University News

WPCs plan Wednesday programs

Contributing Writer
Friday, October 8, 2010

This Wednesday, the Women Peer Counselors held the fourth annual Strong Sexy Words, a semi-open mic and the kick-off event to the semester-long “W Wednesday” program.

Strong Sexy Words featured spoken word performances, as well as dance acts, addressing the themes the WPC program extols, such as strong body image and female empowerment. The W Wednesday program aims to continue exploring these themes throughout the semester.

W Wednesdays are what WPC Representative Reed McNab ’12 described as the “activism component” of the WPC program. Each event in the series of programs, which will run through October and November, will be planned by a different group of WPCs.

Two of the Strong Sexy Words organizers, Katie Grayson ’13 and Leigh Carroll ’12, a Herald contributing writer, shared the consensus that they felt “really good” about how the night went. Grayson added that she “felt so inspired by everyone,” especially after seeing a freshman from her Perkins Hall unit, Cia Mathew ’14, perform.

The event also featured a bake sale to raise money for the Women’s Center of Rhode Island, a nonprofit organization that helps female and children victims of domestic abuse, according to WPC Sheryl-vi Rico ’13, who planned the event with Grayson, Carroll and Sotonye Bobojama ’12.

By the end of the night, Rico estimated that sales of the baked goods and donations had raised about $70 for the charity.

The 90 or so audience members also seemed to enjoy the event.

Steph Yin ’12 said events like Strong Sexy Words “reminded you of how talented and graceful your fellow classmates are.”

Grace Dunham ’14 said she was happy that the issues “seemed important to everyone” at the event. But, she said, “I think they could do more to make men feel welcome.”

While the WPCs advocate female empowerment, Carroll said events like Wednesday’s are “open to anyone and everyone.” McNab agreed, explaining that WPCs try to plan events that will interest a lot of people.

WPC Representative Natalie Serrino ’12 said the counselors are resources for a wide variety of issues — gender, sexism, sexuality, safer sex, body image, LBGTQ and assertiveness — but there has been confusion in the past about the roles of the WPCs. Serrino and McNab see W Wednesdays as an opportunity to raise awareness for the WPC program and the issues it covers.

The W Wednesday program is a variation on the traditional fall program, W Week. “W Week is good because everyone gets revved up for one week,” but spreading the events across the semester will allow for continued awareness, Serrino said. Spacing out the events will hopefully increase attendance, and will allow the WPCs to support each other at the events, she said.

Future events include Body Talk, a body image workshop Oct. 13; Bold, Colorful Women of Brown, an Oct. 20 dinner with faculty women of color geared toward first-year students; a Religion and Sexuality workshop Oct. 27 and a self-defense workshop with Department of Public Safety Manager of Special Services Michelle Nuey on Nov. 11.

A Nov. 3 Sex Power God panel featuring a health education representative, the Sex Power God planner and two students who have attended — one who enjoyed the experience and one who did not — will explore the curiosity associated with the controversial event and help students decide if attending is the right decision for them.

The last event, Going Home Again, is scheduled for Nov. 17. McNab explained, “A lot of people have found that they come out at Brown” and with the Thanksgiving holiday impending, need to figure out how to come out to their family.

In addition to revamping their fall program, Serrino said that WPCs came a day early to Residential Peer Leader training in August. As a result, this year’s WPCs “seem really in sync in terms of their view of the community and the role of a WPC,” she said.

This year, the WPCs are grouped together by region, and each group of three or four counselors has a WPC Friend — similar to the Minority Peer Counselor Friend program — which helps to build community support. By combining into larger groups, the WPCs can tackle bigger issues and create more innovative programs.

Having participated in the program last year as WPCs, the two representatives “wanted to make sure that it continued to stand for something ,” McNab said. “I loved then, and I love now, being a WPC and what it stands for.”

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