Finding Sisterhood with My AAUW Student Organization
I describe my journey with AAUW as a learning experience. The AAUW student organization at UCLA has allowed me to interact with students whose definition of feminism is different from mine. Above all, it’s taught me about the flexibility of feminism and the power of sisterhood.
My AAUW involvement started when I was attending Mt. San Jacinto College. In 2014, I participated in an Elect Her workshop and received a generous scholarship from the AAUW Redlands (CA) Branch, which helped me to pay for my first year of housing at UCLA, where I planned to transfer.
At UCLA, I expected to join the AAUW student organization. To my surprise, UCLA, an internationally renowned university, was not an AAUW college/university partner and did not have a student organization. I tried to join other feminist organizations on campus, but I couldn’t find the sense of community I was looking for in them. I decided to start an AAUW student organization myself to create a space for women from different backgrounds and ideologies to come together.
The AAUW student org at UCLA does not focus on partisan or ideological differences. Our leadership board includes nine women from diverse backgrounds, including ethnicity, language, religion, age, and major. And our first meeting, to our surprise, drew about 10 men. We were pleased to learn to learn firsthand that men on campus are also interested in advocating for gender equality. While we acknowledge the differences in our group, we recognize that we are stronger together because of our ultimate goal to achieve gender equality.
Women are raised to compete with each other; many of us are (however unintentionally) aware of who is the prettiest, who has the best purse, or even who is the best mom. Patriarchy trains us to hold each other to impossible standards. Sisterhood, on the other hand, means women coming together as a group to create solutions that end social restrictions and support one another in the fight against patriarchy. Seeing our leadership board work together as a group, regardless of our differences, is sisterhood at its core.
As a graduating senior, my ultimate hope for AAUW’s organization at UCLA is to see members from different ethnicities, genders, languages, and religions in the general meetings, determined to make a difference on campus.
This post was written by AAUW Student Organization Leader Ivelisse Porroa-Garcia.
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