Leading the charge: Poets observe Women’s Day at teach-in

MATTHEW PARK /QUAKER CAMPUS    Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Sara Angevine holds a teach-in with students for International Womens Day.


Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Sara Angevine holds a teach-in with students for International Womens Day.

Matthew Park

International Women’s Day was on March 8th and this year, the female activists and veteran civil advocates who organized the Women’s March on Washington back in January moved to have “A Day Without A Woman.” According to the group’s website, the goal of this event was to “highlight the economic power and significance that women and gender nonconforming people continue to face.” 

“A Day Without A Woman” allowed for people to participate in a number of ways including “refraining from paid and unpaid work, refrain from shopping in stores or online, or to simply wear red in solidarity of the strike,” according to the group’s site.

Although the number of participants was not as great in measure as it was for the Women’s March, Los Angeles Times reported that a number of schools and businesses either closed for the day or gave their female employees the day off. “School districts including Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia, Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina cancelled classes because of the number of staffers who requested time off,” the article said. “In Prince George’s County, a district of 130,000 students, the closures sent many parents scrambling for last-minute child care. Unaware of the protest, some showed up at schools with kids to drop off.”  

“A Day Without A Woman” drew supporters from all around the world. According to The New York Times, there were demonstrations taking place in Paris, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Rome, and Hong Kong. Those who organized the event understood that not everyone had the privilege to take the day off, so they encouraged those who couldn’t skip work or school to wear red to show solidarity. 

 Meanwhile on the Whittier College campus, the commemoration of International Women’s Day took place at the Campus Center Courtyard, where Visiting Professor of Political Science Sara Angevine held an open teach-in for both of her Women in Leadership classes.  

According to Angevine, the teach-in was a spur-of-the-moment idea that came from her students.  “I thought it was a great idea,” said Angevine.  “I’m not entirely sure what other organizations are doing, but at least we could hold our Women in Leadership class outside and make it open to people who might want to come by. Everyone thought that this would be a great way to show a gesture of solidarity and publicly show Whittier’s connection to the global women’s movement and uniting women across the campus.” 

An open teach-in proved to be beneficial for the Whittier College community.  Both students and staff passing through the courtyard took the time to sit in and take part in the timely discussion.  “It looked like a lot of bystanders came by just to sit in for a few minutes,” said senior Julia Giffin, who also helped organize the event. “Even if they didn’t contribute, we were hopefully still able to spread knowledge and awareness about women’s leadership.”

Reference and Instruction Librarian of the Wardman Library Samantha Alfrey expressed that she felt having an on-campus event for “A Day Without A Woman” would be beneficial for Poets who couldn’t afford to abandon their duties on campus for a day. “I personally would have loved to strike,” said Alfrey. “But I had obligations here [and] we have a small staff in our library. I wanted to think of something I could do with my day to contribute.” Alfrey attended Angevine’s teach-in and made feminist books available for checkout on the spot.  

“Rather than strike, women administrators, faculty, and staff at Whittier and the community were invited to wear red and gather at the teach-in in the Campus Courtyard in order to recognize and bring visibility to women of all backgrounds who make Whittier run each day and to reflect on how women’s issues in the US intersect with women’s issues more globally,” said Associate Professor of Religious Studies Rosemary Carbine.  “This is a hallmark of a Whittier education for global citizenship.”