In light of Women’s History Month, women around campus spoke on their experience at Brooklyn College, expressing their thoughts on social scenes, classroom atmosphere and campus life from the perspective of the fairer sex.
“Being a female has not limited me,” said Shanelle Hudson, a psychology major. “It’s been a positive part of my experience on campus. I think the LGBT community, the Women’s Health Center, and the overall feeling of security on campus has been what’s kept anyone from feeling the opposite.”
Brooklyn College has earned itself an admirable reputation in not only gender equality, but catering to women’s needs through an office called the Women’s Center in Ingersoll Hall, which helps provide students with solving individual social or health problems and raises awareness on women’s issues, according to students.
“I think because this is an educational environment, everybody stays polite,” said Irsa Shahzadi, a psychology major. “It’s not vulgar like you’d see at a train station, catcalling and everything. I’ve never felt mistreated or uncomfortable being a woman on campus.”
While most women have felt comfortable and secure on campus, there are still those that have struggled with issues and feel more awareness could benefit the student population.
“When certain situations of sexual misconduct happen on campus, it’s widely swept under the rug. Not by the school, but by fellow students,” said Akimah Etienne, a voice performance major. “It made me out to be a bad guy amongst my circle, and maybe that’s just an issue within my circle, but it’s something the campus should talk about. I never expected something that bad could happen at Brooklyn College, but it did and could happen to anyone.”
According to students, the responsibility of awareness on women’s issues should not come from administration, but the students themselves.
“The Women’s Center is great, all the women are empowering there,” said Etienne. “Administration is doing the best they can, but it’s issues like this that students should be aware of and talking about.”
Some women have had experiences on campus that also parallel gender inequality in the workforce, in social environments and even households. An example of this recurring and sometimes common experience is a woman not being given as much attention as a male.
“At times as a woman, it is difficult to get my point across while having everyone’s attention,” said Selena Mendez, a biology major. “You can see female students are often chosen less to participate compared to male students, especially when the professor is a male himself.”
Despite these everyday advantages and disadvantages of being a woman on campus, sometimes life’s circumstances can play an even larger role. Saskia Newton is a student, journalism major, and more importantly, a proud mother to her two-year-old daughter.
“It’s extremely hard and I’m still trying to find that balance,” said Newton. “It all has to do with prioritizing and not taking on more than I could bear.”
Newton was three months pregnant when she graduated from community college with an associate’s degree before eventually landing at Brooklyn College.
“I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I could still do those five courses and manage’,” said Newton. “Having a baby and being in school is hard. But, I’m doing it now.”
The diverse experiences for the women of Brooklyn College are a reflection of the diversity of the campus itself. While some women applaud the services offered and respectful etiquette from fellow students, some still believe there is work to be done. One common theme hasn’t strayed far from this discourse, in the words of Akimah Etienne, “The women are all beautiful at Brooklyn College.”