From: Dana Pratt
Date: November 5, 2021
Subject: Center for Women & Gender Equity November 2021 Newsletter

Photo Titled: Center for Women and Gender Equity, November Newsletter with a lilac background
Center for Women & Gender Equity in purple and gold text.

Hello and welcome to the November Edition of the Center for Women & Gender Equity Monthly Newsletter! If this is the first time you are receiving this newsletter in your inbox, welcome! We are so thrilled you're here! If you have been a subscriber to this newsletter for a while, welcome back! Readers new and old, we hope you will enjoy the content that has been written and currated for you by the Center for Women & Gender Equity Peer Educators this month. 

In the following newsletter and newsletters to come, you can expect to find content that celebrates the accomplishments of WCU students, practical skill building tips for preventing and mitigating harm through bystander intervention, inclusive and evidence-based sex education materials, tools to aid in advocacy work, and, of course, all of the upcoming programs and events that the Center for Women & Gender Equity and our campus and community partners will be offering.

Our space is dedicated to facilitating the exploration of gender identities and their relationship to other categories and experiences of social difference. Our hope for this newsletter is to provide meaningful strategies for developing healthy and fulfilling friendships, relationships, and connections to others, in ways that maintain a campus environment that is safe and respectful for every member of our community.

We encourage active engagement from all of our readers and partners across campus. Is there content you would like to see in future newsletters? Please feel free to contact Tess Benser ( with your suggestions.

If at any time you find that this monthly communication is not meeting your needs, or is simply not something you wish to see in your inbox, please feel free to click the unsubscribe option at the bottom of this email. In our work at the Center for Women & Gender Equity, establishing and honoring boundaries is paramount. We hope you will feel encouraged to assert your own boundaries about the emails you receive and the content you engage with.

This edition of our newsletter comes to you just as we are about to head into the period of late fall and early winter filled with many holidays. This time of year can be really joyful, but it also presents many challenges. November brings to us the Thanksgiving holiday, and with it, the legacy of the displacement and harm of Native and Indigenous communities in North America. Thanksgiving being so food focused can bring with it a lot of attention to diet and body size, which in turn are attached to many other forms of oppression.

The Thanksgiving holiday is also a time that is full of narratives about family and togetherness, which can be painful for folks who come from unsupportive families of origin. It also can be difficult for folks without the means or ability to be with their loved ones. There is the economic pressure of the holiday season, with expectations of abundant food and gift giving. There are challenges for folks who don't celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas this time of year - everything from navigating school and office closures to frustration about the lack of acknowledgement of other important holidays. 

And all of this is happening in the context of yet another year in which the COVID-19 pandemic brings it's own challenges, from hindering travel, to the accessibility of vaccines, and the incredible emotional toll that nearly two years of pandemic brings. We hope this edition of the newsletter offers some tools to help you to navigate this time of year, and that you are able to spend this time in whatever way brings you the most peace, safety, and joy. 

We look forward to finishing out the fall semester together!


Tess Benser
Assistant Director of Outreach & Engagement

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Newcombe Scholar Series: Kickstarting your Career Search

Tuesday, November 9
12:00pm - 1:00pm
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Join the Center for Women & Gender Equity and the Twardowski Career Development Center to learn about the resources TCDC provides, where to focus your job search and how to take the first steps into the market. Thuy Yancey of CCRES will join to talk about how to manage parenting and caregiving during a job search and how to leverage social media and the internet to support your search. Bring any questions you may have to this virtual event to learn more!



Using a Trauma Informed Approach to Support Students Impacted by Experiences of Harm

Wednesday, November 10
1:00pm - 2:00pm
Sykes Room 209 , 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19382, United States
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This training workshop is specifically designed for WCU faculty and staff who support students who may disclose an experience of harm or violence (specific roles include DOSA Process and Policy Advisors; Deputy Title IX officers, and designated 'first responders'). This workshop will offer an introduction to trauma informed practices. The workshop will also include skill building and resources to support students. The session will be facilitated by partners at The Crime Victim's Center of Chester County, Inc. Brought to you by WCU It's On Us,
The Center for Women & Gender Equity, Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion & The Counseling Center. This workshop funded by a 2021 It's On Us PA Grant. For more information, contact the Center for Women & Gender Equity via e-mail (



Sexy Bingo

Wednesday, November 17
7:00pm - 8:30pm
Private Location (register to display)
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This is not your grandparents’ bingo! Join the Center for Women & Gender Equity for a fun bingo game to grow your sexuality education. Engage in conversations about sexuality and learn about safer sex practices, sexual anatomy, sexual behavior and preference, and pleasure. Winners will be given prizes. Registration is not required but encouraged!



