Women’s History Month

Jes Baker, a body-love advocate capped off a month-long series of events for Women’s History Month at Missouri Western. Other events for the month celebrating women and their accomplishments including other prominent speakers, a wage-equality bake sale and a film screening. Melinda Kovács, assistant professor of political science and a key organizer for Women History Month events at MWSU, said that Women's History Month provides an opportunity to explore different viewpoints than what do not often get shared. “It's a recognition of the fact that not only history, but any kind of social science or story of humanity is told from the perspective, of the dominant group in society at anytime,” Kovács said. “We can have a lot of arguments by who may be the dominant group in contemporary American society, but women are not it.” She adds, “It’s an attempt to underline the fact that that dominant group does not include women and to also to highlight the experiences that women have had, to highlight the struggles and successes that women have had, and it’s a celebration of the fact that women can and are making contributions.” While women achieve, there are still inequalities between men and women. For instance, in the United States, women tend to make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes while working the same job. A discussion on this inequality became part of this year’s WHM programming. “To highlight this, there was a workshop on Monday evening about the wage gap,” Kovács said. “There was a wage gap bake sale. The idea was if you were a woman, you could buy the baked goods for 75 cents, but if you were a man, they are going to charge you an entire dollar. This is one subversive way of calling attention to the fact that if you have two individuals with the same background, same degrees, and work in similar jobs, but one is a man, and one is a woman, the man is probably making more money.” Madeline Marx, president and founder of the student group Women of the Future, sees Women’s History Month as a positive time. “It’s a celebratory month… There’s different definitions. It has to do with equality; it doesn't just have to do with famous women; we’re not just sitting around talking about Nancy Reagan for hours; we look at the progress throughout time and history...how far women have come as far as equal rights go. It’s a way to raise awareness," Marx said. “History is his story. This is her story. We are saying that women have been anonymous. When you have quotes by anonymous, chances are it was by a woman. It’s our opportunity, throughout time we have textbooks written and movies made...primarily have had to do with men; this our chance to have a whole month devoted to just women. Events are NOT just for women. With Women of the Future, we strive to promote equality among all genders; we are not excluding genders. We are not saying there is no men allowed here.” Marx continues, “I think it is important that millennials especially understand the struggle, process, and progress, that women have had to endure. We just got the right to vote in the last century. We still don’t have equal pay. We haven’t made it far enough. There is statistic that by the year 2020, there will be five women in college for every two men. Lots of women are coming into leadership roles. It’s important that we understand the progress and what people went through to get us to this point.” The first Women’s History Month on this campus was organized in 2013, according to Kovacs. “Part of the effort to raise awareness starts with getting involved in attending, in being part of the conversations," Kovacs said. One event in particular stood out to many students and appeared to grab the attention of everyone in the room. Patience Jones, a rape, abuse and incest survivor stood up in front of an audience and shared her painful memories of her parents' physical and mental abuse, which started at age 2. The abuse continued all throughout her childhood and teen years. She clung to education as a way to escape her family and finally be safe. In certain cases, her father even threatened to take her out of school. Fortunately, her determination and education took her far in life and far away from her family. After many difficult years of therapy, Jones was finally starting to begin a normal life. She found a man that who she claims is “superman” and is the perfect fit for her and her situation. She has become very successful in life. She hasn’t spoken to her parents in six years and doesn’t plan to do so anytime soon. Women’s History Month may have come to end, but it’s awesome.

