New Women’s Center director interacts with students at event
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 03:02
Geneva Murray, new Women’s Center director, got to meet students and discuss women’s activism with them as part of the Crucial Conversations event on Tuesday.
The event was held at 6 p.m. in the Women’s Center.
“Crucial Conversations events are very informal and not meant to be a lecture, but more of an opportunity for the campus and community to meet and discuss certain topics,” Murray said.
According to Murray, this specific conversation was centered on discussing what led her to work at the UW Oshkosh Center, as well as her history in working with nonprofit organizations for women’s rights.
“What really drew me to UW Oshkosh was the inclusiveness program on this campus,” Murray said.
The event began with everyone signing in and introducing themselves with what encourages them to become more involved in societal issues.
“My hope was that this is an opportunity to talk about what encourages others to get involved with their community,” Murray said.
A survey was conducted at the end of the event that asked questions about Murray’s talk, the event in general and ideas to help the Center grow.
“I thought the survey was good for input, and with that input I hope they continue having Crucial Conversations in the future,” Oshkosh sophomore Marie Birenbaum said. “I would like to go to more.”
Murray came to Oshkosh in Nov. 2012 and has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Texas Tech University, a master’s degree in public policy from George Washington University and Ph.D. in women’s studies from the University of York in England, according to the Center’s website.
“I’ve done teaching, worked in D.C. for educational programming at the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum and was an intern, and later the public policy coordinator for the Eating Disorders Coalition.”
After Murray got her Ph.D., she wanted to become more involved in supporting women’s empowerment.
“I wanted a supportive place for students to talk about ‘what is it that makes you feel big and feel good about that,’ or ‘what can we do to support you personally, academically and professionally,’” Murray said.
Murray discussed her love and obsession with roller derby and how she figured out the reason she probably liked the sport so much was that it involves women being tough in an unconventional way.
“I wanted to figure out ways that I could take what I have learned in roller derby, like being active, being outdoors and put it in my work,” Murray said. “So then I started looking at women’s centers on university campuses.”
Birenbaum said she loved Murray’s speech at the event and thought it was very engaging.
“It’s so interesting to see how she got here and it’s interesting to know what other people think about [women’s studies],” Birenbaum said. “She’s someone from our generation and it’s cool to see what they can do and what other girls can do.”
Birenbaum, a women’s studies minor and volunteer at the Center, said she is excited about the Center because it’s intriguing and interesting to her.
“It’s something new that I’m being exposed to, because I don’t know anyone else that is interested in this like I am,” Birenbaum said. “I’m always up for new things.”
Birenbaum said at first, she got some criticism for liking women’s studies because her friends thought it would be militant or bitter.
“The myths that society holds kind of bother me,” Birenbaum said. “There are a lot of assumptions that people have, but assumptions are always wrong since people don’t try to learn and understand more.”
Michael Lahti, Oshkosh freshman and philosophy major, said it was his first time being at one of the meetings, but he came because of his interest in social advocacy.
“I enjoyed [the event] very much,” Lahti said. “I plan on going to the event tomorrow and probably more in the future.”
According to Murray, the only event that includes a fee is Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, while all other events are free and open to the public.
“The net proceeds [for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes] will be donated to organizations in the community that are focused on ending gender violence,” Murray said.
For more information on all events organized by the Oshkosh Women’s Center, visit its website or go to its Facebook page.