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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

IPFW Seniors Will Present on National Conference Panel

Written by: Communicator StaffNovember 11, 2015

Written by Jazlynn Bebout

Two IPFW students will present on panels at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference on Nov. 12-15 to discuss precarity.

The NWSA conference is held annually in Milwaukee, Wis. and each year is given a different focus for discussion.

The current topic, precarity, is the existence of living without predictability. The NWSA website says, “As a concept, precarity draws attention to the lived conditions, structured nature, and relational aspects of systemic inequality.”

Amanda Neumann and Lauren Murfree, IPFW seniors, will speak on a variety of panels. Neumann is majoring in women’s studies and English and Murfree is majoring in anthropology and psychology.

“IPFW was the first school in Indiana to start a Women’s Studies department and we should be extremely proud of that,” said Murfree in an email.

To be chosen to present on the panels, students were required to submit a proposal to the NWSA conference organizers. Murfree said that Neumann had heard about the panel and asked her to join because of her involvement in IPFW Voices of Choice, which Neumann had planned on discussing during her presentation.

The panels cover several topics, including one that discusses student feminist organizations, which is called “Cat Talk: Feminist Strategies for Collegiate Feminist Student Organizations.”

“We’re attending a few panels directed at activism on college campuses so, hopefully, we’ll learn a bunch of cool stuff to share with IPFW students,” Neumann said.

Currently, IPFW has a few different feminist organizations that include IPFW Campus Feminists in in Solidarity, IPFW Voices of Choice and IPFW OUTspoken.

“Feminism tackles issues across the board and does so in an empathetic and collective way,” Neumann said. “University campuses are a great place to begin learning about what issues really matter to individuals and feminist organizations help give students opportunities to combat issues of inequality.”

According to Michelle Kearl, a communication professor at IPFW, the feminist organizations on campus can do more than raise awareness of issues, they can provide a sense of belonging.

“They also provide a sense of solidarity and community in a culture that increasingly asks us to see violence and prejudice as individual; that is, that there are just bad apples or bad people, not systemic injustices that need a community/ cultural response,” Kearl said.

Another feminist resource available on IPFW’S campus is Cat Talk, a magazine created by IPFW Campus Feminists in Solidarity.

According to Neumann, Cat Talk has shaped campus activism since its inception by working with the campus feminist organizations, discussing campus-based issues and influencing the campus-wide understanding of the roles of activists and students.

Murfree said that her first CFS meeting showed her the true meaning of feminism by having an environment that is inclusive, caring and loving.

“This is what sparked my involvement and interest in the topic of feminism and outreach, as many people have the same false perception I once held,” Murfree said.

While women remain the majority of members in the feminist organizations on campus, they are always encouraging new members, specifically men, to join.

“Feminism is all about inclusiveness, and I hope CFS embodies that,” Neumann said.

“When men are interested in supporting women’s equality, they should listen to what it is women say they need from them. In this way, they can make conscious thoughtful contributions to the group or cause for whom they advocate,” Kearl said.

The NWSA conference encourages all genders to attend the event to raise awareness about gender studies topics.

“This is a space where both men and women can invest themselves in the ideas and arguments around women’s and gender studies topics, take risks with ideas and enjoy the process of learning, researching and writing,” Kearl said.