An online town hall forum and a celebrity launch event are among the many avenues that the Undergraduate Council plans to take as part of its “Harvard HeForShe” gender equality initiative this semester.
The project, spearheaded by Mather House representative Michelle S. Lee ’16, aims to consolidate voices of various gender student groups on campus, as well as engage more male figures in the discussion of universal empowerment. “Harvard HeForShe” is an extension of the United Nations’ HeForShe worldwide gender campaign, which formally began last September.
Shortly after, Lee began work on the College-specific extension of the campaign and has worked with other Council representatives since the beginning of the spring semester to involve various student groups in the project.
“We are currently reaching out to student groups to ask what gender equality looks like in their respective spaces,” Lee said. “We especially hope to reach those groups who may not traditionally participate in a ‘women’s rights’ movement.”
Lee plans to hold a formal celebrity launch event for “Harvard HeForShe” through the Institute of Politics later this spring. Once the campaign is launched, the Council hopes to sustain it by partnering with the Harvard Business School to deliver an online town hall forum to students.
“Ultimately, we want people to become more conscientious about these issues in their daily lives,” Lee said. Lee also added that the inspiration to start the campaign also sprung from “unbalanced gender ratios” within the Council itself. After last September's election, the Council had its greatest gender imbalance in four years.
According to former and current Council members, the UC is a prime organization to lead the HeForShe campaign because of its access and relevance to all students at the College.
“As far as rallying the entire undergraduate community behind a movement, it’s something that nothing but the UC can contribute,” said former UC Vice President Sietse K. Goffard ’15. “Having the UC help carry that momentum forward, it’s really an exciting thing.”
In an interview earlier this semester, UC President Ava Nasrollahzadeh ’16 and UC Vice President Dhruv P. Goyal ’16 said that they prefer to focus on “deliverability”of projects such as “Harvard HeForShe” and a proposed Harvard phone application package in lieu of negotiating with administrators.
“I believe that the issues tackled by Harvard HeforShe and the app package are valuable in that they are student-driven and directly affect student life,” Lee said. “If students are paying activities fees for the year, then they deserve to see projects improving student life roll out in that same year.”
—Staff writer Jalin P. Cunningham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @JalinCunningham.
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