An un-Belize-able trip

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Spring break is always a nice intermission to the semester for all students, and for the BIO 220 Field Natural History class, it was nothing short of an adventure. Dr. Mark Mills lead 27 students plus two other chaperones, including his wife Louise Mills and Dr. Robert Nulph, to Belize for the duration of the break. BIO 220 is a class that anyone in the department can teach. Professors wishing to teach it must submit a proposal and destination. The class curriculum is then based off of the landscape and wildlife of whatever country or location is chosen. This year the trip was planned for Belize. Dr. David Ashley usually leads the class and the trip, but due to some personal health issues, he was unable to teach the class. Mills took over the class and lead the students on the trip. “Dr. David Ashley was the instructor and I was just going to go along to learn the ropes. He has been doing it for years. To go from being an observer to, hey I'm in charge, the game changes a little,” Mills said. Regardless of the plan changing suddenly, Mills said that the trip was great and that it was a wonderful experience for himself and the students. “Even though it was a biology trip, we were learning about the culture and the history. There’s more happening on one of these trips, its the pinnacle of applied learning.” Mills expressed the importance of applied learning repeatedly. One cannot learn the same things in a classroom that they can learn actually going to a place like Belize. Tammy Glise, the trip coordinator, spoke about what all goes into planning one of these trips. Students have to sign a series of documents, get passports and provide emergency medical information before going on a trip. There are usually between six and eight trips like this every year. While travel abroad experiences are a fun cultural experience, there is always an educational side to them. “There needs to be an academic component. We want the students to be able to earn credit hours, and of course we're not a travel agency. We're here to provide a travel experience that is a learning experience and fun, we hope, too,” Glise said. Jordan Snook was one of the students who went on the Belize trip. For her, going was one way to ensure that her senior year would stand out. “I decided to go because of hearing about it, and this being my last semester, I wanted it to be one big event. This was like a once in a life time opportunity to learn down there and I've never been out of the country,” Snook said. Snook was moved by the things she saw while on the trip. She talked about the differences between America and the third world poverty-stricken country of Belize. The cultural differences were both interesting and shocking to her. Belize is covered in national parks and everything is very well preserved. Most of the places the group went were protected areas such as Mayan ruins and coral reefs. “Seeing how they preserve and care about everything around them. They're really protective of their environment and I think that's really cool because I don't think we focus on that enough here,” Snook said. The group stayed on the mainland for part of the trip and on the island of San Pedro for the second part. While there, they explored Mayan ruins, jungles and the second largest coral reef in the world. For Snook, learning about and experiencing the ruins was her favorite part of the trip. “My favorite part is probably different from other people, but I really liked the Mayan ruins. Just walking up and realizing these were built before Christ walked, and we were able to see how they lived and picture in our minds what they have still yet to uncover. It just felt like sacred ground,” Snook said. Mills found his most memorable experience from the trip to be under the water. “Seeing all the coral reef fish was tremendous. I've seen pictures of them and I've seen them in aquariums, but to see this fish out there on the reef is tremendous. As a herpetologist probably seeing a sea turtle in the ocean. But to see them, to be swimming with them in the water, frankly was almost like an out of body experience. I don’t even know how to describe it. You feel like you’re outside of your body experiencing it,” Mills said. There are opportunities available for all students. Regardless of major, anyone who has had one science class on campus can sign up for BIO 220. Other departments offer study abroad experiences as well. Study abroad trips are ones that will create life long memories. Not only are they learning opportunities, but life experiences as well.

