SMU in NOLA: an Introduction

| April 10, 2008 - 2:00 pm

Tags: blueprints, community organizing, feminism

Hello to all!


First and foremost, I would like to thank YP4 again for all the time and energy they’ve dedicated to their fellows. It is refreshing to have so many progressive mentors that are always ready to listen and give feedback on our many ideas, concerns, and freak-outs. (Those of you who got back from D.C. and immediately started your blueprint to submit by the spring deadline know what I mean when I say that their “freak-out support” is amazing.)


This blog post serves as an introduction to my blueprint, “SMU in NOLA: Bigger Picture Feminism.” I want to start off with a little background information before I launch into what SMU in NOLA is all about.


Southern Methodist University is a private institution located in a pseudo-city of Dallas called University Park. It isn’t really a city as much as it is a very wealthy neighborhood with its own police department apart from the rest of Dallas. It is also where George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are rumored to be building homes where they may retire peacefully after this administration. For those of you in the know, SMU is (coincidentally) where the George W. Bush Presidential library is being built. By the way, Laura Bush sits on the board at SMU. Lovely.


So it would seem that the chips were stacked against a broke activist and community college transfer student like me. People kept saying that SMU was a haven for Greek Life and that I’d end up dropping out or reliving my every high school outcast experience. For the most part, they were wrong. I don’t allow others to intimidate me by saying I won’t fit in just because my daddy isn’t the CEO of something or the other. Plus the professors are exceptional and it’s a great school.


In a sense, it is true that SMU is a microcosm of North Texas in general. It’s superficial, it wants to be LA it wants to be New York and it brags about its Prada sunglasses. But just like Dallas, there are pockets of activism and progressive change lurking around clubs, art galleries, train stations, and at the organization I’ve been with for over two years, the Texas Campaign for the Environment. Just like Texas weather, wait a few seconds and the people will surprise you.


So when I heard last August that the campus student feminist group had been inactive for nearly two years, I had to take action. As a person familiar with the ins and outs of grassroots organizing, I felt personally responsible and obligated to get the Women’s Interest Network back on its feet. The program director at the Women’s Center, Maria Walker, and I began meeting a few times a week to discuss our strategy. We recruited a core group of young women who became WIN officers, we began meeting weekly, we advertised, auditioned, directed, and acted in The Vagina Monologues and we got over a dozen sororities to come out for Take Back the Night.  In short, the six of us took on various roles in order to bring back much needed femi-energy to SMU. Sweet.


Yet one of the main reasons WIN had been dormant is because aside from those two events, little else was done to sustain interest throughout the semester. Enter my blueprint, SMU in NOLA: Bigger Picture Feminism.


The main idea is that if WIN officers were exposed to the international women’s movement, their interest in and dedication to the success of WIN’s goals on campus would solidify. They be able to see firsthand how organizing events on our campus influences and sustains the movement at large. They’d have the ability to feel a personal ownership of the work that we and others are doing daily to balance the scales and improve the lives of women worldwide.


This weekend, we will be attending V-Day to the 10th in New Orleans. ( There, we will be exposed to a range of feminist theories and points of view through speakers, artists, panels, plays, prayers and other performances. We will be guest blogging for while we are there, so check it out. I’ll also be cross blogging everything here. We will video tape (when appropriate) and post a few Vlogs too. Then we will return home and hold a reflective campus discussion on what we learned and how to apply those teachings to the SMU and Dallas communities.


I am so excited to see how this all pans out. If you have any suggestions or advice, please let me know.