From: Tess Benser
Date: December 9, 2022
Subject: Center for Women & Gender Equity December 2022 Newsletter

Center for Women & Gender Equity in purple and gold text.

Teal graphic with illustrations of pine trees

[Teal graphic with illustrations of pine trees.]

Greetings Golden Rams!

We're very nearly at the end of the semester! Congratulations for making it to this point! 

Center for Women & Gender Equity peer educators write on a number of topics in this newsletter. We have an update on reproductive rights following the Midterm elections, including an update from the Georgia runoff from December 6th. You will find an account of a peer educator's experiences studying and working in Norway for the semester, including insights for folks who may be considering a trip abroad. Finally, we have a piece on the art of being bad at things - a love letter to learning to enjoy practice and embrace challenges. 

We hope in these pieces you will find moments of joy and imaginings of a more just and liberated world, and we look forward to continuing this workwith you all in the Spring. 

Wishing you joy, health, and safety as we finish out the year!


Mx. Tess Benser
Assistant Director of Outreach & Engagement

Light purple upcoming events graphic with a golden sunburst in the center.
[Light purple upcoming events graphic with a golden sunburst in the center.]


Free Hot Chocolate @ The FHG Library!

Monday, December 12
7:00pm - 10:00pm
Private Location (sign in to display)
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Stop by the Francis Harvey Green Library on December 12th & 13th, between 7 PM - 10 PM, for free hot chocolate! The hot chocolate bar will include all your favorite toppings! Marshmallows, chocolate syrup, caramel toppings, whipped cream, etc.! Stop by and destress at the FHG Library's 2nd-floor entrance.

See you there!



Decisions about Drinking workshop

Tuesday, December 20
10:30am - 12:00pm
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Decisions about Drinking is a workshop for all students to engage in learning about the impact of alcohol use on the brain and body, the individual and community impacts of alcohol use, as well as how to identify when and how to support a student who may need medical attention. This program includes several interactive activities for students to engage with their peers, in a judgment-free and fun space.



Voice your Values

Tuesday, December 20
1:00pm - 2:00pm
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Voice Your Values is a co-curricular workshop to aide you in further exploring one of the measurable pillars of well-being, purpose. Over the course of the workshop, we will discuss what is a value, how values influence decision-making, begin to identify our personal values, and conclude by exploring how values congruence connects to finding our purpose.



Bike Maintenance Workshop - FHG Library

Thursday, December 22
5:00pm - 6:00pm
Francis Harvey Green Library, 25 W Rosedale Ave, West Chester, PA 19382, United States
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Visit Us Every Thursday 5 PM - 6 PM @ The FHG Library!

Bike maintenance workshops are taking place at Francis Harvey Green around the back of our main entrance in the loading dock on Rosedale. Swing by to learn bicycle upkeep and care. Our excellent team also has more plans in the works, including a bike lending program and student employment opportunities!

You don't have to bring your own bike to these workshops.

We are excited to see you!


Light purple graphic with an illustration of a ballot box

[Light purple graphic with an illustration of a ballot box]


Navigating the United States Post-Roe Overturn

Edition 2: Midterm Election Effects on Reproductive Rights
Dana Pratt (She/They) 


Tuesday, November 8th began what many called “the most important election of our lives.” While that idea is entirely subjective, the stakes were high for me, a 20-year-old person with a uterus. Social media is flooded with predictions of an incoming “red wave,” and many of the candidates' platforms support nearly complete bans on reproductive healthcare. I called my mom the morning of the elections, hoping for some remnant of positivity among my anxiousness, and she simply shook her head. This was not the reassurance I was looking for. Although looking at estimations of voter polls, her dejection seemed… right? It appeared that something miraculous would have to happen for abortion rights to remain in PA, and this seemed to be the case in many other states. As I watched the news throughout the evening, results showed that many people had voted to restore or protect abortion rights, a surprising turn of events for what had been predicted before the election. Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Hawaii, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Kansas, Illinois, and Colorado all had big wins for pro-choice candidates as well as candidates that support gun reform and healthcare access. Across the U.S., however, people mourned the loss of candidates in Texas. After trigger laws had made abortion completely illegal in Texas, the midterm election could have restored some reproductive access if a pro-choice candidate won.
As results began to trickle in, it became clear that many voters’ choice of candidate depended on their views on abortion. Due to the overturn of Roe, each state now has the ability to create its own laws regarding abortion access, making this election an important one. I went to bed that night, unsure of what I would wake up to. In many states, both Democratic and Republican parties found themselves in nail-biting elections, unsure themselves of what the outcome would be. My roommate shook me awake at 3 am on Wednesday morning, excitedly sharing the news of Fetterman and Shapiro’s win. It allowed me to exhale, as both candidates ran pro-choice platforms, at least for the time being. 

