Event held to celebrate and empower women

Kelley Holland

Students gathered on the third floor of Downing Student Union Wednesday night for the Women’s Appreciation Event.

The event was coordinated by the Campus Activities Board and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Both men and women attended the event and music played overhead while some organizations set up tables around the room.

The campus organizations that attended the event were Black Women of Western, Pinky Promise, Girls To Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Sigma Gamma Rho.

Cecilia Knighten, president of the Campus Activities Board, said the purpose of the event was to promote organizations for women and give women the chance to find new activities to get involved in.

“It’s also Women’s History Month, so we wanted to have an event in that month to uplift and empower women,” Knighten said.

Girls To Women is a relatively new organization, founded in September of 2018 by Brionna Douglas. The organization hosts campus events to provide networking for women and also to do community service.

“Our mission is to provide an approachable, warm and uplifting environment for girls,” Morgan Deravil, the event planner for the organization, said.

Destini Sanders, vice president of Girls To Women, said the organization is all about women supporting one another.

“We support one another through help with mental and physical health awareness,” Sanders said. “We help with GPA and we do stress relievers and things like that. We’re a diverse group.”

Taylor Manning, a student who attended the event, said she was happy to see a campus event that celebrated women.

“I think it’s important because it’s a celebration of people,” Manning said. “Women have such an importance to this world and it’s nice to be celebrated now and then.”

Later in the evening, Darinda Reddick read a poem entitled “Black Beauty” and another student gave a powerful speech about women and domestic violence.

The speech, also known as a persuasion essay, was delivered by Tayland Ratliff, a student on the forensics team. It focused on the stories of women who were imprisoned for fleeing domestic violence.

Ratliff noted how victims of domestic violence are often not given the proper resources and then are punished for defending themselves. She cited a website called “Survived and Punished” which is a coalition that organizes to decriminalize efforts to survive domestic violence.

“We never hear the other side of the victim’s story,” Ratliff said. “I kind of wanted to reach out and be able to do that.”

As for attending the event itself, Ratliff felt that the concept of women’s appreciation was extremely important.

“I think it’s really humbling that men are actually paying attention to these things and trying to understand what actually goes on in our minds to be able to show their appreciation for all of us,” Ratliff said.

Kanaan Lightsy, activities coordinator for the Campus Activities Board and the president of Alpha Phi Alpha, said they decided to hold this event to bring together as many students as possible.

“I see so many people trying to figure out ways to get involved,” Lightsy said. “One thing that I noticed is that it’s a lot of women. So it’s Women’s History Month, why not have a women’s appreciation day and why not try to get women involved?”

Lightsy said he hopes that those who attended the event got to speak with at least one of the organizations and find a way to get involved.

News reporter Abbigail Nutter contributed reporting to this story.

Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]