As part two of my college campus organizing series, I will be focusing on the particular challenges and triumphs that one may face on a rural college campus.
As a student at the University of California, Davis, I know a thing or two about the rural college town life. Drive 5 minutes in any direction from our campus and you are likely to wind up in a field. There are about as many cows as first year. It’s easy to feel like no body is listening when you’re trying to protest inequalities on campus. But never fear! Use these tips as an outline for your feminist activism, and let me know if you have any more!
1. Unite Women Across Campus- In a rural town, there may not be many female icons nearby to draw upon for inspiration. It’s important to unite the women on campus because they are your only resources!
Make sure you address the concerns of women from diverse social and educational backgrounds. In a small rural community, diversity may seem hard to come by. Make sure to celebrate the voices that are not often heard and the faces that you do not normally see on campus.
Take the time to appreciate women who are role models in the community; this will inspire others to achieve locally as well.
2. Think Local- In the small college town environment, students have a say in what happens off campus as well as on. If there are city policies that your group opposes, approach city officials or attend a city council meeting and voice your concerns. Work with community members to achieve your larger goals, and make sure you get feminist students registered to vote in your area!
Also, work with the local business association to address problems with stores in town and to find great co-sponsors for events. Find a listing of female owned businesses and celebrate them, or campaign for local stores to have gender-neutral restrooms!
3. Provide Entertainment- In towns where there’s not much happening, people want to attend events that are fun! Concerts, movie screenings, and dance parties are great ideas for fundraising or awareness building, and are sure to be packed.
Collaborating on an event with another student group will increase your resources and publicity. Work with other progressive groups, or break barriers in ways no one would have ever expected. If it feels like you are the only progressive group on campus, hold a debate!
4. Connect with (Secret) Feminist Campus- Again, with a lack of feminist inspiration to draw from in the community, it’s important to take advantage of whatever resources are available to you. Try to reach beyond the Women’s Studies Department (if you have one), and look for women professors in the math and sciences to align with as well.
5. Create a Sense of Community- It is really important to keep your student activist community tight. Sometimes in a rural environment it can begin to feel like you’re the only person who thinks and feels the way you do about political issues. Make sure that you care for one another. When your group is small, it’s important that you all like working with each other so that you can work twice as hard to cover the most ground.