Friday, November 5
Start End   Event         Location
6:00pm 9:00pm Queer Movie Night Private Location (register to display)
Monday, November 8
1:00pm 2:15pm Native American Heritage Month Social Justice Education Conversation Series DMC (Sykes Room 003)
Tuesday, November 9
1:00pm 3:00pm From Allyship to Advocacy Training Private Location (register to display)
Wednesday, November 10
6:00pm 7:00pm Reflections on Indigenous Youth, Colonial State Violence, and Building a Movement for Decolonization Zoom
Thursday, November 11
1:00pm 2:00pm Queering the Conversation with PA State Rep. Brian Sims Private Location (register to display)
Friday, November 12
1:00pm 2:00pm Trans Advocacy Training Private Location (register to display)
Monday, November 15
1:00pm 2:15pm Native American Heritage Month Social Justice Education Conversation Series DMC (Sykes Room 003)
Wednesday, November 17
5:30pm 6:30pm Wellness Wednesday: Crunch Time Brandywine 031
Friday, November 19
1:30pm 2:30pm Peer to Peer: Mental Health Workshop Room 192 Schmucker Science North

A light yellow header with gray and navy blue lettering reading: "November 2021" and "Sex Education: Aftercare for Everyone." On the right, there are three graphics of people communicating on a couch, online, and in bed.
Sex Education: Why Aftercare is Important for Everyone
By: Callie Anderson

Following even the best, most satisfying sexual activity, it can be common to still feel let down and disappointed. This feeling, called post-coital dysphoria, is the result of the “euphoric rush and sudden comedown that follows intense sexual pleasure,” and can be caused by a number of factors including hormones, feelings about sex, feelings about the relationship, body issues, past traumas, and psychological distress. Feeling disappointed after sex may not be a reflection of the sex itself and, instead, be a reflection of what happens after sex.


Aftercare is the care-taking that happens between partners after sex. It is a way to check in and address the physical and emotional well-being of everyone involved.


Aftercare is most commonly discussed in BDSM and kink communities, but aftercare is for everyone participating in sex from the most vanilla to the most BDSM sex, from the most casual hook up to the most long-term, committed relationship. And aftercare looks different for different people, so it is important to communicate with sexual partners to discuss how to best care for each other.


According to Gail Saltz, a professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, “Part of the point of aftercare is to diminish any sort of post-sexual shame, which can be heightened by sex followed by goodbye, leaving a partner to feel you [didn’t care] for them but only [wanted] sexual gratification.”


It could seem awkward to discuss aftercare with a more casual relationship, but even a brief conversation to ask, “Are you good?” and see what went well can go a long way at diminishing post-sex blues. In a more committed or long-term relationship, it’s also important to include aftercare rituals to maintain a healthy emotional connection between partners and keep sex an enjoyable activity to look forward to.


Some examples of aftercare include, but are not limited to:

  • Cuddling
  • Getting a snack or water
  • Watching a movie or TV show
  • Taking care of any minor injuries that could have occurred (more applicable to BDSM or kinky sex)
  • Falling asleep together
  • Recounting the scene or sexual activity
  • Acts of service like getting a blanket
  • Words of affirmation
  • Massages
  • Playing video games
  • Space on your own
  • Taking a long bath

Discussing aftercare with sexual partners is important, especially if you have different preferences. Some people might want to decompress on their own while others want to cuddle and talk. Talking about aftercare can ensure that it’s possible to address all partners’ post-sex needs and leave everyone feeling cared for as best as possible.


Even though it could seem intimidating, bringing up aftercare can be as easy as saying, “Hey, after sex, can we do [enter aftercare here] to wind down?” Implementing aftercare practices into your sex life should put you on the right path to leave sexual encounters feeling positive about sex, your partner(s), and yourself.

A purple graphic with yellow text that reads, "November 2021. Travel in the Times of COVID-19."

Travel in the Times of COVID-19

By the Newsletter Team! 

    As the holidays approach, many of us will be traveling to see our families. Some choose to, and others may not have a choice. Many of these families traveling could include small children that cannot be vaccinated yet. Further, the employees at these methods of travel are at much higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Although we normally think of bystander intervention as responding to harmful situations like sexual violence, potential exposure to COVID-19 is its own form of harm. Therefore, when traveling this holiday season, we should all strive to be active and aware passengers to keep everyone involved as safe as possible. 

    Overall, according to the CDC, “Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.” So, the number one active bystander tip for any of these methods is to remind people to wear their masks correctly. To understand how to politely remind people to wear their masks correctly, check out this article from the Cleveland Clinic. Of course, the CDC also recommends delaying all travel until you are fully vaccinated. Social distancing is sometimes difficult on crowded modes of transportation, but it is still recommended, as well. Now, for the realities of staying safe on certain methods of travel:


Travel by Plane: Naturally, air travel is split into two parts: the airport and the airplane itself. When it comes to COVID-19, both have their own concerns. Airports are extremely large structures, so there is usually more space to try to social distance. However, the CDC notes that airport terminals are a particular hotspot, specifically security lines. There are a lot of bodies in close proximity as well as many frequently touched surfaces. It is important to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching these surfaces. Each passenger is now allowed to have one container of hand sanitizer, up to 12 ounces, in their carry-on. If possible, it is better to have more carry-on bags and less checked luggage. You will be the only one touching your carry-ons, while checked luggage is touched by potentially eight employees or more.

