January 14, 2020

BLOG: Reflection by HoyasForShe Fellow Lily Westover

Feature Series: HoyasForShe Reflections

I spent this past semester working under the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) Department as a part of the HoyasForShe Fellowship. When I arrived back to campus in the fall, I was searching for work study jobs that somewhat catered to my interests in gender studies and social justice, making the HoyasForShe Fellowship the perfect opportunity to capitalize on furthering those interests.

Students taking the #HoyasForShe pledge
Students taking the #HoyasForShe pledge

Entering the fellowship, I was unsure of what to expect. Past fellowship projects differed greatly, with varying levels of involvement both on and off-campus. In my interview for the fellowship with the head of the WGST Department, You-Me Park, I mentioned looking at issues like reproductive justice, women in politics, and mental health on college campuses. Although I was eager to dive into all three, I knew that one semester would not be enough to fully examine each one.

Keeping in line with the goal of both HoyasForShe and the overall HeForShe global campaign, my co-fellow Mariah and I decided to base our semester’s project on spreading awareness of gender equity in the Georgetown community while examining how it exists on campus and how it can improve. To do so, we created a photo campaign and used the benefits of social media to reach all kinds of audiences. We then tabled in Red Square on a Thursday afternoon with fliers that gave people the opportunity to write down a #HoyasForShe pledge as a way of promising to put gender equity into action in the Georgetown Community. The physical act of writing down pledges, posing for photos, and even signing up to pledge for the HeForShe United Nations campaign itself was a great way to put the mission of HoyasForShe into action. 

In addition to the photo campaign, we wanted to do something to address the stress culture at Georgetown as it relates to student mental health. We decided to host an open mic night at the end of the semester to both create a dialogue on mental health as it relates to gender and destress before finals. Students came together in a casual setting and had a chance to listen to poems, spoken word pieces, and projects while also enjoying hot chocolate and cookies. There were poems about relationships and even the sharing of a project on the Campus Climate Survey that Georgetown conducted last spring. It was a great chance for people to voice and share their thoughts on personal experiences and happenings on the Georgetown campus.

This past semester was an opportunity to broadly examine how Georgetown addresses gender issues and to test out ways of involving the student body in initiatives to spread gender equity. As I enter my second semester with the fellowship, I hope to dive deeper into the role that gender plays on campus and engage the community to create a more inclusive environment by involving other student groups related to social justice with HoyasForShe initiatives.

This post was prepared by Lily Westover (C'22) as part of the HoyasForShe Student Fellowship.