AAUW Student Organization Takes Off at Mizzou

September 27, 2012

Although AAUW only recently launched our first student organizations on college and university campuses, the student org at the University of Missouri is flourishing. After hearing about the group through a women’s empowerment residence hall on campus, senior Taaj Reaves attended a few meetings, became a member, and is now the AAUW-MU student org president. While it is only her first semester in that role, Reaves has big plans for the group this year and was excited to share her experience with AAUW Dialog.

Adviser Jane Biers and President Taaj Reaves at the Women’s Leadership Conference in Columbia, Missouri

AAUW: What types of meetings and events do you host on campus?

Reaves: Once or twice a month, we host a female guest speaker from the Missouri community. For example, we will host the president of the Missouri State Women’s Political Caucus. We also host screenings of documentaries such as Miss Representation and facilitate voter registration drives. In addition, we are seeking university funding to host a Women’s Awareness Week with topics and presentations on the issues of wage gap disparity, women’s access to health care, and the glass ceiling for women in politics.

AAUW: Do you partner with a local branch or other student organizations on campus?

Reaves: Absolutely! In the past, there have been social opportunities for our members to network with local branch members, and we are looking forward to working with our local branch in the near future. We are very active with other women’s groups on campus and have forged great relationships with organizations such as Stop Traffic and the Feminist Student Union. We are also involved with the on-campus Women’s Center.

AAUW: What are some of the best benefits for AAUW student organization members?

Reaves: The best benefit women get from our student organization is the connections they make with their peers and mentors. We enjoy going to our local branch meetings. Our members get a chance to hear from women in a wide range of career fields through our various guest speakers, and many of our members have gone on to intern with these guests.

AAUW: What has been your favorite part of being involved with the AAUW-MU student organization?

Reaves: My favorite part of being involved with AAUW has been the amazing opportunities I have had to meet and connect with like-minded young women. Being president allows me so much room for growth and development. I have seen my leadership style change tremendously. I am so passionate about this organization and what it does for women and girls, so being able to share that message with others is very important and a huge benefit of being a part of AAUW-MU.

AAUW: Do you have any advice for other AAUW student organizations?

AAUW-MU student organization members Ariel Park, Alexa Henning, and Carolyn Cianciolo tabled on campus at a fall welcome event last year.

Reaves: Be enthused about the message of AAUW, and have a passion for it. Your energy will shine through and show others how important it is to be an advocate of women’s issues. The best ideas are born through conversation and collaboration. We suggest making your social media usage — Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr — as relevant as possible. Ask questions of your followers, congratulate high achievers, and have conversations. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for money! AAUW’s mission is not one-dimensional, and there are topics that all university students should be informed on. Thus it is important for the greater community and campus to support AAUW efforts!

If you are inspired to start an AAUW student organization on your college or university campus, send us an e-mail at coll-univ@aauw.org with “Student Organization” in the subject line. You can also check out our Program in a Box for more information on forming an AAUW student org.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Intern Courtney Douglas.

By:   |   September 27, 2012

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