The idea of a woman president invokes many different responses and emotions. The students in Associate Professor Betty Bayer's senior seminar tackled the question of what they'd do if they woke up tomorrow and a woman was president. The women's studies majors became so enthused by that class discussion that they felt it would be beneficial to extend the question to the rest of the Hobart and William Smith community.
Consequently, the class decided that the most interesting way to present this question to the community and receive honest answers was to create a means for people to anonymously write their thoughts. A giant area was created using blank, white paper with the unfinished sentence boldly positioned at the top. Markers were attached to the paper, allowing students and staff to express their thoughts and emotions and create a mural in the process. Collectively, the class decided that the best place to put up their project was the library atrium because it is one of the most highly trafficked locations on campus.
Seminar member Melinda Hoyt explains how this massive project started: “We really came up with the idea as a collective because we were interested in and had been researching the history of women in politics. Our ultimate goal is that we want to raise awareness and thought it would be extremely interesting to involve our campus community in our seminar.”
Taking a few quiet minutes to read over the colorful array of reflections, a definite trend to specifically talk about Sen. Hillary Clinton versus a woman as president in general arises. According to Hoyt, this question “was never specifically about Hillary, just the idea of a woman as a president. We posed this as a politically neutral question but this did arise due to all the current media attention surrounding Sen. Clinton.” The results have been incredibly diverse and range from “would jump up and down and celebrate” to “move to Australia or Canada!”
Another very interesting trend that developed on the oversized white paper was that people were commenting on other’s responses. The mural became a visual jumble of Blackboard discussion threads for all the HWS community to see.
After seeing the attention the project earned, Hoyt hopes other groups will pose their own questions.