Women’s empowerment: Feminism as a way to elevate all

Rebecca Hart; photo courtesy of Hart

Rebecca Hart, a senior at Western Carolina University and the student body president speaks to the leadership roles that women hold at WCU, the goals of inclusivity and the threats women face on campuses across the nation.

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism is inclusivity. It’s equality. It’s proper representation. It’s women speaking for themselves and being heard. It’s little children growing up seeing the women in their lives represented in the books they read and movies they watch. It’s trans women not having to defend their womanhood. True feminism hurts no one because it elevates us all.

What is a standout accomplishment that student government has achieved during your time as it relates to empowering female students?
The Student Government Association has not passed or pushed for any specific policies concerning solely women. However, I think it is the barriers we continue to break just by being in the room. The Student Government Association is in its 98th session. However, I am only the seventh woman president. And according to our records, our administration might be the first time we’ve had a woman president and vice president at the same time. This year, we had an all-women leadership. Our chancellor, Dr. Kelli R. Brown, is our first woman chancellor. The faculty senate was led by Laura Wright, the staff senate by Deidre Hopkins, and the student government by myself.

What is the biggest issue facing women on campus?

The most prevalent crime that occurs on college campuses is sexual assault. According to a 2007 Campus Sexual Assault survey, 1-in-5 women will be sexually assaulted during their time at college compared to1-in-20 men. I think this speaks a lot about how women are perceived and valued in our society. Everyone has something to contribute, but continually, women are spoken over, passed over for promotions or are held to outdated expectations.


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