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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Women’s History Month at Wofford

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By: Emily Washburn, senior writer

Women’s History Month has not been established for as long as one might think. It wasn’t until 1987 that the month of March was declared “Women’s History Month” after the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress, eventually convincing them to pass Pub. L. 100-9.

Since 1995, March has been recognized and proclaimed Women’s History Month by Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump. The purpose of the month is to “commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.”

Although Women’s History Month was established in the late 1980s across the United States, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that it was promoted and celebrated at Wofford College. Women’s History Month at Wofford was originally a student initiative with faculty participating only as advisers.

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Dr. Sally Hitchmough, professor of English and program coordinator of gender studies, recalled that Meghan Audette ’00 was the student who originally approached the faculty with the idea of celebrating Women’s History Month on-campus. The inaugural Women’s History Month at Wofford included inviting speakers to campus, panels and one-act student plays about women’s experiences.

The play, “The Vagina Monologues,” used to be a Wofford tradition for Women’s History Month. This play by Eve Ensler was a popular production performed each year, since it consists of short, episodic monologues read aloud by varying female voices. It was one of the prominent events of the month and spoke loudly to the numerous injustices women have faced collectively throughout history.

“Women’s History Month, along with gender studies in general, provides a basis for students to question their own assumptions about gender roles. I believe this month is about empowerment, so students should be the ones to lead it,” Dr. Hitchmough said.

However, this theatrical tradition, along with Women’s History Month, lost direction for a few years in 2009. It wasn’t until 2012 when Dr. Beate Brunow, a professor of Modern Languages, approached Dr. Carey Voeller, a professor of English, asking him to help her re-establish the Women’s History Month events and celebration. They gathered a small group of students and posed ideas for events for the month. Over time, the group increasingly grew and eventually students became more interested, until they took over completely, now only needing the faculty to advise.

“It’s great to see the students take over because they’re able to find more of the things that matter and are important to them,” Dr. Voeller said.

Currently, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion works with various organizations on campus to organize speakers and events for the celebration of Women’s History Month. These organizations, such as the Gender Equality Committee, Muslim Student Association, Wofford Activities Council, Women’s lacrosse and many more, are signed up to sponsor events this month. A full list of events can be found at http://calendar.wofford.edu/webevent/scripts/webevent.plx. Similarly, more information on the history of the national celebration can be found at https://womenshistorymonth.gov/.

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