Women's History Month Kick-Off in the Campus Center

IUPUI welcomed March with live music in the campus center atrium and sweet treats as an offering of solace for the rainy Tuesday. Booths proclaimed the celebration of womanhood and the start of Women’s History Month.

Offices on campus promoted themselves and their upcoming events at the kick-off. Multicultural sororities – Gamma Phi Omega and Delta Sigma Theta – championed their sisterhood and the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health offered free health screenings. Discussions spanned across the board, from promoting equality and learning how to protect fertility to the importance of strengthening the fellow woman.   

After more than an hour had passed and few students had shown up to the event, coordinator Karina Garduno pulled out the cupcakes. Unfortunately, since so much takes place in the campus center atrium, students tend to overlook what’s going on. In spite of the lack of attendance, Garduno made it clear that this is still an important event to host annually due to the awareness it raises on issues women still face today.

According to a recent Time article titled, “This is How March Became Women’s History Month,” the 31-day remembrance of women’s historic contributions to society used to be a one-day observance. After an organization in California decided to celebrate “Women’s History Week” to increase female presence in school curriculum, the idea took hold across the country.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared March 2-8 to be the first national Women’s History Week. The concept grew and within no time had lengthened the entire month. Now, the National Women’s History Project declares an annual theme. This year’s is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”

Perhaps a campus nestled in the heart of a city will always be an ideal place to watch public service and government collide. And it has been, thanks to the onset of women’s studies at IUPUI in 1979. Penny Saltsman advocated for the department at the event on Tuesday with, “Women’s studies fills in all the gaps of everything we take for granted in womanhood.” This interdisciplinary major, Saltsman explained, expands the conversation on all types of women’s issues.

Corinne Patterson with the Office of Student Involvement at IUPUI also added to Saltsman’s words.

“Women don’t typically see themselves as leaders… Our job is to teach them how to own their potential and make a change,” she said.

Patterson went on to explain that women have a difficult time entering into a leadership position with a title that makes them sound like a leader – president, vice president, group advocate, editor-in-chief. Often, women will enter into those types of roles if the titles are less obvious.  

The answer it seems, is encouragement.

Another booth, the Women in Science House at the Riverwalk Apartments, disclosed they work by building one another up through community. Their purpose is to commission women back into the belief that they are full of limitless potential. Within the household, women have the opportunity to hold positions on an executive board, mentor residents and embolden one another to thrive in a predominantly male field.

Just as many things in this country, the place where women stand today was fought for. Let this be the March we embrace it.