Mapping A Movement is a series of Feminist Campus Trip Diaries. Our organizers travel the nation to help feminist student leaders on college campuses – these are the tales of their adventures.
Maddie and Edwith recently embarked their first ever organizing overnight trip – they spent a week in OHIO!
Aside from avoiding moldy croissants and surviving hours on a plane, they were helping student leaders get started for a bright year of activism and working to promote a rally on October 2 speaking out against Ohio’s upcoming “heartbeat bill.”
The Ohio Legislature is coming back in October and they have already reintroduced the Heartbeat Bill. This is on top of the budget, which included of some of the most restrictive reproductive health provisions in that nation. We must let the Ohio Legislature know that women are watching and we won’t go back!
This is their travel diary.
Maddie: Our trip started out the way all great business trips start out, a sleepover at my parent’s house. All jokes aside, it was pretty convenient staying so close to the airport before heading off on our Ohio travels! We set out bright and early on Sunday morning and headed off to Columbus from BWI! I found out halfway through our flight that I was sitting next to one of my favorite Orioles baseball players from my childhood (dreams do come true!) and proceeded to tell him my life story.
Edwith: This will be my second time in the midwest, but my first time in the lovely state of Ohio. This trip had a rocky start considering our flight was delayed and I bit into a moldy croissant butmeeting young leaders who care about the world puts a smile on face…..so take that, moldy airport croissant!
Maddie: We arrived in Columbus one layover and several coffees later and met our temporary family for the trip, the Montforts. On our first night we headed to our hosts’ favorite local restaurant Club 185. I am still reeling from amazement that in Columbus I was able to get a hamburger for $3.0. Dear DC, please start selling me delicious hamburgers for $3.00 or I may have to move to Columbus permanently. Our host Jessica must be a mind reader because she also showered us with delightfully unhealthy snacks and the love of her two dogs Sophie and Riggins.
Edwith: Every feminist should try to start their day off with a good breakfast but sometimes a Danish and puppy cuteness works too.
Maddie: On Monday morning we headed to Ohio University in Athens. Lucky for us Ohio has some great radios stations that play 90s music all day – Cue a montage of us singing “It’s the remix to ignition” and driving through the mountains of Ohio. Once we were in Athens I started what would be one of many conversations with strangers to get directions. My family still teases me about my terrible sense of direction and the one time I got lost in the mall and hand to page my mom over the loud speaker to come and find me …I was 16. From then on my sense of direction or lack there of has been the butt of every family joke.
Once we had directions to Brenen’s Café we were off to meet the President of the Feminist Equality Movement, a new undergraduate club, Grace Schoenberger. Grace decided to form the club after seeing other feminist groups on campus fizzle out after senior leaders graduated. She wanted to form a group that would be sustainable and foster feminist discussion and activity both on campus and in the community.
Maddie: I ordered a delicious Greek sandwich to make up for all of the junk food I’d been snacking on since we got to Ohio and Edwith ordered soup and a sandwich that was mold free – we can’t say the same about her croissant at BWI airport. (Sadly, we do not have photo evidence of the suspicious croissant but I did send an SOS on Facebook.) Grace is both hilarious and fearless. She has started a brand new club from scratch and already has 30 members – keep in mind school just started a couple of weeks ago. She discussed issues with rape culture on campus and a recent event where The Student Senate President at OU sent out a tweet that “slut shamed” female students. Luckily, students responded strongly to this tweet and showed him that they wouldn’t stand for that type of behavior, especially from student leadership. Grace invited us to her group’s meeting that night where they would be discussing recruitment, Love Your Body Day, and letting us present information on the upcoming rally.
In between our lunch with Grace and the rally I was able to meet with Audrey Imes, President of VOX and OU and Lacey Rogers, leader of Empowering Women Ohio at Donkey Coffee downtown. We discussed the rally, the awesome feminist work that both of their groups are involved in on campus, and how we could teach students about Title IX, the Cleary Act, and other avenues for countering mishandling of sexual violence cases on college campuses. We had to keep the meeting short since they both had class but I am excited to see them again when I am back in Ohio for the rally on October 2nd!
Edwith: While Maddie was meeting with Audrey and Lacey, I met with Eve Ng and Lynette Peck of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at OU. They did a great time directing us to other contacts on campus that would be interested in the rally and helped us to spread the word on campus, and I dropped off some flyers for them to give out to their own connections. We’re building up quite a feminist network in these here parts!
Maddie: Edwith and I met back up to visit the United Campus Ministry (UCM) a progressive non-profit off campus. One of the staff members, Melissa Wales is also a teacher in the Women’s and Gender Studies program on campus and all around badass feminist. She helped us brainstorm supportive staff members and student clubs on campus and ways to get people excited for the rally! She has done an amazing job telling other staff members and teachers about the event and the legislation that we are standing up against.
