The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

‘Celebrating women, empowering all’: Student organizations and Women’s Center honor Women’s History Month

Events in March included lectures, panels, book discussions and film screenings in honor of Women’s History Month.
Abby Hoelscher
The facade of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, as photographed on Jan. 17, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Abby Hoelscher)

The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center and various student organizations held a series of events in celebration of Women’s History Month, including lectures, art exhibits, screenings and service opportunities. The Women’s Center held a kickoff for the month on March 4.

Director of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center Rory Dicker said the organizational team planned this year’s calendar of events with the intent to cater to the entire Vanderbilt community.

“Because we include programs on many topics — everything from sports to science to history — we hope there is something on the calendar for everyone,” Dicker said.

Lectures and seminars

The Women’s Center and Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies hosted Kate Clancy, a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, on March 28 for a discussion of her new book, “Period: The Real Story of Menstruation.”

“Addressing the cultural prevalence of menstrual disgust, stigma and avoidance is important to recognize why menstruation is understudied and often misunderstood,” Clancy said.

At a panel titled “A League of Our Own,” students heard from women in the Nashville Metro Council, including Vice Mayor Angie Henderson and At-Large Council Members Delishia Porterfield, Quin Evans Segall, Olivia Hill and Zulfat Suara. The panel was co-hosted by Women’s Center Ambassadores and Women in Government.

WIG President Aaditi Lele, a senior, said she enjoyed hearing the “camaraderie” and “support” shared by the women on the panel. Lele serves as the Editorial Director for The Hustler.

“I particularly loved hearing each of the women on our panel exhibit the camaraderie and support they share among themselves,” Lele said. “It’s clear that these women got to where they are, winning history at-large races and representing their communities in the biggest halls of power, by supporting and uplifting one another.” 

Additional lectures included a Women in Bioethics panel on March 19, a discussion with Choices Women’s Medical Center CEO Merle Hoffman on March 19 and a Women in STEM Symposium on March 22.

Arts & Community

Throughout the month, the K.C. Potter Center held an exhibit focusing on sapphic relationships. The Women’s Center staged a Feminist Art Exhibit on March 21 showcasing ceramics pieces created by Vanderbilt community members.

Other arts-related events included a screening of “Vincenta,” an Argentinian documentary about abortion rights, on Feb. 29 in Sarratt Cinema, followed by a presentation and Q&A with Spanish Professor Anna Castillo. The Vanderbilt Climbing Club held the No Man’s Land Film Fest on March 22, screening films that highlighted female climbers. On March 27, the Women’s Center, the Carpenter Program, Medical Students for Choice and If/When/How held a screening of the short documentary “Under G-d,” which follows lawsuits that challenged the Dobbs decision, as spearheaded by Jewish organizations. 

The Women’s Center also handed out free women’s history books every Friday during the month. The Inclusive Book Group, a partnership between the Women’s Center, the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, held their final meeting on March 20, during which they discussed Michelle Good’s “Five Little Indians,” a book about five children within the Canadian Indian residential school system. Additionally, in collaboration with the Banned Book Initiative, the Women’s Center held a conversation about Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” 

The Women’s Center and Community Resource Center jointly hosted a period product supply drive all month, as they have done in previous years, culminating in a Period Product Packing Party on March 29. All supplies were distributed to nonprofits and schools in middle Tennessee.

Dicker emphasized the importance of Women’s History Month as a way to recognize female empowerment.

“The Women’s Center’s tagline is ‘Celebrating women, empowering all.’ Women’s History Month gives everyone the chance to think about women and their contributions to society — both in the past and today — and recognize and appreciate that women have accomplished so much,” Dicker said.

 Maria Balhara, a first-year, expressed excitement for upcoming events being hosted by the Women’s Center in April, particularly the Salary Negotiation Workshop and the Banned Books Initiative sessions.

“I think it’s really important to confront and discuss topics people tend to shy away from,” Balhara said. “They also have an event on optimizing your LinkedIn profile, which seems pretty cool.”

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About the Contributors
Sofia El-Shammaa
Sofia El-Shammaa, Staff Writer and Photographer, Data and Graphics Staffer
Sofia El-Shammaa (‘27) is majoring in political science and communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. When they’re not writing or making graphics, you can find them with their cat, Mochi, watching bad movies or reading good books. You can reach them at [email protected].
Abby Hoelscher
Abby Hoelscher, Photography Editor
Abby Hoelscher (‘27) is from St. Louis and is an aspiring elementary teacher currently studying in Peabody College. She previously served as Deputy Photography Director. Outside of writing, she enjoys performing, learning Taylor Swift songs in American Sign Language and trying the seasonal lattes from the campus coffee shops. She can be reached at [email protected].
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