In every state that held an election, abortion rights were on the line. How did this “Red Wave” not happen? How was research from pre-election polls so far off? For one, Gen Z voters are less likely to answer phone calls from numbers they don't recognize, which meant their voices were often not included in surveys before the election. Further, many people were undecided about their choice until the very end, lending more uncertainty about the results of the midterm election. 

Let’s take a look into the Midterm’s effect on abortion access: 

Abortion Access and The 2022 Midterm
An article by PBS, WHYY (2022), takes on this breakdown. 

  • Post-Roe Overturn, 12 states placed total bans on abortion
  • 5 states had abortion rights on the ballot this election:
    • California
    • Kentucky 
    • Michigan
    • Vermont
    • Montana
  • All 5 states voted to protect abortion access
  • 3 of those states codified abortion rights within their state constitution
    • California
    • Vermont
    • Michigan 
  • Kentucky: voted against state constitutional amendment that would say there was no protection for abortion rights
  • Montana: voted against making a fetus/infant a legal person 
    • Healthcare professionals felt that it would alter care for premature babies who would experience infant death
    • 52.5% voted no
    • 47.5% voted yes 

(How abortion rights swayed results in the midterm election | PBS NewsHour)

In terms of Senate and House control, it has just been confirmed that the Republican Party now has control of the House of Representatives. What does this mean for abortion rights? Republicans are reclaiming the majority in the House for the first time in 4 years. Obviously, this will affect Biden’s ability to pass legislation and will affect issues of abortion as well. This win means that they have subpoena power and scheduling power of which issues reach the House floor, and which do not. As for abortion rights specifically, while is no current-written agenda for the House and abortion rights or lack thereof, representatives who are anti-abortion have promised to bring national ban proposals to the house floor. 

As for the Senate, Democrats have won a Senate Majority 50-49 against Republicans. While they have won the majority, the much anticipated Georgia Runoff occurred Tuesday, December 6th. Raphael Warnock, a pro-choice candidate, won by nearly 3% against anti-choice candidate Herschel Walker.  A runoff election occurs when none of the candidates running receive the required percentage of votes. In Georgia, a candidate must hold 50% of the vote. Due to the closeness of the race in November, there was a Runoff election. Herschel Walker, a staunchly “pro-life” candidate, has recently come under fire by the media as two people who had been in previous relations with Walker have come forward admitting that he had paid for or pressured the two Jane Does into having abortions. Both women who have come forward did so to tell their truth, especially as Walker has been put on a podium by voters because of his “pro-life” beliefs. In the Georgia Runoff, voters could only pick from Warnock and Walker, guaranteeing that one nominee will receive 50% of the vote. 

Warnock’s win is important for abortion rights in Georgia, and the closeness of the results demonstrates the way in which views are split among Georgians. Runoff elections are riddled with problems, one being that voter fatigue can cause fewer voters to show up than they did on the first election day. Further, Runoff Elections hold a racist history. They were implemented in 1963 after Denmark Groover, a segregationist, lost the election in 1958, blaming his loss on Black voters. To this day, Runoff Elections are known to suppress Black and Brown voters as they already face disproportionate barriers when voting (What is a Runoff Election? | League of Women Voters)

In conclusion, there is importance in celebrating the wins across the United States of America that upheld people's right to make their own decisions about their reproductive choices, but there is still a long way to go Post-Roe overturn to move towards protection for all those who need and deserve it.  

A peach graphic with an image of an iceberg and a Norwegian flag

[A peach graphic with an image of an iceberg and a Norwegian flag]

Spending a Semester in Norway
Jocelyn Brown (she/her)


Click here for a photo album of my favorite moments from this semester!

This fall, I had the opportunity to intern at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway. They are responsible for facilitating everything around the Nobel Peace Prize. I would be working full-time at the Institute during the week while completing a couple of classes remotely. As soon as I got the offer, I asked our Associate Director, Lindsey, for advice on what to do. I really value my position at CWGE, and I wasn’t willing to give that up easily. Thankfully, we agreed that I could work remotely and plug in wherever I could. Which includes writing this newsletter right now! Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Zoom and Microsoft Teams are tools that keep us together in these trying times.  

After a few weeks of preparation, I flew out by myself in late September. Traveling alone and living alone for the first time were definitely my biggest mental blocks. I just left North America for the first time this summer on two study abroad classes, and now you’re telling me I have to do it again, but this time, without any support? At the beginning of my journey to Norway, falsely-triggered fire alarm blared in Newark for 30 minutes, and I immediately got on the wrong train from the Oslo airport, but hey, we can only go up from here. And thankfully, it did!