As for airplanes, germs and viruses do not spread easily because of how the air circulates. Try to use the restroom ahead of your flight and remain seated as much as possible, as moving around the cabin increases transmission risk. In general, it is very difficult to maintain social distance. You have to sit next to the same people, potentially for hours. If possible, try to book flights with the fewest number of layovers. It can also be difficult if the airline still offers snacks and drinks. While it is advised to just save any food or drink for your destination, if it is a longer flight, then try to work out a system with your neighbors where only one person eats/drinks maskless at a time. Finally, if a plane is too packed for social distancing, some airlines, such as Delta, have been allowing people to make changes to their economy tickets without a change fee. Check to see if this applies to your airline if you are worried about flight capacity. 


Travel by Car and Rideshare: When looking at all the different forms of travel, using your own personal car or carpooling with others may be a safer option than taking a train or bus full of people when it is feasible.  Even if you are in your own personal car or driving with people you trust, it is still possible to come in contact with others at rest stops or gas stations, where masks may not be required.  In that case, it is important to remember to properly wear your mask and ensure that whatever space you are entering accommodates social distancing. 

Utilizing car services can be convenient and also potentially less stressful than taking a bus or train full of people, but it is still important to know how to take safety precautions.  Currently, at Uber, all drivers and riders are required to wear a face mask/covering, even if they are vaccinated. The company also states they are working to provide drivers and delivery workers with face masks and disinfectant supplies, you can visit for more information.  They have been encouraging drivers to keep their windows rolled down to improve ventilation, but that is often not possible because of the weather and especially with winter approaching, so it is important to take the safety measures listed above for safe travel.  

In terms of Lyft, their policies differ slightly, before driving or riding they require you to agree that you are symptom-free and will comply with CDC guidelines to wear a mask/face covering.  For both drivers and riders, if they receive feedback that you are not wearing a mask properly, they require you to take a selfie with your mask on before riding/driving with Lyft again.  The company is also currently working to help provide drivers with access to vaccines as well.  You can go to for general safety measures and policies specific to COVID-19 as well.  


Travel by Bus: Currently there might be some upcoming changes with bus availability through SEPTA so it is important to consider that when planning your travel.  SEPTA’s contract with the largest transit union, Transport Workers Union Local 234, expires on October 31st.  Workers are currently trying to fight for their rights to better wages, maternal/parental leave, increased safety measures, and support for workers and their family members that were put at risk during the pandemic.  If a contract that satisfies these demands is not met, there is a possibility of an upcoming strike, you can read more at the Philadelphia Tribune.  

Outside of planning around service interruptions, here are a few of the measures that SEPTA has taken during the pandemic.  As of June 2021, all capacity restrictions have been removed, but riders are still required to wear face coverings.  SEPTA also reported that to mitigate the further spread of COVID because of relaxed capacity restrictions, they are upgrading to “high-efficiency” air-cabin filters on all vehicles, and air change should occur on a vehicle every 2-3 minutes.  

As of June 2021, SEPTA also released a new tool that allows you to view seat availability on every upcoming bus or rail route.  It is accessible on mobile phones as well as computers.  This tool can be very useful when planning your route if you want to avoid riding on heavily boarded vehicles.  The tool is accessible through

Outside of SEPTA services, some people may also be utilizing Greyhound bus systems for travel outside of the West Chester/Philadelphia area.  A factor important to note is that there are currently less bus lines available through Greyhound, the company decreased the number of active lines because of the pandemic and overall less demand.  If you are still able to use Greyhound bus lines, here are a few things to know beforehand.  All riders are required to wear face coverings and will be denied boarding if they do not comply, they have also increased the regular cleaning of vehicles and have an air ventilation system that replaces cabin air every 5 minutes.  Also, If you purchase a ticket and then need to cancel or postpone your trip for concerns related to COVID, there are no cancellation or change fees.

Travel by Train: If you prefer staying close to the ground, avoiding the hustle and bustle of airports, train travel may be more your speed. Train travel is often forgotten by travelers, especially the younger generation. When we add Covid-19 into the equation it is important to ask, “Is train travel a safer alternative?”

An article by Insider states, “The most important thing to keep in mind when traveling (or leaving the house at all) is to understand how the virus is generally transmitted, which is directly from person to person by way of respiratory droplets. Now apply that fact to various modes of getting around. Airplanes and airports present plenty of opportunities for exposure through in-person encounters. Rental cars provide far fewer. But unlike renting a car, riding a train will indeed likely expose you to other travelers as well as staff during your journey. ‘Remember that most of the transmission of the coronavirus is respiratory — it's not through inanimate objects,’ says Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of the division of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo.  He also notes that much-discussed pre-clinical and asymptomatic opportunities for exposure are possible while traveling. That means the bulk of the risk in train travel comes from fellow passengers and staff on the train and in the station. So, your chief concern if traveling by train should be minding your social distance, and also maintaining impeccable hand hygiene.(Dubin, 2020). 

