– Pink Floyd, ‘Hey You’
I’ve said this before in other posts I’ve written about college, but I believe it still holds true: living on campus can often feel like living in a bubble. Our primary concerns include studying for exams, completing homework assignments, writing essays, and working some sort of job; often times, we get lost in this fairly comfortable world of academia, forgetting that there is a whole entire world outside of our physical and mental borders.
If I’m being completely honest here, I find myself in this bubble quite a bit. That being said, I am usually not the first to participate current events discussions involving the state of foreign affairs or government transactions, being that I don’t feel educated enough to voice my opinion without sounding ignorant.
But that shouldn’t be an issue; most, if not all, of us have some type of smartphone or device that allows us to be instantly connected to the world at large with the touch of a button or the tap of a screen. The wealth of knowledge we have at our fingertips tends to remain underutilized while we instead retreat to the realms of social media.
This all became glaringly obvious at the semester’s first Women’s Leadership Initiative meeting, which focused primarily around our understanding of social issues and stories found in the news. I felt ashamed in myself for not being aware about more issues affecting our country, since these are issues that, in one way or another, will someday affect me. Heck, that day could be today – and I really wouldn’t know it.
The board of members who run WLI, a healthy mix of students and professors, were inspiringly well-informed about society’s plights and weren’t afraid to speak up about their opinions on them, knowing they could back up their thoughts with facts and figures.
Seeing the strength of these young women and hearing their unwavering voices ring through the room was encouraging, to say the least. We as women, although we’ve come so far in our fight for equality, are still less likely to express our opinions than men. Whether this comes from a lack of understanding of social issues, a fear of discrimination, insufficient belief in ourselves, or the long-term effects of ingrained societal male chauvinism is uncertain.
But what that means is we still have a great deal of work to do in expressing eloquently our ideas and concerns, and that begins with being knowledgeable about ideas in the news and concerns of the nation and of the world. Add to that a dose of steadfast self-assurance and assertiveness, and you have the recipe for a force to be reckoned with – a force that could change the world for the better; one that could change laws, could change lives.
And that force could very well be you.
The Women’s Leadership Initiative’s mission statement says:
WLI encourages and empowers female students to be leaders wherever they may find themselves, and supports that goal with events, speakers, educational experiences, conferences and programs, and skills-based workshops. The initiative identifies and mentors female students of promise, equipping them with the skills and resources needed to be more effective leaders on campus and beyond.
Regardless of your gender, if you are someone who strives to support women in their struggle for equality, who aims to make strides in redesigning the structure of society, WLI is for you – and with you. This group will support you while shaping you into a more conscientious and confident individual. You will not only become a qualified leader, but also a more active member of the SJU community and the global community.
Although I’ve only been to one meeting thus far (WLI meets once a month; be sure to attend the next meeting on October 14 at 6:30 PM in Villiger!) I can already clearly see that the Women’s Leadership Initiative is an extremely important asset to our campus. I urge you to read up on your current events, take note of the world around you, and share your thoughts with your fellow young leaders as part of this significant initiative.