Q: What was this SlutWalk thing?
A: The March Against Sexual Violence/March Against Victim Blaming was also known as the SlutWalk. This name comes from an international program which originated in Toronto, Ontario. They have occurred throughout the U.S. and in South America, Australia, India, Europe, and the Middle East. One activist, Jessica Valenti, says, “in just a few months, SlutWalks have become the most successful feminist action of the past 20 years.”
Q: What was the point?
A: The point was to object to victim-blaming and point out that no one deserves to be assaulted, no matter what they are wearing, or doing, or where they are, or who they are with, and so on. The word “slut” was used to call attention to the negative language, almost exclusively directed at women, which illustrates a huge double standard regarding sexuality in our culture.
Q: What have been other high points of the year?
A: It’s been a pretty good year for women and diversity on campus. There was a successful production of the Vagina Monologues, three outstanding guest speakers, and a multitude of other programs. We supported the appearance by the Tuskegee Airmen. We’re helping bring a woman helicopter pilot to campus in April, as well as sponsoring the Pocket Change Art Show and the Jessie Hill Memorial Organ Donor Drive. The University is on track to admit a higher percentage of women for next year. The Diversity Luncheon celebrated the Diversity Advisory Board and the Study Abroad initiative. Women faculty dominated the recent awards. We expect several students working with Area 51, the Women’s and Diversity Center, will get student leadership awards. The campus is working to improve the climate for women, which will in turn improve the climate for all students. We even identified the gender-neutral bathrooms on campus!
Q: Hard acts to follow. What’s up for next year?
A: A Fall Air Show and Celebration of Women Performers at OctoberWest!! Women in Aviation will also hold a regional conference in conjunction with the Airshow. We will also produce programs on finding and effectively applying for scholarships. Some students who frequent Area 51 have discussed producing some programming about/for LGBTQ students on campus. If you and your group/friends want to put on an event, Area 51 is the place. That’s how we got the Monologues, the SlutWalk, the Art Show, Just Eat Bugs, Escaping Violent Encounters, the Organ Donor Drive, the Birth Control program, and more. Students have the best ideas!
Q: How would you sum up the year?
A: I think watching the tremendously courageous students (with some staff and faculty) marching through downtown Prescott and speaking out about their horrific experiences with sexual assault demonstrated what our students are made of. It’s difficult for the entire community to face some of the issues that have come up, and by and large the community has responded with wisdom and compassion. Exposure to difference, diversity, and new ideas can be challenging and uncomfortable. It’s the task of Area 51 to bring the world to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Join us!!