This post comes from guest writer Erika Howard, Women’s Studies Minor at the University of Rochester, president of the Undergraduate Council for Gender and Women’s Studies, and senior co-chair of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood – UR Chapter. All photos by Deron Berkhof.
In continuing the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Susan B. Anthony Institute, there was a luncheon over Meliora Weekend. For anyone who doesn’t know, Mel Weekend is UR’s Homecoming, Parent’s Weekend, and Alumni Weekend all wrapped into one. It’s exhausting and busy and completely wonderful. This luncheon was a welcome surprise; all the best parts of Mel Weekend – getting to talk to alumni who have amazing life stories and excellent advice, not to mention better food than what’s normally on campus – without the fatigue that comes from trying to fight for a seat at events.
I was on a panel with Maggie Maxwell, ’09 and Carolyn Eisenman, ’84 (the first student to graduate with a degree in gender and women’s studies). We each gave a little speech, but that wasn’t the part of the day that left an impact on me. Yes, it was fun and exciting, not to mention the fact that I got a free SBAI mug (score!); the really amazing parts were the people I talked to and the stories I heard. I got to talk to Terry Platt, a biology professor who, as an English major, I never had the opportunity to meet before. Carolyn Eisenman and I discussed our frustration with some of the recent anti-woman legislation. Numerous alumni told stories about their time at UR, referencing that they were here when most women were still going to college for an MRS degree.
The lunch was fun and relaxed, and really gave off the sense of community that I think is so important to SBAI. Although the classes I’ve taken here have all been amazing, nothing in the curriculum really competes with the people I’ve met and the stories they’ve shared.
There’s no other department, in my mind, that fosters that kind of environment, and it’s one of the many, many things I love about SBAI. This luncheon fit right in with my general expectations of events for the Susan B. Anthony Institute: enjoyable, meaningful, and you leave feeling like it was time very, very well spent.