Libby Nutt Williams
Student Groups and Volunteer Opportunities
Related to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
WGSX LLC (Living Learning Center)
The Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Living Learning Center (commonly known as WGSX House) is themed housing on campus that organizes activities and promotes discussion centered on gender, feminist, and sexual issues on campus. Within the house, members try and abide by safer space rules that are sensitive to the issues of sexual assault and gender and sexual identity. In terms of the larger community, members organize on (and occasionally off) campus events that bring students together to work on these issues. These activities range from the personal, like discussion groups and potlucks, to the more political, such as organizing groups to go up to DC for a march. The house is a place for people to come together to discuss issues from their WGSX classes, mull over issues in their own lives, and make connections between the two. Students in the house will receive one credit for each semester they live there and successfully meet household expectations. Students of all genders and sexual orientations are encouraged to apply.
Students have formed a number of clubs dedicated to gender and sexuality issues over the years. Sometime in the 1980s, students and faculty created the group Women Advocates for Gender Equality (WAGE), which became a student-run chapter of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) in 1998 and subsequently (2004) Feminists United for Sexual Equality (FUSE). This group has propelled a tremendous amount of nonstop programming on campus. Included among its activities are weekly meetings, numerous presences on and off campus as activists, workshops on sexual harassment and other topics in gender and sexuality, Love Your Body Day, the annual production of The Vagina Monologues, the publication of Underwire: Annual Journal of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and occasional sponsorships of films and guest performers.
The St. Mary's Triangle and Rainbow Society (STARS) has been an active club on the SMCM campus since 1993. The club has served as a resource for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied community (LGBTQA), and its members have been actively involved both on and off-campus on behalf of LGBTQA issues and concerns. STARS has hosted National Coming Out Day, and event which encourages everyone to "come out"-as gay, straight, or simply sexual; has sponsored National Day of Silence, in which participants are encouraged to think about members of the LGBTQA community who have been silenced by ignorance or violence; has participated in local conferences (like Gender PAC's National Conference on Gender in Washington, DC); and has worked tirelessly on behalf of domestic partner benefits locally and regionally. Four members of STARS made up the WGSX LLC in 2003-2004.
The Vagina Monologues
Since 2002, FUSE has staged annual Valentines Day performances of Eve Ensler's hit play, The Vagina Monologues. Each year women from the campus community come together to spread the good word-vagina-with poignant and funny monologues, including "My Angry Vagina", "My Vagina was My Village," "Hair," "Because He Liked to Look at It," and "The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy." The benefit production has quickly become one of campus' most anticipated and uproarious traditions, raising thousands of dollars for a local domestic violence legal aid service. The show is performed in conjunction with the V-Day campaign, an international movement to end violence against women.
"Transcending Boundaries: An Interdisciplinary Conference in Gender Studies"
Each Spring, members of FUSE, and other interested students help organize a one-day academic conference in gender studies on the SMCM campus. The aim of the conference is to provide an opportunity, especially for undergraduate students, to share their work in gender studies (including St. Mary's Projects) and to explore the work of their peers as well as that of professors and graduate students. Organized into sessions and panel discussions-similar to any professional academic conference- the gender conference has included such diverse presentations as "The Self-Portraiture of Narcissus: A Queer Analysis of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorain Gray (Dan Williford, '03); "I Think Your Chariot's Sexy: An Analysis of Self-Presentation of Sexuality in Early Roman Emperors" (Patrick McConnell, '05); "One Cowboy's Power Package is Another Super Mom's Desire: The Gendered, Sexed, and Sexualized Subject in Contemporary Advertising" (Kristin Effland, '02); "Different Ways of Speaking: The Expression of Japanese Women in Art and Literature" (Teresa Houk, '01); and "Sexual Assault Response and Prevention at St. Mary's College of Maryland" (Megan Gabriel, '04). Watch for calls for papers, presentations, and panel discussions.
Underwire: Annual Journal of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Established in 2000, Underwire is published annually by members of FUSE, and other students interested in sharing their work on issues of women, gender, and sexuality. The journal includes essays, articles of an academic nature, poetry, photography, and artwork by students, faculty, and staff.