Women’s Resource Center series aims to empower students

Jonathan Whitehead, Staff Writer

Loyola’s Women’s Resource Center is aiming to create a series of events this semester designed to empower students to raise their voices and fight for what they believe in.

Rosalind Wiseman, the author behind the book that inspired “Mean Girls,” delivered the first keynote in that series this semester.

“You are absolutely capable of wanting to change the world for a better place, and being upset as a young person is a good thing,” Wiseman said.

According to Victoria Blondell, division leader at the Women’s Resource Center, raising your voice becomes difficult when people live in fear of offending people whose opinions differ from theirs.

Wiseman spoke to Loyola students about the feelings of anxiety that stem from having these controversial conversations and highlighted the essence of fighting through these stresses to revolt against the prevalence of silencing opinions that differ from yours.

Wiseman has spoken with college students around the country about today’s normality of silencing the ideas and opinions of your peers during times of high tension, which Wiseman said results in introversion, groupthink, and unresolved conflicts.

The purpose of the center’s semester-long workshops is,”to provide students with skills that will prepare them for leadership and professional opportunities to help develop their careers and to establish professional networks,” according to Blondell.

Blondell said that the center aims to empower all people, especially women and other marginalized groups, who are often silenced due to their identities that go against the systemic status quo we have historically possessed.

During the conference, Wiseman spoke about the systemic injustices she had seen during her youth, and she said she knew from a young age that she wanted to do something to make the world a better place. She also said that vocalizing opinions is challenging in today’s world, especially for young adults where opinions are silenced to avoid offending others.

Wiseman added that an obstacle faced by revolutionists who fight systemic issues is that people in positions of power don’t think they can be brought down from their hierarchical pedestal because they’ve assumed that their hierarchy has secured their respect from others.

One of Wiseman’s key points during the conference was that “respect” is defined as an earned admiration from one’s actions, and individuals choose who they give their respect to. But, she said that the social norms in place give people the presumption that they must be respected, which results in those questioning the status quo to be seen as disrespectful, and a threat to the power of people in positions of authority.

Loyola senior Serena Ruiz said that Wiseman’s reassurance of choosing who you give respect to opened her eyes on why it is important to note the difference between the respect you give to someone, versus the respect you give when acknowledging that someone’s opinion is different than yours.

“I have always had heated debates with my stepfather, and even though I still love him, I didn’t know what to do about the fact that he thinks so differently from me, Ruiz said.“The workshop helped me realize how to separate my respect for someone from my respect for their opinion.”

The Women’s Resource Center will continue to host keynote speakers weekly on Fridays throughout the semester.