5 Ways to Crush the Patriarchy on Campus in 2017

January 03, 2017
Sarah Best, 2016-2017 AAUW National Student Advisory Council member

Sarah Best, 2016-2017 AAUW National Student Advisory Council member


Let’s face it: 2016 was exhausting. Between a draining presidential election and an increase in hate crimes around the country, it’s been hard to stay positive. While we wait for the new administration to take shape and examine how it will act on AAUW’s policy priorities, student voices are needed now more than ever in our fight for women’s equality. In this time of uncertainty, I have been reenergized by my campus social justice network, especially the friends and allies I have made through my AAUW student organization (AAUW Pitt) and AAUW student affiliates across the country.

College students truly are the change agents of tomorrow, and as Sarah McBride beautifully said at AAUW’s 2016 National Conference for College Student Women Leaders:

“Our college campuses should look like
what we want our world to look like in 15 years.”

– Sarah McBride

We have our work cut out for us, but together we can ensure that we are fighting every day for women’s equality and that our campuses manifest the change we want to see in the world. AAUW Pitt provides a diverse and inclusive space on campus, and we plan on being even more vocal in crushing the patriarchy! Here are some ways to take action this spring.


January: Demand Reproductive Rights

On January 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion across the country, was passed. Despite this success, we still see countless attacks on a woman’s right to choose. Honor the work of the pro-choice movement — tell your campus community that we will not back down on the fight for reproductive rights in 2017.

Pro tip: Host a pro-choice rally in a busy place on campus, or volunteer at your local clinic.

University of Pittsburgh Student Organization Involvement Fair. Tabling AAUW collateral and registering new members.

University of Pittsburgh Student Organization Involvement Fair


February: Practice and Promote Self-Care

While activism is necessary, it can also take a toll on your body and mind. Make time to let go of stress and take care of yourself. AAUW Pitt loves to have coloring sessions to relax and reenergize the movement to fight the patriarchy! Remember what Audre Lorde said:

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation,
and that is an act of political warfare.”

– Audre Lorde

Pro tip: On February 13, participate in #NaturalDay, a body positivity movement created by my fellow AAUW National Student Advisory Council member Sanah Jivani.


March: Honor Women’s History

March is Women’s History Month. What better time to celebrate the women who fought before us and the current women leaders in your life? Spend time learning about feminist heroes who are left out of our history books — especially feminists in marginalized communities.

Pro tip: Energize your campus by hosting a screening of the movie She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, a documentary about the history of the women’s liberation movement. After the film, discuss why feminism is still needed today, what steps we can take to make the movement more inclusive, and turn it into a social media campaign!


April: Combat Campus Sexual Assault and the Gender Pay Gap

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Campus sexual assault is one of the most pressing policy issues on our campuses today, with 1 in 5 women at risk of being sexually assaulted on campus. The numbers are even more staggering for LGBTQ people and people of color. They are two times more likely to be assaulted during their time at college than their straight, white counterparts.

Pro tip: Collaborate with your Title IX Coordinator to plan a visual display to raise awareness or ask people to write messages of support to survivors in a public place.

Students at University of Pittsburgh stand in front of their sexual assault awareness project, featuring red cups, to draw attention to victims of sexual assault.

University of Pittsburgh Sexual Assault Awareness Month red cup project

The gender pay gap is another pressing AAUW policy issue. On average, women are paid 80 cents to each white man’s dollar, and that number is worse for women of color.

Pro tip: April 4 is Equal Pay Day, the day women’s average salaries catch up to what white men made the year before. Advocate for equal pay on your campus by holding an unequal pay day bake sale.

University of Iowa student org seels baked good at a discount to women during an Equal Pay Day bake sale fundraiser

University of Iowa student organization Equal Pay Day bake sale fundraiser


For more ideas on how to fight the patriarchy and
to create a coalition of feminist change agents,

join or start an AAUW student organization on your campus.


This post was written by AAUW National Student Advisory Council member and AAUW student organization president Sarah Best.



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