Maddie: After our meetings Edwith and I took a tour of the local coffee shops until we finally found wifi – and ice cream! We settled in at Whit’s to set up class pitches for the rest of the week and prepare for our meeting with FEM in the Women’s Center. We had a few minutes before our meeting when we were able to chat with Kelly Fisher, a writer for the student newspaper who is interested in writing about the rally for her paper. When we walked into the meeting we were shocked to see 30 members walk into the room! Luckily I ordered 3 pizzas for the meeting so all of us had an equal opportunity to stuff our faces – who doesn’t love free food!? No one, that’s who.
Maddie: Grace introduced us to the group, many of which were already familiar with the Feminist Majority Foundation and were excited to grab some “This is What a Feminist Stickers” that we’d brought along with us. We talked to everyone about our jobs as National Campus Organizers and our roles working with student leaders. We chatted about recruitment, fundraising, and mentorship and brainstormed ideas for the rest of the school year.
When I presented information on the rally and the Ohio legislation that will limit women’s access to reproductive healthcare and services the group was fired up to attend the rally and 25 out of 30 members in attendance signed a pledge to attend! Two hours and several pizzas later we stayed around to chat with a few members about feminism, the life of an organizer, and issues going on at the OU campus. The highlight of the day was when Grace told me she thought I was 25. Actually – scratch that – this was the highlight of my month after last week in DC when I taxi driver asked if I was 15 and why I was out so late at my age. I gave him a rating of 1 star on Uber as revenge.We headed back to Columbus where we were warmly greeted by our trip mascot Sophie the terrier and prepared for our Tuesday trip to OSU.
Maddie: I spent Tuesday morning catching up the FMF staff with our trip so far and our itinerary for the rest of the week. On our way to OSU I took a lovely pit stop at the Urgent Care Center where I found out that my left tonsil was severally infected and was given a hefty dose of antibiotics for the rest of the week.
Edwith: While Maddie waited at Urgent Care, I visited the Women’s Studies Department and The Women’s Place – a resource center for female faculty. I got to chat with everyone about the rally and handed out informational fliers to give out to students and post around campus. Those folks connected us with several other staff members interested in the rally and have since helped us to get the word out on campus.
Maddie: Lucky for me I’m used to getting sick at inconvenient times – like my stay in the University of London hospital on my second week of study abroad – and after Edwith’s picked me up from my appointment peanut stir fry at Oodles of Noodles was enough to cheer me up. After lunch we drove to the main campus to perform a class pitch for Rachel Stonebrook’s class on US Women Writers. The students were really receptive and asked great questions about the recent legislation and how it will affect Ohio women. Of the 15 students in the class 8 pledged to definitely attend the rally and the rest said that they would talk to their teachers to be excused from their Wednesday morning classes in order to come.
We were able to swing by the multicultural center and give them information on the rally to send out in their next newsletter. We also popped into a campus café to grab some food in between the class pitch and our next meeting. I managed to leave my iPhone charging on a table in the middle of the café for 30 minutes while we were at our next meeting with Women and Allies Rising in Resistance (WARR) in a different building on campus. As soon as I realized that I left my phone there I sprinted across campus to see if it had been stolen. No one had even moved it – Ohio State University Students are good people – if I had done this back at the University of Maryland it would’ve been for sale on e-bay within 15 minutes. Go Terps!
Once I was back at the WARR meeting I realized that Edwith had already become friends with the group members and was chatting with one member, Neil, about the crazy anti-women legislation that has been passed in his home state of Texas.
Edwith: Although we are here to inform the community about the rally, it has been a very touching experience to connect and relate to so many individuals. A lot were very upset with Ohio’s anti-choice budget. They were not only upset with how it would affect them but how it would affect their communities and the women who are from Ohio. Speaking to them and hearing their input has been a great reminder of how important it is to be involved not just for yourself or a great resume but for the actual people they affect. So far Ohio has taught me that they care about Women’s Right and this current legislation is not reflective of the people here.
Maddie: The group was really welcoming and inclusive, letting us sit in on part of the meeting after we presented information on the rally – every member pledged to attend! We then hopped next door to attend the FemUnity club meeting where they were watching Identity Thief with a list of feminist questions about the movie to discuss with a panel of Women’s Studies students afterwards. Maria and Jess, the President and Treasurer of FemUnity, snuck out of the movie to chat with us about their group and the feminist work they do on campus. I was blown away by their passion for feminist issues and the innovative ways they are getting students interested and involved in feminism – including this weekly movie and discussion series. They both agreed to come to the rally, hand out fliers and sign up sheets in their classes, and mobilize on campus. I’m really excited to work with this group when I am back in DC and to help them with all of their plans for the rest of the school year!
We drove back to German Village after a long but successful day where I slept off the tonsil infection, and on Wednesday were back on the road to Athens where I made Edwith stop at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere because I have to pee approximately every 5 minutes, much like a small dog. After this little adventure we met with Sarah Jenkins, the Women’s Center Program Coordinator back on the OU campus.
Maddie: We joked around about 90s pop culture after Sarah told us the Women’s Center would be showing Clueless for a feminist film and discussion. Edwith and Sarah kindly reminded me that I was too young to enjoy the best of the 90s – although I did have a slinky! Sarah helped us brainstorm ways to transport students from OU to the rally and get more students on campus involved with both the rally and feminist events at the Women’s Center. The Women’s Center has a jam packed list of events already planned for the next few months and if that isn’t enough to entice you they have a Feminist Ryan Gosling book in their lobby.