Train travel does offer the option of a private cabin, something plane, car, and bus travel do not. Of course, sleeper cars add an expense to your trip, ranging anywhere from $400 for the basic sleeper car, and upwards of $1,000 for a wheelchair accessible car. This cost does also include meals and attendant service, which closes the price gap between air and train travel, depending on where you are going, of course. 

In an article by Business Insider, a train traveler explained that food is included in the aforementioned cost. “Due to pandemic safety rules, the attendant took my order and delivered my food in a bag with utensils and drinks. Roomette fares include one alcoholic drink, unlimited coffee, water, and soft drinks. Sadly, the dining car beloved by many Amtrak regulars was not available due to COVID, and guests were instructed to take their food and drinks back to their seats.”

It is important to mention that train travel is slower than traveling by car or airplane, and this can sway people to use other alternatives. However, the ability to have a private room to dine and travel in does offer a safer alternative, and the ability to take your mask off in the privacy of your own space if you wish to do so. 

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS BY AMTRAK: “The Amtrak online booking engine now also displays how full each train is to inform ticket purchasing, which is especially helpful if travelers are considering regular seating options in coach. The company also produced a video outlining its current protocols explained by its Medical Services Team, and an air filtration system keeps the on-board air fresh, cycling 44 times an hour.

Pictured is the title Navigating the Holiday Season: Covid-19, Gender Identity, & food focused situations. Included is a light brown background, a photo of a map, a calendar that says "holiday" and a clipart piece of people together with masks o

Navigating The Holiday Season: Covid, Gender Identity, & Food-Focused Situations

By: Dana Pratt(she/her)

For myself and many others, this Thanksgiving will be the first holiday I spend back with my family since the beginning of Covid-19. For my family, this means spending the week in a lake house in Upstate NY, shared with my mother’s 6 siblings and all of their children and grandchildren. This has always been my favorite time of year. Sitting around a table eating some of my favorite foods, baking pans of cookies, and playing every board game known to man is what Thanksgiving always looked like for me. Now though, as Covid-19 continues on as fiercely as it started, and I have begun my sophomore year of college as a loud, queer woman who spends her days working at West Chester’s Center for Women & Gender Equity on campus, the thought of being surrounded by my family causes nerves and anxieties I never imagined. These feelings seem to strike a chord with many of us, and I hope this article can be a helpful tool during the holiday season. 
For lots of us, the initial shutdown allowed us to step back and take a deep breath. Among the chaos, we stopped our daily routines of never slowing down to think about anything other than what was on our to-do lists. This led to an outpouring of folks realizing our true selves, our identity, and reclaiming our voices, and refusing to be silent. I was able to graduate high school and begin my college career without the attention of my family since we were all doing our part to stay safe, but this also means that come November 25th, I have nearly two years to fill them in on. The idea of this can be daunting, especially when we recognize that our family may not be the most validating, accepting people in our lives. Before we step into the holidays this year, I think it is important that we discuss the elements of these times that can cause uncomfortable, traumatic situations and what we can do to prepare for them. 
SAFETY: At this point in the pandemic, it seems that we have decided to simply live through it as if we will wake up one day, and it will all go away, kind of like how we ignore the heaping pile of dirty laundry on that chair in all of our bedrooms. At this point, many are vaccinated which adds a layer of comfort when gathering with others, but data continues to show that the vaccine, regardless of type, is not 100% effective in preventing the contraction of Covid-19. Family situations will differ in vaccination status and individual safety measures being taken. This can lead to uncomfortable conversations, but it is most important to protect yourself and others from getting sick.  
Planning Your Gathering
Make sure people who are sick, people who are in isolation because they have tested positive, people who are in quarantine, or people who are awaiting test results do not attend. 
Prepare seating arrangements to allow for physical distancing. If possible, consider seating individual households at separate tables. 
If you are hosting, remember that it is OKAY to require folks to be vaccinated in order to attend if that makes you feel safest.
If you do not feel comfortable being in a group of people, vocalize that. You can always suggest a zoom session or perhaps an outdoor event so that you can still see loved ones. 


Pronouns at the Table

In the past year and a half, an incredible amount of my friends and family have come out as queer, trans, non-binary, etc. This can mean new names, pronouns, and perhaps partners. This holiday season, it is important that we do all we can to affirm people’s identities at the dinner table, even for those who are already out to the family. Using the correct pronouns is one of the simplest, but most important ways to make someone feel seen, heard, and supported. Pronouns also influence how we discuss someone’s romantic interests., families love to ask when there will be another grandchild or at what point will your cousin have a boyfriend or girlfriend. This means heteronormative terms will often be used. A simple reminder to use the term partner, or even mentioning that this question is not appropriate, can be extremely affirming to family members who are being asked. 