Oslo is a small, safe, and clean city, which is perfect for me, a relative country bumpkin from a town of less than 2,000. A Norweigian exchange student assured me that no one would bother you walking down the street, and of course, there is a much better socialized support system overall. Besides the initial airport train incident, I am extremely proud to say that I have never gotten lost. Most people who know me will not believe that statement, but I promise it’s true. One of my goals was to make new friends while in Norway because I really enjoy meeting new people. I am proud to say that was also a success, as I quickly made a friend group of expats and Norwegians alike. We’ve had pub trivia on Tuesdays, craft circles, study sessions, and holiday parties. As this article comes out, I will be leading the paper snowflake workshop at our Christmas party. While leaving them makes leaving Norway even harder, I take comfort in the fact that I will definitely be back. The only question is in which country we decide to get together again first. Knowing my Spanish friends, probably somewhere warmer.  

Working full-time has definitely been interesting. Admittedly, I have never been an early riser and probably never will be. It also sucks that the sun goes down as soon as we get out of work. But of course, it’s still an incredible opportunity that has opened my eyes as to what the future can look like. The Institute is a small team with a lot of history. I enjoy getting to know everyone, trying the baked goods they bring in, popping champagne with them, and petting their dogs every day. Because it is such a small team, I fill in wherever I’m needed. But my main responsibilities consist of research and logistics for the Peace Prize Forum, digitizing library archives, and running the social media—shameless promotion, follow us on Instagram at @thenobelinstitute. In particular, I was really pleased that the theme for this year’s Forum is Afghanistan: Finding a way forward, which is a topic I dedicated most of my junior year to. This year’s Peace Prize laureates are Ales Bialiatski and two organizations, Memorial and Center for Civil Liberties. They represent the power of Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian civil society respectively. Institute employees do not know who received the prize ahead of time, so I found out with the rest of the world, although I did get to be in the announcement room with the press. 

Other than my internship, I spend my weekends visiting locations around Oslo for my Honors capstone. My capstone project is to help redesign Honors’s Norway study abroad class for May 2024, since we were supposed to go in May 2020, and that was canceled for… obvious reasons. Reviewing museums, historical/cultural locations, restaurants, and other fun/educational activities around Oslo has definitely helped me structure my time and get over my fear of going places alone. What I’ve learned through CWGE has also impacted how I approach building this class. There needs to be space for justice and inclusivity in all of the class content and activities on the trip itself that we choose. Norway’s museums have definitely been a standout in how they integrate identity into their exhibits. You can look at the statues in Vigeland Park and just think that they’re odd—which some of them are, sorry art people—but the Vigeland Museum explains how Gustav Vigeland was interested in exploring masculinity’s impact on the power dynamics in relationships, for example. Rose Castle, one of my favorites, is an outdoor art museum dedicated to democracy. It tells the story of Norway’s occupation during World War II with special attention to those stories that are most often forgotten. One of the paintings/descriptions that really moved me was about the German soldiers and Norwegian men who would meet in secret, as homosexuality was illegal in both countries. 

Overall, I have really enjoyed my time getting to know Norway on multiple fronts. I think readjusting to campus next semester will be a struggle, but I know I can rely on CWGE to help me through it. I also wanted to extend a few pieces of advice to anyone else who will or want to complete an exchange semester. Of course, everyone’s experience will look very different, but maybe something from my experience will help you. 

  • I love school and thrive off of academic validation, but yes, study is going to be the worst part of study abroad. I made it fun for myself by studying with friends or trying new cafes and libraries around the city, so at least I was still seeing more of Oslo in the process. 
  • I made new friends by researching what apps are the most popular in Norway and connecting that way. For example, the app Meetup had hiking/other hobby groups and events for expats in Oslo.
  • Prioritize your sanity and safety! Norway has no COVID-19 restrictions anymore, so it was up to me to decide how and when I felt the safest. 
  • For me, feeling connected to campus was easy in some communities and extremely difficult in others. Unfortunately, digital communication like email is very overwhelming and easily lost. Set communication expectations and boundaries before you leave!
  • I am admittedly an anxious person, and like I said before, I had to learn how to be alone. My mantra became: it is okay to act like a tourist, because you are one, and no one is watching you. A few embarrassing situations later, I’m still here.


[A light pink graphic with an illustration of a pair of roller skates]

The Fine Art of Being Bad At Something 

Catherine Conroy She/Her

There’s a strange phenomenon in the university art world that occurs particularly in the ceramic studios.  During enrollment, classes that teach wheel-thrown pottery techniques fill up almost instantly every semester.  A potter is set at every wheel with clay in front of them and stays for the duration of the class. But by the end of the fourth week, stools are empty and only a few dedicated art people remain. With the gentle grace of the add/drop period withered away, those seats go wasted, and advisors, professors, and department heads are frustrated. I am not here to write for the teachers. 

