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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Campus Women’s Groups Connect

Chancellor Keith Motley all but apologized for having a Y-chromosome as female leaders from student organizations and administrative offices infiltrated the Chancellor’s Conference room last Wednesday. The event, an informal reception held by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, sought to promote connections between the two groups of women on campus. In addressing the group. Dr. Motley joked that whether he was allowed or not, he had planned to attend the gathering. “It’s an energizing thing to look around and see all of the talent, all of the brilliance, all of just the wonderful leadership on this campus that is exhibited on the campus everyday,” he said. Carol Hardy-Fanta, director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, said that the event grew out of the Center’s realization that women on UMass Boston’s campus account for many of the leadership roles in student organizations. “Two years ago we noticed that …more than half were really being run by women students,” she said. “We thought it was time to have an event for them. They said that this was the first time that anybody ever said that as women their being in these leadership positions matter for something. They weren’t just working in isolation.” The gathering marked the third time the center has brought student leaders together. It is their first effort to integrate female administrators as well. “This year we’re not only bringing student women leaders together, but we’re also bringing leaders in administration,” said Cheri Selby, assistant to the director of the Center for Women and Public Policy. “So that these student leaders get to mix and mingle in an informal setting …and kind of network, get to know each other and figure out where their resources are. Sometimes students can be a better resource to the administrators that they are to them.” Fanta added that it was not too long ago that men dominated these positions of power and leadership, and many universities do not have female leadership equitable to that of UMass Boston.

“Many of the highest level positions below the chancellor are held by women. The [office of] administration and finance, which is often typically a man’s thing, several of the new deans are women, and we think that the contributions of women at the highest level of the university is an important achievement with women, and it is important to connect women who are leaders in those positions with women student leaders,” said Fanta. The Center for Women In Politics and Public Policy extended invitations to women in each student organization on campus, with representatives from the Black Student Center, The Women’s Center, and the Undergraduate Student Senate were among those in attendance.

“It would be very nice if women who have achieved high positions of leadership on campus would see themselves as potential mentors,” Fanta said. “And if students would feel empowered to come to them and say, ‘I’m eager to be where you are at some point and can I ask you questions, and can we talk?’ That’s part of our mission to promote leadership.”

Cierra Burnett, assistant coordinator of the Women’s Center, was one the students in attendance. “I spoke with [Dr. Barbara Lewis] from the Trotter Center and we’re collaborating with the Black Student Union to make the campus more diverse, especially the Honors Program,” she said. “I’m glad I came.”

“You get to make connections you would not normally make when you’re walking around on campus,” added Kerlyne Cotard of the Black Student Center. “We have more contacts now that will help fund some events that we will do in our future.”

“Unfortunately, my two favorite women leaders aren’t here yet…[Vice Chancellor of Enrollment] Kathy Teehan and [Vice Chancellor of Finance] Ellen O’Connor,” said Student Senator Eliza Wilson.Jain Rudivich-Higgins, director of Student Life and former assistant director of the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy, said she was very pleased with the turnout. “There are graduate students here, there are undergraduate students here,” she added, adding that the event is an extension of the greater mission of the Center. The Center’s mission, as outlined on it’s website, http://www.mccormack.umb.edu/cwppp/index.jsp, is to maintain “a commitment to advancing women’s participation in the public life of Massachusetts, the New England region, and the nation. [And] Recognizing the talent and potential of women from every community…[while] guided by the urban mission of an intellectually vibrant and diverse university.” The center coordinates a one-year graduate level certificate program for Women in Politics & Public Policy, one of three programs within the department of Public Policy. The program offers opportunities for political engagement, public management, research, consulting, and administration as well as opportunities to integrate academic work with experience in the professional sphere.

“Women here bring so much to the table,” Motley said. “[They] bring a different perspective and that’s been so helpful to all of us throughout the campus. I know particularly it’s been helpful to me.”