Tips to be an Ally for the Holidays

  • Name Tags: An Article by hem suggests that name tags can be a great way to easily represent yourself. Especially since most of us have not seen each other for a few years, more cousins have been born, and many of our family members look completely different. This can keep us from having the “I’m ____, remember me?” exchange.  
  • Be respectful of friends’ wishes to stay safe during the holidays. College often serves as a more accepting place where folks can express their sexuality and identity openly. At home, things may be different. If your friend asks you to not use their pronouns or chosen name, and instead use their deadname when texting or when around family, honor that. While no one should ever be in the position where they must sacrifice their identity, it can be the only option in order to remain safe in their homes, and it is crucial that you honor that. 
  • Be Antisocial: My mother would gasp at me writing that, but it is true. Sometimes, our phones can be our most comforting place. It’s filled with other queer friends that understand the struggle, or at least understand us. The Holidays are often filled with constant socialization, which, for college kids, means telling 12 different relatives what you’re majoring in for the third time that day. It can be a lot, especially when they are unable to use your chosen name or your pronouns. It is important to take a break. Sneak away for a walk with family members that are acceptable if you have them, or find the family dog to bring you some peace. 
  • Friends- Be willing to serve as the ally on call. Before your LGBTQ loved one heads out for the holidays, remind them that you’re there and happy to talk/text/IM if they need you. Letting people know that it’s ok to ask for help is important.
  • Family- Listen. Understand. Respect. The Human Rights Campaign found, “Our 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report found 67% of LGBTQ youth heard their families make negative comments about LGBTQ people and only 24% report they can ‘definitely’ be themselves as an LGBTQ person at home.” My roommate told me that their family does pronoun checks during the holiday, something I could never imagine some families doing, but it is a good practice to start. If you are feeling like you do not understand a queer family member, it is time to do some good old studying. There are incredible podcasts, shows, and articles that can help explain without you asking 20 questions that may be invasive or triggering.
Below is a list of resources from information about the LGBTQ+ community to a non-binary gift-giving guide. The holidays are all about spending time together, so it is everyone’s job to make that experience an inclusive one.  









  • Beyond the Gender Binary: By AAlok Vaid-Menon



 Food & The Holidays: Being an Ally

Holidays have always been food-centered. My aunt and uncle notoriously cook double the amount of food that we actually need, becoming so stressed by the time we all arrive that they need a nap. As we listen to them lovingly bicker about the spoon for the mashed potatoes, waiting for it to be time to fill our plates. I used to find myself watching how much of each thing my family would put on their plates, so I knew what was “appropriate”, a family of runners and dietitians. For many of us, family is where the expectation boxes start piling up in our arms.
For some of us, the holidays look like this:

  • Eating a smaller amount than desired at a holiday dinner to prevent remarks on our body size or food preferences
  • Arranging family events that we know we won’t enjoy because our family expects us to
  • Cooking more food than we can reasonably be expected to cook, without sufficient help
  • Scrambling to buy, write, address and send out dozens of holiday cards so no one’s feelings are hurt
  • Being overwhelmed for months on end

Holidays: Food, Weight, and Unrealistic Expectations

Holidays are often centered around food because, well, food is great. It can make us feel comforted, warm, and even take us back to our childhood, but with the positive aspects of food comes the negative ones. Disordered eating habits can be triggered during the holidays, especially when food is at the center of your family events, and fatphobia is often served as a side dish during dinner conversations. For thin people, the size of chairs, beds, and other housing amenities is not even a fleeting thought as they travel to aunts and uncles’ homes, but for fat people, it defines their experience. Unlearning the fatphobia we have been socialized to believe for the entirety of our life is not easy, in fact, it has been one of the hardest things I have experienced. But, here is a good start, a memo for the holidays for everyone to follow: Not your body? Not your place. Eat pie, or don’t, but don’t take everyone down with you because diet culture has taught you to. Holidays are a time to come together, to support each other, and coming around a table filled with food is difficult for lots of people. Keeping diet culture and body talk out of the equation can lead to an inclusive, fat-positive, food-positive holiday, and who doesn’t want that? 

