With the rise of activist groups on campus, Santa Fe University’s Feminist Collective is taking strides toward equality and aiming to ensure that people from all intersections of life are acknowledged, validated and respected.
This semester, the Feminist Collective leaders say they want to focus on being seen as an unshakable force on campus while addressing issues such as campus security and the inclusion of required texts in classrooms that alienate trans and non-binary people.
They also hope to bring their concerns to Student Voice, a group that helps make student concerns visible to the administration, and collaborate with other activist organizations on campus, as intersectionality is important to them. Multiple members mention that feminism is about equality across different spectrums, and that intersectional feminism is the feminism that they support.
“I mean, talking about the issues is making a change because it’s opening people’s minds and all that, but if we’re not actually getting anything done in our community then what are we here for?” Feminist Collective Vice President Haley Joy Porter states.
Collective President Maria Siino and Porter have noticed that many students on campus either don’t know that the Collective exists, or are apathetic toward its efforts. “We want people know that we’re here and we’re not going anywhere,” Porter says. “People can try to intimidate us and try to make us stop. But honestly, at least for me, that just makes me want to try harder.”
The club’s past events have included Take Back the Week, which was a week full of inclusive and educational art, discussion, and movie screenings around campus. Though Feminist Collective is an activist group that attempts to tackle serious issues and take action, it also values having fun while doing so. Porter enthusiastically describes her favorite activity that the club has done. “My favorite part of that [Take Back the Week] was the Smash The Patriarchy Pinata. I made it totally from scratch, papier–mâché. It was a big, white round piñata that said ‘The Patriarchy’ in big red letters, and we filled it with condoms that we got from Planned Parenthood, and we smashed it on the Quad. And it was so much fun.”
Kei Cypher, a film freshman, is a new addition to the group. Cypher says that they wanted a place to come and refuel in order to continue being an activist. “What I was searching for in this group was a safe space, a place for those of us who are fighting for equality along all lines of oppression: gender, race, sex, class, age, disability and so on.”
At the first meeting of the semester, returning and new members alike sit in a quiet room in Fogelson Library. As everyone makes their introductions and tells the group what they think feminism is, the atmosphere is comfortable and accepting as people hum and nod in agreement. Siino and Porter say there are many misconceptions about feminism floating around out there. “The idea that we’re just bitter, horrible people who don’t have any joy in our lives. It’s like we don’t know how to have fun…It’s hard to explain because I think a lot of the misconceptions are bad in themselves,” says Siino. “Like there’s a lot of the ‘hairy man-hating lesbian’ but there’s nothing wrong with a hairy man-hating lesbian. There’s something to be said when that’s how you insult a woman—by saying that being unattractive and not attracted to men is the worse thing you can be.”
“And that being hairy makes you unattractive,” Porter adds.
The club plans to hold three different types of meetings this semester: consciousness discussions, where members come with issues that they want to discuss with each other; event planning, where everyone will be involved in what activities and events the Collective holds on campus; and meetings that are based around guest speakers, movie screenings, and other activities.
Meetings take place in Fogelson Library, which happens to have a plentiful collection of feminist texts and resources, at 9 p.m. every Monday.