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ISSUE 120 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/9/2007

Month celebrates generations

By Emily Koester
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 9, 2007

March 5 marks the kick-off of this year’s annual Women’s History Month. Though usually organized by Community Life and Diversity, this year Women’s History Month is headed by Judy Kutulas, women’s studies department chair and professor of history.

“This year the theme is ‘Celebrating Generations of College Women’,” said Kutulas.

She hopes that Women’s History Month this year will allow people to connect across generations and that students can listen to “both peers and former college students.”

The planned events will also bring in a global dimension to the month. Kutulas and others in the women’s studies department have planned a variety of activities, including a panel on March 5 at 7 p.m. in Valhalla. Student panelists Chrissy Shults ‘07, Eve Sundberg ‘07, Lisa Gulya ‘07, Adam Dodge ‘08, Laura Durden ‘08 and Miriam Samuelson ‘08 discussed their perspectives about gender in light of their study abroad experiences.

Other events during Women’s History Month include keynote speaker Brenda Berkman, a 1973 St. Olaf alumna, who went on to become one of the first female firefighters in New York City. On March 13, there will be a viewing of “Taking the Heat: The First Female Firefighters of New York City” in Holland 501 at 7 p.m. The movie is based on the personal experiences of Berkman and other women firefighters. Berkman will be conducting a question-and- answer session following the film.

Because Kutulas is conducting Women’s History Month this year instead of the Community Life and Diversity Center, she is taking the opportunity to develop new programs.

“I don’t have the same structure as Community Life in past years,” Kutulas said. “I had to rely on other people and what they thought they could do.”

A new program in Women’s History Month this year is the reading component. Over 50 people this year signed up to read “College Girls: Bluestockings, Sex Kittens and Coeds, Then and Now,” by Lynn Peril. Readers will come together during March to discuss the book. Kutulas hopes that this theme of cross-generational college experience will draw people of all ages to talk about women’s issues. “There is a wonderful synergy that happens when you bring people with college experiences together,” she said. Kutulas also hopes this month’s theme “will make students see themselves as part of a larger continuum” of people and particularly of women.

Other events may evolve throughout the month. The women’s studies department may, for example, hold another film viewing. Kutulas cautions, however, against having too many activities.

“Too many events water down attendance,” she said.

She hopes that the events that are planned, though, will draw plenty of people. While Women’s History Month is essentially “for women,” Kutulas still encourages men to “come and not just be observers but participants and part of the action.” Attendance by all – students or alumni, male or female – is encouraged.

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