I convinced Edwith after our meeting with Sarah that I couldn’t leave Athens without an OU coffee mug. This is partially because I wanted a souvenir from our campus visit and partially because I only own one coffee mug that I bought from Marshalls and has a giant tiger on it. We then proceeded to try on every tee shirt in the store. Luckily the store, UniversiTees, was right next to Hillel where we were meeting with Lauren Goldberg to talk about hillel’s involvement with social justice on campus.
Maddie: Lauren taught us abou t Tikkun Olam, translated from Hebrew to English as “repairing the world”. The students and staff at OU Hillel use the concept of Tikkun Olam to guide their efforts and blend Jewish values with social justice education and activism. Lauren and some of her student leaders from Jewish Women of Ohio (JWO), a progressive and feminist student group created through the OU Hillel, will be attending the rally and working with the Feminist Majority Foundation on various feminist events and activities after the rally is over.
We were able to squeeze in one more class pitch at Ohio University for upper level women’s studies students. Although it was approximately 110 degrees in the classroom the students were very receptive to my presentation about the rally and some of them even took quarter page fliers to hand out to their friends and classmates. Only a handful of students could pledge to attend the rally since upper level courses are harder to miss but they promised to talk to their teachers about potential excused absences. I was excited to meet an AOII in the classroom – guess which sorority I was in in college – and gave her extra fliers and “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” stickers to hand out back at the sorority house.
Edwith: Ohio State University and Ohio University are great campuses with awesome young Feminist who have a strong desire to organize and affect the world around them. We met with various Feminist groups like Feminist Equality Movement (F.E.M), Fem Equity, and Women and Allies Rising in Resistance. Each group had their own brand and identity but all were motivated with organizing and impacting the world around them in pure Feminist fashion and wonderfulness.
Maddie: Luckily for us Bentley Hall is right next to the Baker Center Student Union because we had to hurry off to a 3:30 meeting with Susanne Dietzel, the Director of the Women’s Center. Grace attended the meeting to talk about how the Women’s Center, Feminist Majority Foundation, and Feminist Equality Movement club could work together to get students from OU to the rally. It took several failed attempts but we finally came up with a plan to use discounted university van rentals to transport students from OU to the rally – Yay! Grace went off to get the process for setting up transportation started while Edwith and I went to a new café, Court Street Coffee, for a change in wifi scenery.
Maddie: One of the members of the Feminist Equality Movement club was working there which meant a delightful hour talking about feminism, intersections of identity, and campus culture while receiving free samples of Chaider. Whoever came up with the idea to mix chai lattes with apple cider is a genius and deserves a reward immediately. I’m looking at you Court Street Coffee!
Maddie: This meeting was unlike our typical class pitches. These students entered into a popcorn round of tough questions about the effects of the Ohio legislation on clinic staff, physicians, and hospitals throughout Ohio. We even had a long discussion of the heartbeat bill, mandated scripts for abortion providers, and transfer agreements. I let feeling that I had learned as much about the need for the rally as the students.
Edwith: The medical students were probing Maddie on upcoming legislation, and Dr. Jane Broecker, MD, told us she’s concerned that medically inaccurate language is being used in legislation.
Maddie: This brings us to Thursday. This day is different from any other day on our trip because Edwith and I had to split up and work on different campuses in order to attend all of our meetings and class pitches. Edwith dropped me off at the Mendenhall Lab to give a class pitch to 20 sleepy freshman in Phoebe Chen’s 9:30 Introduction to Women’s Studies Class, several of which were soaking wet due to an unexpected rain storm. I was pleasantly surprised when 10 students pledged to come to the rally and several others took several informational fliers to hand out to friends who they thought would be interested in attending.
Edwith: I met with the lovely people of Ohio Wesleyan. Our meeting was organized by a senior pre-law student Sophie Crispin, who was heavily involved with the feminist movement on her campus but was worried about its sustainabilit: the majority of those active on campus had already graduated and although shes in the process of preparing to graduate she wanted to leave something behind and make sure feminism had a continuous presence. Being there meant being in a room full of intelligent, insightful, and passionate student leaders. They were very motivated in coming together to create a coalition effort to attend the rally and also raised some interesting concerns about their college community. They wanted to broaden gender equity to be inclusive of the LGBTQ community and include more support of their male communit; their Women’s Resource Center intern Skylar Drake was also adamant in creating an organized effort to have a presence at the upcoming rally. Although I had to leave for a class presentation, It was clear I left on the heels of a burgeoning movement for Ohio Wesleyan. I’m excited to what the future looks like for them.
Maddie: I am so glad that I remembered to pack an umbrella because I got lost for 30 minutes on my way to find the campus Starbucks! This trip has been a crazy string of 12 hour work days, asking strangers for directions, and chasing wifi but we have met so many inspirational student leaders, faculty, and staff along our journey and I feel like I’ve really grown as an organizer.