Griffons celebrate Holi festival

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Spring is here to bring back a pop of color into our lives, and last Tuesday’s Holi festival gave the season a leg up on that. The Indian celebration marks the end of winter and arrival of spring. The so called festival of colors is famous for its color powders thrown into the air and on people and is marked by music, food and hours of dancing. Swaathy Kella and Deepak Kumar Sambangi, two Indian graduate students who only recenlty came to Missouri Western helped organize the campus event. Kella is happy that many students participated in the event, especially domestic ones. “We’re happy that most of them [attending students] were U.S. nationals,” Kella said. Kella is pleased that local students showed interest in the Indian traditions and is more than willing to share her believes. “They came to know about Holi and the significance of Holi, why we celebrate. I’m glad they came to know about our culture.” Curious students were not only showered in colorful powder, they could also dance to Indian music and try traditional foods and drinks like samosas (dumplings filled with spicy peas and other vegetables) and masala chai (black tea brewed with Indian spices and herbs and mixed with milk), which the students got from an Indian restaurant in Kansas City. “You never get that kind of recipe anywhere in the world. Indian food is the best out of all the ones I’ve tasted so far,” Kella said. Although Kella and Sambangi are from different parts of India, the Holi festival is celebrated the same all over the country and is in fact getting more and more popular globally, with many American cities celebrating the festival of colors on an annual basis. “Everywhere where there is a large Indian population, people are going to celebrate Holi,” Sambangi said. In India, the day of Holi is a holiday celebrated by everyone. “We put colors on everyone - who we know, we don’t know, neighbors, strangers, elders, women, men, everyone,” Kella said. The reason that the Holi festival is so popular is that its message is clearly a positive one - an invitation to celebrate life. Furthermore, Holi is celebrated during the first month of the Hindu calendar. “As per Hindu calendar, we have to start fresh, with a new spirit. We leave behind all the sorrows and rivalry. We spread love, most importantly, and start anew,” Sambangi said.

Franke Wilmer speaks on feminism

BY JUSTIN JANORSCHKE As March is Women’s History Month, Missouri Western has become involved with promoting the struggles and issues that have faced women both in the past and present. To kick off the event calendar, Western’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha helped bring in Dr. Franke Wilmer to speak about women’s issues in her speech entitled “A World of Difference: Living in a Woman’s Body.” Dr. Shawna Harris, Associate Professor of Communication, attended Wilmer’s speech. “I wanted to come because I wanted to see Franke as a political leader and as a feminist, an activist and professor,” Harris said. “I wanted to see if she had any comments about the current political climate even though I knew her talk was about women and identity.” As a former member of the Montana state legislature, Dr. Wilmer was the perfect person to talk about women’s issues in politics. She argued how the idea of patriarchy is hurting democracy. An overarching theme, patriarchy is defined broadly in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.” Madeline Marx, a senior studying Elementary Education, explained why it is important to realize the problem of patriarchy. “As much as the patriarchy may never go away, I think that [Wilmer’s] whole message was it starts with the realization that there is a patriarchy and that there’s something that we can do about it by educating ourselves,” Marx said. Wilmer stressed that is it is not the idea that men must be overthrown, rather that power must be shared equally among the people, men and women alike. Unless power is shared, people aren’t able to be properly represented by their government. “We know we’re different as men and women, but does that have to become the basis for marginalizing people?” Wilmer said. Overall, Wilmer’s speech gave the students and faculty at Western much to think about on the topic of gender equality, a fitting beginning to Women’s History Month.

A brief history of Easter

As a kid, Easter was always about hunting for eggs, making delicious treats and getting gifts from the Easter Bunny, but as we grow older it’s important to understand why the holiday is celebrated. Jay Lemanski, assistant professor of history, explains that Easter begins with the Jewish Festival of Passover. “Passover commemorates when the Jews were slaves in Egypt and how God freed them from slavery,” Lemanski explained. In the New Testament, Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover when the crucifixion and resurrection occurred. Because the resurrection of Jesus occurred on a Sunday, the day became the Christian’s day of worship. The Christians encountered a problem when deciding the date in which to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection because the Christian calendar differed from the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar is based on the moon, where a new month begins on sunset at the first sliver of the new moon. So, the days don’t line up the same on a year–to–year basis the way the Christian calendar does. Passover takes place on the 15th day of the Jewish calendar, which always occurs on a full moon. The Jewish wanted to celebrate the resurrection the third day after Passover when Jesus rose again, but the Christians wanted to celebrate it on a Sunday, so a compromise was made. “In 325, at the council of Nicea, [the early Christians] came up with this hideous formula for calculating the day of Easter,” Lemanski said. “It’s the Sunday as close to Passover as you can get.” The traditions of Easter, such as the egg and bunny, are celebrated to symbolize the rebirth or resurrection: they are both symbols of fertility.