Exposing Inequalities – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Exposing Inequalities

Women's Studies Senior Seminar explores the coordinate system

Following in the footsteps (if not the furry masks) of the Guerrilla Girls, women from the 2008 Women's Studies Senior Seminar have unleashed a highly visible educational campaign, papering the campus with posters.

Designed to encourage discussion and debate as well as expose gender equalities that are often overlooked, the posters publically question what it means to attend a coordinate institution in the 21st century and take a closer look at various aspects of life at HWS.

“Visibility is our ultimate goal and the key to spreading recognition to the campus community,” says Melinda Hoyt '08, one of the campaign's creators.

Since December 2007, the William Smith students responsible for the campaign, junior Amy Nadel and seniors Tiffany Bennett, Amanda Nann, Abigail Slowik and Hoyt, have coordinated with several administrative offices to collect current data about the differences between Hobart and William Smith students and created the posters based on their research.

The posters, displayed prominently around campus, focus on inequalities at HWS in the areas of academics, financial aid, gendered healthcare and athletics. The women hope that their campaign provokes conversation among Hobart and William Smith students.

Bennett has made an effort to extend the dialogue into the future, working with Alumni House to communicate with the incoming William Smith Class of 2012 about the coordinate system and its benefits. “Our schools are unique, and we want their special characteristics to be known and considered, rather than hidden or overlooked,” she explains.

The project, a capstone for the five Women's Studies majors, has had a significant impact on its creators, who have gained a new outlook on the pursuit of knowledge. “One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is that information is not passive; students must question and challenge the status quo, even in the face of resistance, in order to better recognize and appreciate what we have: a college full of vibrant, intelligent, determined, passionate women,” says Slowik.

If you're interested in continuing the discourse about gender inequalities on campus, the women have erected a graffiti wall in the library atrium and encourage everyone to broach the topic in everyday conversations with friends and colleagues.