Keeping Diet Culture & Fatphobia off of the Dinner Menu:

 How to be inclusive of fat family members & folks with eating disorders

  • “There are a thousand ways to be, and being fat is one of them” (
  • Be an ally by reinforcing that eating pie will not make you fat, but that if you are fat or become fat, there is no shame in that.
  • If you feel safe and comfortable, remind family members that passing judgment about what others eat or look like is not their place. 
  • Take fat folks into account. Seating should be size-inclusive and flexible for folks to feel comfortable and at home. 
  • The first step in combating diet culture is being able to identify it, and thus know how to address them, whether in front of everyone or with a family member who is understanding.
  • Don’t pressure other family members to eat, comment on how much or how little they eat, or talk about their appearance (even if it’s complimentary). Again, these behaviors can be hurtful rather than helpful.
  • Plan activities that don’t center around eating. Playing board games, going out to look at holiday lights, watching movies—all of these can be done without focusing on food.
  • Don’t have conversations about weight, food, or diets. It’s easy to make offhand remarks about how “stuffed” you are or how you’re going to need a workout after that turkey dinner. But for someone with an eating disorder, these kinds of comments can cause great anxiety.
  • Be informed. Learn about the person’s particular disorder—the causes, the challenges, and the coping strategies. Knowing more will help you be more understanding of their behavior.
  • Ask how they are feeling and whether there is anything you can do to help (if you have the kind of relationship where you feel comfortable doing so).
  • Remind family members that you love and care about them. You can offer hugs or kind words, or make a more subtle gesture like making sure they’re included in activities and conversations.

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Newcombe Scholar Spotlight: Ana Zavala 

Gold graphic with photo of Ana Zavala

My name is Ana Zavala, and I am a Senior at WCU, graduating in Spring 2022. My major is Spanish Education, and I am also minoring in Youth Empowerment and Urban Studies. I am most excited to start my teaching career to empower students to recognize all they have to offer to their community and the world. After graduating, I look forward to furthering my education and also receiving my certification in ESL. Teaching Spanish and English as a Second Language is vital because language is one of the most powerful tools, we can use to create a world we want for ourselves and others. It is incredible being able to see students connect even when language barriers exist, and I want to be there to guide them along the way in learning and connecting with others.

Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be. - Rita Pierson

Being an Advocate this Holiday Season
By Holland Morgan (they/them)

Being an advocate in your family

In terms of moving from allyship to advocacy during the holidays and family gatherings, it is important not only to show your friends and family that you support them but to also take action when they are put in a harmful situation.  Harm can include a multitude of situations such as uncomfortable comments, using the wrong name/pronouns, excluding a LGBTQIA+ family member from bringing their partner, and any other form of hostility or violence.
  • Thinking about the environment at family events or the dinner table, we may all be familiar with the family member that may bring up an uncomfortable topic or political issue.  In that case, if you can recognize that someone is uncomfortable and are in a position to intervene, here are a few approaches you can take:
    • Redirect the conversation to a completely different topic.
    • If you are not able to redirect or if the hostile family member does not budge, ask the person that is being harmed if they would like help in removing themselves from the situation.
    • If it is safe to do so and does not draw extra attention to the individual being made uncomfortable by these comments, open up conversation and inform the person making these comments why it is unacceptable and then try to move on.
    • If you are trying to help a friend or family member, do not assume at that moment that you know what kind of support they may be looking for.  If you intervene without thinking about your own safety and theirs, that can potentially lead to a worse situation. 
Supporting Indigenous Communities

There are other ways to be an advocate outside of family events.  In more recent years, there has been tension between participating in the tradition of Thanksgiving and recognizing the true historical significance of the holiday and the continued violence towards Indigenous communities. To many of these communities, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning, and it is a reminder of the lives lost and land stolen.  In recent years, more Americans are aware of the fact that the origins of Thanksgiving were not a “peaceful dinner”, but they also need to be aware of how they can support Indigenous communities.  Below is a list of Indigenous-led organizations where you can donate and learn more about ‘decolonizing’ your Thanksgiving. 

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women USA: “Our mission is to bring our missing home and help the families of the murdered cope and support them through the process of grief. We give them hands-on support and guidance and if we don’t have the answers, we get the answers so that these families do not feel abandoned and alone in this struggle like so many have before them. Our broader goal is to eradicate this problem so that the future generations thrive.” 

National Indian Childcare Association:” The mission of the National Indian Child Care Association is to promote high quality culturally relevant child care and development and to unify tribes and tribal organizations by providing leadership, support and advocacy on behalf of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.”

First Nations Development Institute: “Our mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities. We invest in and create innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities.  With the support of individuals, foundations, corporate and tribal donors, First Nations Development Institute improves economic conditions for Native Americans through technical assistance & training, advocacy & policy, and direct financial grants.”

Alternative Ways to Participate in the Tradition of Gift Giving

According to the Stanford University Sustainability office, during the holiday season, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week.  In this article, we have discussed advocating for those close to you and other communities, but it is also important to advocate for a more sustainable way to participate in our cultural traditions.  Our culture’s concentration on materialism is not economically feasible for many and is also not sustainable, so here is a list of different forms of gifts that don’t revolve around more buying more *stuff*.  
  • Give them your time: Quality time with the ones you love is an amazing gift! You can go for a nice walk at their favorite park or neighborhood, bake or cook them something, etc.
  • Create something for them: Many people love handmade gifts! You can create a drawing, song, collage of photos, or put together a friendship bracelet.  
  • Get them sustainably sourced flowers: Many mass-grown flowers are produced using chemicals that harm harvesters and communities, so when purchasing or harvesting your own flowers, make sure they are sustainably sourced!
Guides to local shopping:

