To unite University of Dayton women of different cultural and social backgrounds, the student organization Women of Remarkable Distinction has been working for the past two years to foster the well-being of the female spirit.
Lauren Porter, a senior women and gender studies major, began the club in 2010 after taking a women and religion course.
“The topic matter fascinated me and the more I learned, the more I realized what an intense passion I had for women and gender studies,” Porter said. “Right after class, I moved to make WGS my major and began asking around about the process to begin an organization. I felt as though the campus needed an organization that could unite women of all different backgrounds to not only serve as resource to each other through networking.”
With a growing international population on campus, Porter said it is important to spread awareness on campus about all women’s issues through service, leadership and awareness.
Initially, the group had eight to 10 members but it has now grown to about 21 members, Porter said.
For the members, Porter said WORD provides an opportunity to interact with students of different majors and backgrounds while spreading awareness about women’s issues.
Leslie Picca, a sociology professor, was approached by the group this semester to serve as their faculty adviser. An opportunity to give a voice to the underrepresented on campus encouraged Picca to join the group, she said. While the group encourages advocacy for women, Picca said WORD is open to all students on campus interested in cultivating relationships with those of different backgrounds.
“My involvement in this group is two-fold: I think it’s good to support students on this campus, underrepresented groups that may feel marginalized,” Picca said. “We are a predominantly white institution and I think it would benefit all UD students to get diverse voices out into broader conversation.”
During meetings, the group strived to create conversation about issues including Planned Parenthood, woman’s pay in the work force, abortion and gender roles, which were talked about during meetings, Porter said.
“Upcoming meetings will now be planning based in nature,” Porter said. “Our service program has begun…and next semester is our heavy programming semester, as during Women’s History Month in March we host a week of programs geared toward our mission. It requires a lot of work.”
Picca said the group is hoping to get involved with Consciousness Rising in March. Along with that event, Porter said WORD Week will be a main event next semester.
“[The week] will consist of programming intended to not only raise awareness about different issues, but also provide an opportunity for social interaction,” Porter said. “Programs will include service, a night of facials, a women’s history trivia night and more.”
For Picca, WORD strives to encourage more proactivity on campus.
“UD is very good at reacting to incidents once they come up,” Picca said. “But we need to get more proactive about these situations, bring more folks to the table and being authentic when we talk about community here.”
For more information on WORD, follow them on Twitter at @WORD_UD.