11 NextGEN crazyAcross both campuses, feminism is an important issue to many of our students. Several years ago, Meera S. ('17) founded the Feminism Club and former middle school faculty member Carla Pugliese headed the Girls Leadership International (GLI) club. After Meera and Carla left to pursue their further learning goals, the clubs continued. This year, a new club was started at the middle school — NextGEN.

NextGEN (Girls Empowerment Network) is dedicated to spreading awareness and discussing gender roles in our society and at Nueva. The club is led by Nueva faculty members Gretchen Kellough and Lelia Youn.

“Last year, the Middle School Feminism Club was all eighth graders, so this year there was no club to talk about the important issues of gender and gender equality,” explained one member.

All of the members are passionate about gender equality and look forward to meeting each week. However, one member said, “We are all excited to not just talk about these issues, but to take action through fundraising and increasing awareness throughout our community.”

Eighth grader Anna I. said, “I have been inspired to take action by a friend on the East Coast who started an organization called the Period Monster that plans to distribute feminine hygiene projects for free to people in need.”

“NextGEN is an awesome community because we know that our opinions will be heard and valued even when those same opinions, offered outside of our club, might be met with resistance or confusion,” said club member and eighth grader Charlotte B. “There seems to be an issue with how the label 'feminist' is perceived. We identify as feminists because we think men and women are equal.”

Nearly in unison, Charlotte’s peers responded, “There are many people who do not know that is actually what it means to be a feminist.”

Anna explained further, “There is a quote I love about the feminist movement that says, ‘We are not trying to pull men down, we are trying to push women up.’ It is true that feminism is empowering to women but that is only because men have had power over women for so long.”10 NextGEN back1

Several times this year, the group members said, there have been issues and conflicts around gender that come up in conversations around campus. The club talks about how to be an up-stander in a way that does not escalate an argument but can provide perspective and hopefully defuse conflicts.

Another student, seventh grader Riyana S., said, “Talking about this issue can really help change the problem. The feedback we give should be informative, not demanding that someone change their opinion. People do not like being told they are wrong.”

A member shared a recent interaction where a classmate was asked if they were a feminist. The classmate answered “No” and the member then explained that all feminists want is for men and women to be treated equally. After the clarification, the classmate responded with, “Then I guess I actually am a feminist.”

“This year, NextGEN is working towards taking action to promote awareness and provide space for positive, well-informed discussions to take place. Some projects they are working on include promoting girls in STEM at the Lower School and organizing an International Women’s Week in March to coincide with the International Women’s Day on March 8,” said Lelia Youn, one of the faculty advisors.

Gretchen Kellough, the other faculty advisor, added, “Currently NextGEN members are in the process of organizing presentations for that week, and creating informational and inspirational posters to share around campus. Members are also organizing fundraising projects to continue to promote female well-being on campus and around the Bay Area.”

NextGEN, open to all middle school students, meets on Fridays in L107 from 11:35­ am to 12:25 pm.

 


January 17, 2018

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