I am here for the students whose relationship with perfection has deprived them of new experiences.

 I am here for the people who are bad at things. I am one of you. The reality is at some time or another, every person is. 

The concept of prodigy has done a number on our education system. Beyond just the on-going academic based anxiety our education has and continues to produce, I believe the emphasis on potential rather than practice has deprived young people of their drive to learn new things. In school we are taught to stick with a skill set, and we are actively pushed from the state of natural curiosity and even anxiousness when being out of our element. 

One example I am sure many students are familiar with, is the idea that people are either good at math or good at english. When encountering  challenges in one of the two subject areas they are reassured of their intelligence by pointing to areas they excel in faster at first. While they may exhibit accelerated growth in the area they have potential in, they are permitted to use that as a reason to shy away from the more challenging aspect of the subject they are lacking confidence in. This creates “Math People” and “English People” and it harms both sides of the equation, as both are pushed back into their comfort zone, and given reasoning to stay there. In a lot of ways it's not just the fear of being wrong that keeps students from trying new things, but the comfort in being correct. 

There is a harm in this redirection as it does not  allow students to build a tolerance for sitting with lapses in natural talent. Natural talent should be a nice enticement to continue something, rather than the marker that a task is worthy to pursue. This, in turn, deprives learners in all settings to see the value in deliberate and  meditative practice, or the process of repetitive actions that seek only improvement in a given skill. 

As a result many students today present a lower tolerance for not understanding something. This is unfortunate  because there is a real sense of freedom that can be gained when people are able to let go of perfectionism and enjoy the process of doing something over the end result. 

Now while this can be considered a universal experience across academia, this perfectionism shows a particular bias towards women and especially women of color. Implicit gender bias in educators, often tell teachers to comfort female students in their inability, but to instead push male students through their inability. This practice allows male students to develop a comfort with being wrong, and to not associate with self worth. Female students are not as lucky and tend more often to develop mindsets that avoid initial challenges in favor of feeling confident in each step. 

There are many ways one can combat this obstacle to giving oneself back their natural curiosity.  On the other side of this challenge,  awaits a love for the process and wealth of opportunities for happiness. I can tell you right now I can’t undo or solve this systematic issue in this piece of writing, but if it resonates with you, I want you to know that you are not alone and I have some tips that have helped me and may help you relish in your inabilities.

Strap on Roller Skates. These can be literal or metaphorical skates. But do something that you know will shake you and throw you off balance . Then do this again and again. Lean into those imbalances, that feeling you are falling, and know that you are breaking through your comfort zone. You are giving yourself back the chance to do something just to do it. Not to show it off, not to put it on a resume, but you're doing it because it brings joy to you, enriches your existence, and proves to you that you can. 

Once you do that you are half-way there. You might not fall in love with practicing your first go around, but it's something. It's an act of defiance, and everyone deserves to feel okay just trying something out. I can’t say the practice will make you especially better either, this world is full of broken pots. However, once you internalize you don’t have to be good at something to start, anything you want to become better at gains a starting point. 

So go slam a razor scooter into your ankle
Write a Haiku with the wrong letter syllables
And fall off your roller-skates 

It's a fine art you won’t be good at at first, but like I said, the first step is being bad. 

Third Annual Gender Justice Conference Logo


Third Annual Gender Justice Conference

Wednesday, March 29, 2023
10:00am - 8:00pm
Private Location (register to display)
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The Center for Women & Gender Equity would like to invite you to partner in the planning of our Third Annual Gender Justice Conference.

We intentionally plan to host this conference at the end of Women's History Month and just before the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the hopes of unifying our office's goals of addressing gender-based oppression and centering joy and liberation for all. In 2021, the First Annual Gender Justice Conference was thematically organized around the groundbreaking research published in Sexual Citizens by Dr. Jennifer S. Hirsch and Dr. Shamus Khan, which examined the ways that identity and power influenced the sexual lives and vulnerabilities to harm of college students. In 2022, the Second Annual Gender Justice Conference was crafted around concepts of self-authorship and narrative building as social change work and featured a talk from New York Times Bestselling Author Chloe Gong and a keynote from Ericka Hart (pronouns: she/they), a black queer femme activist, writer, highly acclaimed speaker, and award-winning sexuality educator on the concept of radical sex positivity.

This year we would like to build on the learning we embarked on with our previous two conferences and imagine what it means to engage in social change work while continuing to manage the consequences of COVID-19, mounting systemic inequities, and legislative challenges to bodily autonomy. Our hope for the 2023 conference is to continue to examine the ways that all oppressions are intrinsically linked and work to co-create an environment where transformative justice is possible, where everyone's safety is secured, and where everyone finds a space of connection and belonging.