If you want to purchase a gift for someone, it can be more ethical to shop locally rather than purchasing from organizations such as Amazon on Target.  Retail corporations see major surges in profit during the holiday season but if you are ordering online the transit needed can contribute to carbon emissions and recently there have been mass worker protests from a number of different corporations demanding better pay and working conditions.  So this holiday season, give your support to locally-run businesses instead.
  • Green Philly offers a complete guide to shopping locally for pretty much any gift you can imagine in the Philadelphia area, they list local sources for anything from bath products, chocolate, clothing, books, even compost services!  
  • The West Chester Business Improvement District has compiled a list of all local businesses in the West Chester area to support small companies and increase customer interaction.
  • The website Hello, West Chester also has a list of local Black-owned businesses in the area.  The pandemic disproportionately affected Black businesses, so it is important to support them during this busy season!
  • Dealnews put together a list of Indigenous-run businesses that you can support and also provides sources where you can view a business, the nation it is connected to, and the location.


A green graphic with blue and dark green texts that reads, "November 2021. Five Femme Indigenous Leaders from Around the World."

Five Femme Indigenous Climate Leaders From Around the World

By Jocelyn Brown (she/her) and Nicole Salapong (she/her)

November is considered Indigenous Heritage Month. Therefore, in this collaborative article with a peer educator representing the Office of Sustainability, we wanted to celebrate Indigenous peoples’ importance when it comes to fighting the climate crisis. While they may only account for 5% of the world’s total population, Indigenous peoples preserve and maintain around a quarter of the Earth’s surface, both land and sea, and over 80% of the world’s biodiversity. Of course, all Indigenous people promote sustainable approaches, but the burden of responsibility mostly falls on the shoulders of Indigenous women or other femme-presenting folks. This month, we wanted to highlight just five of these incredible femme leaders in climate policy and community change from around the world. 

  1. Lucy Mulenkei

    Lucy Mulenkei is the Executive Director of the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) in Kenya. As a part of the Maasai tribe, she holds training seminars for other nomadic and pastoralist communities to develop sustainability and promote biodiversity in Kenya. Mulenkei is acutely aware of the climate challenges facing women in her region. For 17 years, she served as a broadcast journalist, speaking on the issues facing rural Kenya and all of East Africa. For example, gold mining and severe droughts have crippled the clean water supply. This forces women and girls to travel much longer distances for water, which puts them at a greater risk of gender-based violence along their travels. Together with their international partners, IIN provides new water wells, curates a tree nursery to protect against erosion, and teaches femme-presenting farmers how to harvest and conserve rainwater. Mulenkei also co-founded the Indigenous Women Biodiversity Network, which promotes the voices of Indigenous women from all 7 regions of the world, including the Arctic. For more about her organizations, follow @IndigenousInfo1and @Iwbnglobal on Twitter.

  1. The Fijian Women’s Weather Watch

The next entry is actually an entire group of women. It is no secret that Fiji sees its fair share of natural disasters, and climate change is only exacerbating this issue. Femlink Pacific, which focuses on empowering women through media, started the Women’s Weather Watch (WWW) after Hurricane Mick in 2009. The reason a program like WWW is necessary is that these women’s communities excluded them from the decision-making processes around natural disasters, despite women’s continued selflessness in these situations. Fijian women are often the last to leave the house in the event of a natural disaster, burying food in the ground to keep it safe for when the storm passes and warning their neighbors. With WWW, women can now warn their communities in a more efficient way and receive recognition for doing so. For example, when Leba Volau receives a disaster alert on her phone, she is the first person to alert the entire village. In addition to communicating about the weather, Volau realized she was the main source of new information for her village. With what she has learned in the program, Volau says, “I told the village elders we should have access for people with disabilities too. The walkway should be accessible to disabled. . . They just looked at me. Because I’ve been to many workshops and consultations. It’s an eye-opener for me. So when I go back and tell them, it is also new to them.” Information is power, and Femlink Pacific is empowering Indigenous women in the Pacific. To see more of their initiatives, follow them at @femlinkpacific on Twitter. 

  1. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Hindou Oumarous Ibrahim comes from the Lake Chad Basin and is a member of the indigenous Mbororo people. Due to rising temperatures associated with climate change, Lake Chad is only 10% of the size that it was in the 1960s; this blow to the area along with local conflicts has led to a crisis that affects over 10 million people and has forced over 2 million to evacuate. Oumarou Ibrahim recognizes that these issues are causing problems for not only the population of the Lake Chad Basin but for the cultural dynamic of the area as well. As people migrate to urban areas, traditional knowledge is unable to be passed down through the generations. Oumarou Ibrahim collects indigenous knowledge about Chad as part of a 3D mapping project in order to prevent resource-based conflicts and bring people together to plan a more prosperous future together. She served as a coordinator of the Peul Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad, a co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, and a member of the executive committee of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee. Over the past decade and across many other forums and networks, she has worked tirelessly to bring indigenous voices to the forefront of climate change advocacy. For more about Ourmarou Ibrahim’s efforts, follow @hindououmar on Twitter.

