Going back to Dawson after graduating last Spring was an experience: I had spent two years there, furthering my education, making new friends and keeping up with school life by attending student-run events and, at one point, even curating and co-running one. Being at Dawson again reminded me the sense of community, despite there being close to 10, 000 students, and the activism present in so many forms.
As a student in the Arts and Culture profile of Arts, Literature and Communications, I was curator and organizer for my class’ end-of-semester gala event to showcase the projects we had worked on throughout the semester. I know the stress and the struggles that came with organizing such an event. With that being said, I applaud the students and faculty that organized the Women’s Week events. They came together to create a space where women could feel empowered, and to remind us all that we have a voice and a place in the world as strong leaders and innovators.
As a journalism student at Concordia University, one assignment was to photograph an event. The Women’s Week at Dawson popped up on my Facebook feed as an event I might be interested in and I realized it would be the perfect event for my assignment, so my partner Erica and I headed over and we were not disappointed. The event was held over three days but we went for one afternoon.
There was constant flow of students throughout Conrod’s and, although we were only there for a short time, we got a great sense of unity and solidarity from students of all genders stopping by to get informed and participating in the event by purchasing a pin or a screen-printed t-shirt.
For our assignment, we were all over the place, taking pictures on chairs, crouching down on the floor, close up to what was going on at the various booths and capturing people’s expressions during different parts of the event. Asking people about their experiences and what the event meant to them was another aspect and their answers did not disappoint; there was not one student present that was not impacted by the event and what it represents.
Many of the students we asked had personal experiences with issues relating to clothing shaming or sexual harassment, either directly or through of someone they knew. Hearing their points of view really impacted me. It’s events like this, where everyone comes together to support a common cause or to defend an important issue in society, that make me proud to be a Dawson alumni. These students are vocal and persistent with demanding change in a society where, sometimes, there is no space for opposition or redress.
Personally, attending even just one small part of a day during Women’s Week-which happened to be International Women’s Day-was so amazing to experience. I felt fully supported by everyone who organized the event, the women who it was in support of, the men who showed up in solidarity of their peers. Dawson never fails to feel inclusive and proactive, even being away for so long.
All day, I had seen and shared my own inspirational pictures and posters on social media, but being present in a room full of young, inspired students, ready to make a change in the conversations surrounding women and empowerment, was another experience all together. The future is full of female empowerment, and Dawson’s Women’s Week was just a small, but important part of the empowerment revolution, and I am grateful for it.
I have never been one to celebrate International Women’s Day with other people, or at all for the matter. On the odd year that I did pay attention to what used to be just another day on my calendar, I have always simply celebrated within myself, and reflected upon the day, thinking about all of the incredible and powerful women like Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, and Amelia Earhart, among many others, who have acted as female revolutionaries, changing the course of history itself, acting as an example for women of their generation and women of future generations.
This year, my situation was slightly different. As Kayla-Marie mentioned, one of our assignments in our multimedia class, our professor instructed that we create a ten-image photo gallery, capturing a local event. After our initial plan fell through, Kayla had remembered that Dawson was holding an event in honour of International Women’s Day;. That was our plan B. Our solution to an easy A: Snap some pictures of students who probably want nothing to do with Women’s Day, who were only there because their teacher warned them that it would count towards their participation grade. And though I am no longer a Dawson student, I now realize that, just like those students, I was there not because I wanted to be, but because I had to be.
Now that I am a graduate of Dawson, proudly so, and attending Concordia University studying Journalism, thinking back to my time when I was a student, not once in the two years I attended Dawson did I ever attend a student-run event, or any at all for that matter. Maybe it was partly due to my lack of interest, or I could simply blame it on timing, but needless to say the reason, this would be the first event I would be attending, and I was not even a student.
The short amount of time I spent at the event was more than enough time to leave a lasting impression, showing me what I had missed in those two years. Not only was I genuinely impressed by the amount of effort, care, and consideration put into the event, but was especially blown away by how supportive the students and faculty members were, and in awe at how many people showed up to celebrate women! Seeing how people of all genders, ages, and races come together to support a day dedicated to women, personally left me feeling supported and appreciated. But mostly, it made me realize how important it is to celebrate International Women’s Day, and to do it with other people. Being alone is fine but being with other women and people who support women is especially empowering and genuinely elevates the experience as well as the day itself.
I just want to thank those students who organized the event. Whether you know it or not, what you did and hopefully will continue to do, does have an effect on people. You have the power to educate, inspire, and bring people together, which you most certainly achieved through your hard work and passion. I can absolutely attest to this on a first-hand basis. Thank you for creating a moving event that brought all people together to celebrate the awesomeness of women.