This semester, I’ll be living in my campus’ feminist housing, and I could not be more jazzed. Living there was a goal of mine since the start of my college career, as someone who wants to study women’s history and gender studies, so I can be a better advocate.
At Women’s Concerns: A Feminist House (or WoCo), we are dedicated to promoting positive change on campus and contributing to the global movement for gender equality. In a year as stressful and sometimes discouraging as 2019, I feel better knowing that being a WoCo resident will give me the opportunity to fight for the marginalized and raise awareness. I believe campuses are in the real world, and any actions taken in these educational communities matter.
I have seen even within my first year of college that the feminist and activist presence on my campus is strong and growing. I value the ability to live among students who I know believe in equal rights. I feel safer in these spaces, too.
As a queer person, feminism is all the more important to me. Queer women and gender non-conforming folx are oppressed by patriarchal systems that fuel every action from the mildest microaggression to the most harmful violence. Intersectional feminism is not only gender liberation, but is also the key to dismantling other injustices like classism, ableism, and racism. I feel such pride to live in a world that has been impacted by queer and trans feminists like Marsha P. Johnson and Audre Lorde. I want to follow in their footsteps to heal the world.
There’s a couple events I was lucky enough to go to during my first year that were hosted by WoCo. One of them includes The Trans Day of Remembrance Vigil. Members of the house displayed pictures of the trans individuals that had been murdered within the past year, and we read their names to honor them. WoCo also produced The Vagina Monologues, which is a play that is all about individual’s relationships with their bodies. It’s a piece that is heartbreaking and hysterical at the same time. I feel like I participated in a small-liberal-arts-university rite of passage by performing in this play!
The day after I got into WoCo, I got to attend the House’s commemoration of Take Back The Night, which is a an annual march and vigil to stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and commit to ending violence. The participants marched to 20 different locations on campus where sexual assaults have occurred and recited chants like “Women united/Will never be divided” and “Claim our bodies, claim our rights, take a stand, take back the night.”
I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to live here. It is so important that advocates are given outlets and resources to not only do the work they wish to do, but also to be made to feel capable of the work they are doing. I know I will learn and grow in WoCo, I cannot wait to make this place my new home! My dorm rainbow and lesbian flags have found a new wall to proudly be command-strip-taped to. I’m looking forward to the various special moments I’ll experience while living in WoCo: listening parties to Janelle Monaë’s Dirty Computer, excitedly sharing of AOC’s new plans to make the world a better place, following the US Women’s National Team’s fight for equal pay…you know, just the moments that make being a feminist fulfilling!
About the Author:
Alyssa Sileo’s Thespian identity comes first and foremost in anything she carries out. As a member of the Drew University Class of 2022, she studies theatre arts, women’s and gender studies, and Spanish. She’s a proud NJ Thespian Alumni and member of their state chapter board. She is the leader of the international performances network The Laramie Project Project, which unites worldwide productions and readings of the acclaimed Tectonic Theater Project play and encourages community-based LGBTQ+ advocacy. Alyssa is humbled to serve as the 2017 Spirit of Matthew Award winner and as a Youth Ambassador for Matthew Shepard Foundation. She believes there is an advocacy platform tucked into every piece of the theatre catalogue and intends to write outreach into the canon.