IUS Feminist Alliance inactive but still important


Erin Mann

Founded in the Fall of 2012, the IU Southeast Feminist Alliance, along with it’s goals to educate IU Southeast’s students about women’s issues, is currently inactive.

Due to a lower member count, the alliance was limited as to what they could do on campus, Lyndsey Cooper, communications senior and founder of the alliance said. There was not a lot of interest, either.Alliance timeline-

Cooper has merged the alliance with the IU Southeast College Democrats, where she is vice-president and communications director.

Cooper says that the interest level in the alliance may have been so low because of IU Southeast’s location.

“Most students on campus are coming from heavily conservative areas so that was a huge issue for our organization, as well as the negative connotations that come along with the idea of feminism,” she said.

Census data reports that women have passed men in gaining advanced college degrees as well as bachelor’s degrees, contributing to the redefinition who goes off to work and who stays home with the kids.

“Women began to exceed men in college enrollment in the early 1980s,” Bernadette Jessie, coordinator of the women’s and gender studies program, said.

These findings demonstrate why there are large numbers of women in the workplace, and why there has been a steady decline in stay-at-home mothers.

“Traditionally people think that stay-at-home moms do so because they can afford not to work. Experts seem to suggest, however, that many moms appear to be staying home with their kids because they can’t afford to work,” Jessie said.

According to Jessie, many studies in recent years have shown that less-educated moms are generally more likely to be home with their kids compared to more-educated moms.

In addition, a Gallup analysis of 45,000 adult women found that approximately 75 percent of college-educated women with children under 18 were working, compared with 48 percent of those moms with a high school degree or less.

Megan Staten , elementary education junior and co-founder of the Feminist Alliance ,said that not everyone realizes that men and women are still not treated equally in the workplace.

“It is really important that women and men get involved to help equality,” Staten said. “College students especially need to be active because we will be going into the workforce soon and everyone should be getting paid the same if they do the same quality of work. Unfortunately that is not the case and we need to change that.”

The alliance was founded during the 2012 election season after the Indiana senate debate was held on the IU Southeast campus, where Cooper was an attendee whose question on the subject of abortion was chosen.

“One of my questions regarding abortions was chosen and asked at the debate to which Richard Mourdock in a nutshell said that even if we get raped we, women, should be forced to carry and birth an unwanted child,” Cooper said. “I was sitting in the Ogle center during that debate and words cannot describe how I felt in that moment. I knew something had to be done and it had to be done now.”

Though Cooper was not able to ask the question directly, she is proud to have posed a question that sparked national debate.

“I was in the auditorium during the debate and I remember there being backlash following the event because there was little to no reaction from the crowd when Mourdock made his comments but the truth is it was dead silent in that room. I think most of us were trying to wrap our heads around what had just happened,” she said.

Cooper also said that she felt astonished that people were actually agreeing with Mourdock on the topic.

“I remember looking over to the woman sitting next to me, one of Mourdock’s supporters from the republican party, she was grinning ear to ear while shaking her head in agreement with his comments,” Cooper said. “By then the moment had begun to sink in and I was enraged…I had to fight the urge to throw my hands in the air and storm out.:

It was this anger that sparked Cooper to reorganize the Feminist Alliance on campus.

Cooper said that the feminist alliance had previously been on campus but had ended when the president graduated. Cooper then took it into her own hands to get it up and running again.

“I got out on social media, found former members, contacted professors on campus in women’s and gender studies departments, and eventually had a following going. By the Spring of 2013 we had a good size membership,” she said.

Staten, who helped Cooper re-establish the Feminist Alliance on campus, holds views similar to Cooper when it comes to feminism.

“She told me how she wanted to get the Feminist Alliance up and running again. I had always held feminist ideals, but had recently become more active in stating them and helping with organizations in the community,” she said.

Active in the community, Staten felt as though the alliance would be a good fit for her.

“It sounded like a great way to become more active and spread the word about feminism. I really hoped through helping with the group that we could help more people understand that feminism is still needed because men and women are still not treated equally,” she said.

Eventually, after elections, the alliance didn’t do as well as it had previously.

“Summer took a toll on us, the momentum was lost by fall and our own personal studies or other activities got in the way of our efforts,” Staten said.

That’s when Cooper merged the alliance with the College Democrats on campus, where Cooper is the Vice President under President Megan Staten.

“We decided that given we are in such a highly conservative area and it’s all we can do to gain the movement and keep students active and engaged in either group, it was best that we put all our focus in one place,” she said.

Cooper also said that with elections coming up in the near future, it would be helpful to have the two groups combined. “With the elections coming up in November and so many women’s issues at stake we felt we would be running both groups on the same platforms so rather than working ourselves to death trying to keep both groups afloat, we agreed to put the focus on the one organization,” she said.

With November elections coming up, Cooper said that it is important for students to be involved and informed. “We want to make sure that students really understand the issues and the affects they’ll have on their lives as well as an understanding of how important this election is going to be for everyone, not just women,” she said.

Cooper also stresses the importance of student voice as well as the importance of every single vote in an election as important as the next presidential election. “The public opinion has the biggest influence on everything in this country and if we don’t speak up and make our voices heard then nothing will change. Your vote is your power and by not voting your voice can’t be heard,” she said.

Cooper thinks that it is important now for women to try to get involved and educated about these issues that directly affect them and their lives. One of the main issues in the nearing election is women’s issues, which Cooper said is critically important to fight for.

“Women have come so far in such a short time. It was only 100 years ago that we won the opportunity to vote and people fought so hard and fierce-fully for that chance that if we give in now and let these right wing conservatives that come after us with every chance they get to take away our rights, it’s nothing more than a slap in the face to the women who came before us. I believe they deserve better than that, we all do,” she said.

As for the future of the alliance, Cooper intends to leave it in the hands of the college Democrats when she graduates. “Our primary goal this year is to make the Democratic presence on campus stronger than ever before. We hope to have a really strong membership and influence in the 2014 elections,” she said.

College Democrat meetings are in University Center North room 120 at 5PM on April 3rd and 17th. All events can be found on the group’s website: collegedemocratsius.weebly.com