Sophomore Lexy Antoine said she had not thought about a clear-cut definition of feminists before, but she understood some stereotypes surrounding the term.
“It kind of has a negative connotation of, ‘Those girls are crazy feminist. They do crazy things,” she said. “Really, I just think it’s people that are interested in helping women in society.”
Antoine was a participant in the workshop “Where We Have Come From and Where We Are Going: Feminism for 2015” led by professor Sara Lampert. The goal of the workshop was to have students start to think more critically about questions of gender and equality.
Lampert’s workshop was among the four workshops open to the general public at the University of South Dakota’s fourth annual Diversity Symposium. The event — founded by Tiospaye Student Council — featured keynote addresses, research presentations, group discussions and informative speeches highlighting how to make the university community more inclusive of diversity.
“I wanted to try to do two things: make this fun and interactive but also try to employ something called feminist pedagogy,” Lampert said. “It’s this idea that we all come to the classroom with knowledge and expertise.”
The symposium was not focused entirely around the feminist movement. Conversations included race relations, transgender equality and religious tolerance.
This year’s theme of the symposium, “Be The Change,” was adopted from Mahatma Gandhi’s, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
“The organizing theme of ‘Be The Change’ is the most important thing,” Matthew Sayre, assistant professor in the department of anthropology, said. “You can change the world around you. We have obviously seen that in the United States over the last 100 years, and we’ve obviously seen over the last year a lot of violence and worries with other issues.”
The symposium’s keynote speaker was Zach Wahls, who is one of the leading activists for gay rights in the country. Wahls was born to two mothers in Iowa City, Iowa, and co-founded the national campaign to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America.
(Photo: Diversity Symposium attendees discuss the book “My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family” in the Center for Diversity & Community March 26. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)