  1. Nemonte Nenquimo

Not many can say that they took a federal government to court, but Nemonte Nenquimo can. Her legal victory over the Ecuadorian government in 2019 was responsible for saving 500,000 acres of rainforest and created a legal precedent for indigenous rights. The first femme-presenting president of the Waorani people of Pastaza in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Nenquimo had a happy childhood in the jungle; however, after visiting Ecuador’s capital Quito for the first time, she realized the importance of protecting her home. Since the 1960s, logging, oil exploration, and road development have had a major negative impact on Ecuador’s rainforests. Today, 80% of the Waorani population lives on only one-tenth of its original ancestral territory. Ultimately, Nenquimo’s efforts to lead her people and protect Waorani land led to a legal challenge to the Ecuadorian government, which decided to auction off oil concessions that encroached on Waorani territory. The long legal battle was won, and an Ecuadorian court blocked the sale of the land. Nenquimo says that by working together, “We can make and build something very beautiful in the world for future generations,” -- a guiding principle for her ancestors, who defended their land in the way that she is. For more information about Nenquimo’s story, as well as those of other indigenous communities defending their rights in the Amazon, follow @AFrontlines on Twitter.

  1. Autumn Peltier

Only seventeen years old, Autumn Peltier has been advocating for water preservation for First Nations people in Canada for over nine years. She’s spoken in front of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as the United Nations General Assembly about the grim realities of water pollution, and her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Peltier’s interaction with Trudeau came after he made controversial decisions to approve Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion and Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement -- pipeline expansions that heighten oil spill risk and increase carbon emissions. Inspired by the opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline by members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Peltier hopes to continue standing in solidarity with other advocates across regions. In 2019, she was named chief water commissioner by Anishinabek Nation, a political advocacy group representing forty First Nations across Ontario. Pelier’s great aunt Josephine Mandamin had the role before her and taught her everything she knows about conservation. Mandamin’s life was spent protecting the Great Lakes; she established the Great Lakes Guardians Council and founded the Mother Earth Walk. Before Mandamin passed away in 2019, Peltier says that she asked Peltier to continue working to protect water. When asked about continuing Mandamin’s legacy, Peltier simply states, “I’m going to carry on her work until we don’t have to anymore.” To learn more about her mission, follow @autumn.peltier on Twitter.

    The saying goes that “knowledge is power,” but Indigenous knowledge is especially powerful, and it deserves to be protected and preserved. These five women have proven that fact time and time again, as they are the current stewards of our Earth. The President of Conservation International, Jennifer Morris, once said, “Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis — and they are powerful agents in the fight to halt it.” However powerful Indigenous knowledge is, Indigenous women should still not have to fight alone. Morris also says, “A critical step to protecting nature — to protecting the planet — is elevating the rights and roles of the world’s indigenous peoples, especially women.” Therefore, while following these activists on Twitter, see where you can donate and what you can do to help. Gravitate towards Indigenous knowledge in the classroom and in your life. 


To learn more, visit these sites: 

Newcombe Scholar Series: Kickstarting your Career Search Logo


Newcombe Scholar Series: Kickstarting your Career Search

Tuesday, November 9, 2021
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Online Event
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Join the Center for Women & Gender Equity and the Twardowski Career Development Center to learn about the resources TCDC provides, where to focus your job search and how to take the first steps into the market. Thuy Yancey of CCRES will join to talk about how to manage parenting and caregiving during a job search and how to leverage social media and the internet to support your search. Bring any questions you may have to this virtual event to learn more!

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Using a Trauma Informed Approach to Support Students Impacted by Experiences of Harm

Wednesday, November 10, 2021
1:00pm - 2:00pm
Private Location (register to display)
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This training workshop is specifically designed for WCU faculty and staff who support students who may disclose an experience of harm or violence (specific roles include DOSA Process and Policy Advisors; Deputy Title IX officers, and designated 'first responders'). This workshop will offer an introduction to trauma informed practices. The workshop will also include skill building and resources to support students. The session will be facilitated by partners at The Crime Victim's Center of Chester County, Inc. Brought to you by WCU It's On Us,
The Center for Women & Gender Equity, Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion & The Counseling Center. This workshop funded by a 2021 It's On Us PA Grant. For more information, contact the Center for Women & Gender Equity via e-mail (

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Sexy Bingo

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
7:00pm - 8:30pm
Private Location (register to display)
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This is not your grandparents' bingo! Join the Center for Women & Gender Equity for a fun bingo game to grow your sexuality education. Engage in conversations about sexuality and learn about safer sex practices, sexual anatomy, sexual behavior and preference, and pleasure. Winners will be given prizes. Registration is not required but encouraged!