Inspired by a UPenn group, a coalition for strong women is emerging at Temple.
During winter break, senior women’s studies major Kate Moriarty founded Strong Women at Temple, a new student coalition for female leaders on campus, which had its first meeting Monday, Feb. 8.
Moriarty was inspired to start SWAT after she discovered a similar coalition on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, Strong Women at Penn.
“I saw that Penn had a coalition of female leaders and thought, ‘Why doesn’t Temple have one?’” Moriarty said.
She found that among the organization’s planned events for the semester was Take Back the Night, the annual international initiative that protests rape and sexual violence.
“I was taken back because they have a whole group putting together Take Back the Night, and [at Temple,] it’s me with my internship at the HEART Office putting it on,” she said.
Moriarty drafted an idea of what SWAT would look like at Temple and e-mailed Program Coordinator in Student Activities Maureen Fisher at the start of winter break to arrange a meeting so the two could discuss the group’s creation. Moriarty said Fisher responded immediately.
“I thought it was a great idea, and I love any idea that brings people together from all over,” Fisher said, adding that she and other Student Activities staff members are going to help the coalition out in any way they can.
Fisher said the coalition’s activities, support and whether or not it goes to student organization status is dependent on what people on campus want.
Moriarty said of the 258 registered student organizations she found at Temple, she tried to find groups that were either interested in empowering women or had women’s empowerment in their mission statement.
Chelsie Headley, a freshman social work major, leads Pride in Social Work, the new organization on campus that advocates for the rights of the LGBT community members in the field of social work. She said she joined the group and attended the first meeting because she’s dedicated to social activism.
“I think it is the job of every person to educate themselves and act on behalf of the discriminated and those less fortunate,” Headley said.
Zoe Goldberg, a junior religion major, does public relations for the new LGBT organization, Purple Circle.
“It’s important to start getting the message out,” Goldberg said, “and to let other female leaders know there’s a place for [female] leaders to see what we can do, see the importance of our positions and how we can work together and appreciate our differences as well.”
Rowena Lair, senior education major and president of the Student Peace Alliance, also said it was important to have a space for female leaders to talk about topics like campus inequalities and positive things women have done at Temple.
“[Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance] is great, but I wanted to see what [SWAT] would do differently,” Lair said. “It’s more Temple-focused, whereas FMLA is more of a universal feminist group.”
Lair said people sometimes confuse her position with that of the male vice president and approach him more often than her. She said the problem is universal – that male opinions are sometimes given more weight.
Moriarty stressed that this is not a partisan group.
“We need to celebrate the things all women are doing, regardless of whether or not we ascribe to their mission,” she said.
Moriarty plans to have SWAT address all these issues.
“It felt really great to hear a lot of women say things I think about all the time,” Moriarty said of the group’s first meeting, which had 13 women leaders in attendance.
“I didn’t want these conversations to stay quiet,” she said.
Josh Fernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.