How Equality University Enhanced My College Experience

By Alexandra Cochran
Blog Content Contributor

When you get to college, most people will tell you that you need to join clubs on campus to get the real university experience. That could mean Greek life, finding a church group or a fashion club. You’ve probably thought about it, but didn’t know where to begin.

I’ve been able to learn so much within one semester after I searched Texas State University’s website for a list of clubs and organizations that I could be a part of. Not only will joining a club look great on my resume, it will also give me a chance to meet new people (hey introverts!) and express myself through several ways: being able to communicate, bringing new ideas and being a part of something.

One organization I love is Feminist United (FemU), which is an on campus club that meets once a week to share personal stories and an array of new topics. FemU covers matters such as gender equality, body acceptance, gender identity, proper pronoun usage, appropriation vs. appreciation, animal rights and much more. These are all things related to our lives in certain ways. The more informed you become, the more you’re able to contribute to society in helpful ways.

Additionally, FemU led me into a mind-blowing event named Equality University. This once-a-year conference had no entry fee for Texas State students and was an all day event. Equality University provided panels and meetings with guest speakers and a chance to engage with other attendees and explore how all identities effect individual relationships and social dynamics in the world. The event also helped to create a better understanding of the many identities that make us who we are. I truly felt fortunate to be able to attend the event because it taught me how to handle sensitive situations that many don’t understand. A large amount of people don’t know how to address sensitive subject matter such as those Equality University aimed to tackle, especially when trying to avoid offending anyone. I felt extremely lucky to be a part of an experience in which everyone who attended learned how to navigate through such issues. 

 

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A list of guidelines and rules to stick to throughout the day. Photo by Alexandra Cochran.

Equality University offered a safe environment to discuss topics like race, sexual orientation, gender, disability, social class, gentrification and religion without feeling guilty or discouraged. Throughout the day, there were counselors in private rooms available for students as they listened to guest speakers discuss important topics. A special keynote speaker by the name of Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed stuck out to me specifically. Ahmed is a Los Angeles resident, activist and founder of the South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), which encourages South Asian American youth to have a political voice and get involved in the electoral process. She also shared how important it is for students to do their own work and to educate themselves in trying times. Ahmed spent time during her panel to recognize the beliefs of other religions and acknowledge the many differences between cultures, which I especially appreciated. After researching Ahmed, I found that she co-hosts a podcast called #GoodMuslimBadMuslim, which discusses the fine line between what makes someone a “good” or “bad” Muslim. So basically, she’s a total girl boss and she sincerely inspires me. 

 

 

 

All in all, I genuinely feel that I have much more successful conversations with peers because of the experience and knowledge I gained from the convention. Not only for the sake of learning and the emotional connections I made, but also for my own personal growth and understanding. I highly recommend attending Equality University, which will be back to inspire students again in 2017. 

 

Featured image by Alexandra Cochran

 

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