Posts Tagged ‘Tacoma’

“How many states do you think have 100 percent equal pay between women and men?”

This is one of three questions I asked while I tabled for six hours at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, for Equal Pay Day last week. Equipped with posters, pamphlets, and a variety of information on pay equity, I educated students — one chocolate coin at a time — about the pay gap.

I had a strategy to reel in students. I yelled, “Free chocolate!” and heads turned. Once students approached my table and started reaching for the shiny chocolate coins, I asked them, “Do you know what the pay gap is in Washington?”

They looked puzzled. Some asked for clarification, and everyone had a guess as to how much women make compared to men.

“Sixty cents?”

“Eighty-one cents?”

“Forty-seven cents?”

“Seventy-five cents?”

“Ninety cents?”

“It’s actually 77 cents!” I would reply. Some students were disappointed because their guesses were so close, and others were disappointed because they thought Washington women’s average wages would be higher. I gave them all chocolate.

“Do you want more chocolate?” I asked. Everyone did.

“How many states do not have a pay gap at all?” This stumped everyone. I heard answers anywhere between one and 10. Some replied with specific states: Oregon, Colorado, Idaho. When I told them that the answer was zero, they all looked shocked.

More chocolate.

“OK, final question: Why is Equal Pay Day today?” No one responded. Some thought for a little while, but no one could come up with an answer. “This is the date the average women would have to work until to make the same amount of money men made in 2011. So when men work for 12 months, women have to work 16 to make the same amount.” That was probably the most shocking to the passing students.

“Wow, that really sucks.”

“Are you serious?”

“No way!”

To improve their spirits, I gave them more chocolate.

This was my routine: question, answer, chocolate. I was surprised by the varying opinions. While some thought that women made less than half what men do, others felt that the pay gap was a thing of the past. My generation seems confused about equal pay for equal work, at least the people whom I informally surveyed with chocolate incentives.

Pay equity is an issue that I feel all college students should be concerned about. We are not far from a time when we will need to find jobs and be financially independent. We should be concerned that half of the population is still not making the same amount in wages as the other half.

On Equal Pay Day, April 17, we succeeded in making the issue of equal pay move from a national public policy issue to something personal to the students. Awareness is the first step toward change.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Katie Donahoe.

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“If your vagina could talk, what would it say?”

If you’ve never seen The Vagina Monologues, you may be wondering what exactly it is you are getting into when you buy your ticket. They talk about vaginas, but how much? Is it sad? Is it funny? What is The Vagina Monologues?

I thought the exact same things when I first saw the play during my freshman year of college. I was skeptical initially, but after seeing the show I practically vowed never to miss another performance. The Vagina Monologues talks about real concerns that real women have about their vaginas, their relationships, their attitudes, violence, homelessness, birth, sexual assault, femininity, disaster, life, and everything in between. The stories you hear have a very strong impact, and it makes for one hell of a show.

Now I get to experience the show from behind the scenes — I am producing this year’s performance along with two other amazing women at my school, Pacific Lutheran University. I also have the opportunity to perform in a monologue with them. Having this kind of leadership position allows me to be a part of something I love and to see how being a part of the show can be extremely valuable to those involved. Some of the issues addressed in monologues are emotionally heavy, and some cast members may have dealt with some of the same problems. Being on stage and performing is a way to tell a story that may not necessarily be yours, but it could be very close. It is therapeutic in a unique way.

Not only does this show benefit those who get to see it and the women performing, it also benefits one local and one international organization that address violence against women. The Vagina Monologues is a nonprofit production, and all proceeds from tickets and merchandise go toward beneficiaries picked by the performers as well as the V-Day campaign. This year’s production will benefit the women and girls in Haiti who were affected by the rise in sexual assault and violence since the earthquake in 2010 (picked by the V-Day campaign) and the YWCA in Tacoma, Washington (picked by me and my wonderful directors).

There is endless value in attending, participating in, and supporting a production of The Vagina Monologues, whether it is on a college campus or in a local theater. I encourage everyone to see a local performance of The Vagina Monologues this February to support the women in the show and those who benefit from the proceeds. Check out events.vday.org/ to find a performance near you.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Kaitlyn Donahoe.

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