Students respond to the Kavanaugh flyer
Tamonda Griffiths – News Writer
In response to the flyer posted on the Women’s Studies Program door, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Alex Girard, encouraged his students to create and post flyers with the words ‘You Belong Here.’
“A group was made to feel like they don’t belong,” said Girard.
The project, he said, was not “in the works” at the time, and he was not aware of the initial incident until President Joe Bertolino’s campus-wide email.
After receiving the email, Girard said, he wondered what students did with the information.
“I was hoping to give students in my program the opportunity to reflect and think about that and not just have it, you know, be some buzz in the background,” he said.
Through graphic design, he said, students will study “visual culture” and the ways in which “visual artifacts” influence others.
He challenged his students, he said, to create a message that was inclusive to all. Girard said when he pitched the idea to his students, he also offered up an alternative assignment, which none of his students took up.
When the incident first occurred, Yi-Chun Tricia Lin, director of the Women’s Studies Program said she felt, “violated as a program,” as well as, disturbed, troubled, but also determined.
Lin said she and Girard had met once before during the Art Department reviewing process and had thought the meeting would be a follow-up for that.
“It was just…I mean, I was flabbergasted,” said Lin, “and frankly, I was – you know, when I realized what it was, what an extraordinary gift it was I was overwhelmed.”
Lin said she was deeply grateful to Girard and was on the verge of tears and requested a hug from Girard.
Lin said she immediately sent out the flyers to colleagues, the president of the university, and had Graduate Assistant Jen Wilson post it to social media.
According to Lin, within days the post reached over 2,000 people and had about 30 shares.
“We have never had such social media response to anything that we actually posted on Facebook,” said Lin.
Lin said she got responses from alumni who wanted to contribute their own ‘You Belong Here’ artwork.
Lin said a previous guest speaker, Irma McClaurin, a feminist activist and former president of Shaw University, had also seen the flyer.
She said, according to Lin, “‘I hope you’re going to make this into a something to help fundraise for women’s studies. I am having my checkbook ready when you have that.’”
Lin said another project is currently in progress as a response to the original incident is the SCSU Healing Project: The #MeToo Quilt.
The project is co-chaired by history Professor Virginia Metaxas, Technical Services Librarian Kari Swanson, and visiting Associate Professor of physics at Wesleyan University Lynn Westling in collaboration with the Women’s Studies Program.
According to Metaxas, Swanson, and Westling, the project is for members of the community to design quilt squares using symbols, statements and other representations of survival and recovery.
In terms of the investigation, Lin said she has not heard anything.
“I have no illusion that we’re going to, you know, pinpoint at one particular person generating it,” said Lin, who repeated her sentiments when the incident first occurred.
“The idea is how we move forward with it,” said Lin, “not dwelling on what caused the hurt, but turning this into an opportunity for a teaching, learning and decolonizing our minds.”
Photo Credit: Jenna Stepleman