizabeth King, Tiffany Sargent.

Catharine Wright (Lecturer and Assistant Director of the Writing Program) was hailed for bringing an in-depth and nuanced perspective to Feminism in her “Writing for Social Change” class. One of her nominators wrote that “Catharine critically examines identities as inextricably linked, and talks at length about power and privilege. She has also gone way beyond the hackneyed conception of feminism being about women as a monolithic category, to a deconstruction of feminism that incorporates social justice pedagogy. Catharine is a wonderful resource and a wonderful advocate, both within her office and inside the classroom.  She’s also always willing to learn and develop her own understandings of feminism, which rightfully reminds all of us that that social justice is a dynamic project that we are constantly engaging with.”

Tiffany Sargent and Peggy Burns, Director and Associate Director of the Alliance for Civic Engagement, are normally the ones to give out prizes for civic leadership and public service during the college’s annual award ceremony in May. This time, it was their turn to be honored. One of their nominators noted that “Peggy and Tiffany tirelessly see to it that internships focusing on gender work and its various intersections are given funding. Throughout the years, they have helped students work on such diverse projects as alleviating the trauma of gender violence and empowering women and girls both domestically and abroad. Tiffany and Peggy also seem to run the ACE Office as a feminist collective: non-hierarchical and respecting each others’ opinions, while caring for the common good.”

The topic of working as a feminist collective was also surfaced when the student award-recipients, Elizabeth King, Lark Mulligan, and Vi Ray-Mazumder, were honored. The three of them were instrumental in establishing the People’s Gender Council at Middlebury (PGCOM), a non-institutional, grassroots, social justice-oriented policy change group composed of faculty, staff, and students. Designed to be attentive to gender as an intersectional concept, the PGCOM practices issue-based coalitional politics under a horizontal power structure. Most of the work occurs in smaller subcommittees devoted to issues such as education, affirming health care, and employment discrimination. Lark and Vi were also praised for bringing the discussion of trans issues in conjunction with prison and immigration reform to campus and conducting various workshops on the subject. Elizabeth was also hailed for her efforts in designing an all-gender housing concept for Middlebury College, a significant change to the College’s rooming policy, which enables students to share rooms regardless of their gender. The policy does not yet apply to first-year students, a topic the PGCOM is addressing in a subcommittee.

Together, the Feminists of the Year have invested countless hours into making gender equity a reality. For this, they deserve our wholehearted thanks.

— Karin Hanta
Women’s and Gender Studies
Director, Chellis House

Seeking Nominations for Feminist of the Year

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NOMINATIONS ARE REQUESTED — The Women’s and Gender Studies Program is now accepting “Feminist of the Year” nominations for any person who has made outstanding contributions to improving the status of women and/or fostering gender equity in the Middlebury College community during the past year.

Please nominate one person per “category” — staff, faculty and student — or only in the category where you can comfortably make a choice. Please include a brief nomination paragraph (see below).

The winners will be announced at:

The Chellis House Picnic
Saturday, May 7, 2-4 p.m.

All are cordially invited.

Nominations must be received by 9 a.m. on Monday, May 2!

I’d like to nominate _________________ for student feminist of the year because:

I’d like to nominate __________________ for staff feminist of the year because:

I’d like to nominate __________________ for faculty feminist of the year because: