Student Voices: Inspired to create change | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Inspired to create change | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Inspired to create change

In this guest post, Suzanne Pescod explains how a Women's and Gender Studies course has motivated her to take action

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and point of views of current Arts students around campus. Get to know our creative and passionate students through their “voices” and get a snapshot of life as an Arts undergrad. The views and opinions expressed within these student voices posts are solely those of the author. 

I’ve found that a teacher or professor at some point in their lives has inspired the majority of people I know. Sometimes it changed the direction of their education, sometimes it changed their focus and sometimes it just meant it was a great few months out of their life.

I feel as though I‘ve met my true educational inspiration a bit later than most.

I wish I had thought to take Women’s and Gender Studies seven years ago when I was first attending the U of A. But now, at the age of 29 and taking a few courses in order to complete my degree, I have been more inspired and pushed in Cristina Stasia’s Introduction to Gender Studies course than in any other course in my educational history.

This course has a lifeblood all of its own.

The course, the professor and the timing have all come together at the right moment in my life to provide me with an incredible experience.

For those of you attending the U of A, if you have ever had the pleasure of being in one of Dr. Stasia’s courses, you already know what I am talking about. For those of you who haven’t, I would seriously recommend looking into it.

This course isn’t about teaching you a definition, memorizing a fact or being part of a mild discussion. This course has a lifeblood all of its own.

I’ll admit that I was hesitant in the first class. When Dr. Stasia talked about the discussions that carried over from classroom to social media to online forums, I thought ‘yeah right.’

policyclassSix weeks later, I see it happening. The course has inspired and empowered so many classmates in such a short amount of time, myself included.  I’ve found myself engaging in conversations with feminists around the world, researching topics that affect our city’s policies and advocating for change…all outside of the course requirements.

When you read stories about university students taking action, working towards changes and creating a better society, I was never a part of anything like that at the U of A. Being a part of Women’s and Gender Studies is the first time I have felt the push to change the world. Or at least a small part of our world.

This is due to the encouragement and passion of a very dedicated professor. You will see her name right now in the media, advocating for schools to start teaching consent. Can you believe Alberta doesn’t teach consent in their sexual education programs? This course helps you discover the many problems we haven’t identified, and Dr. Stasis has shown us the practical ways we can get those issues into the limelight.

Social media, policy writing, meeting with actual politicians (and all in the first six weeks) has transformed a classroom of students into activists for human rights. By the way, that’s what feminism is – equal rights for men and women.

Currently myself and another student have taken on the topic of #equalpayforequalwork. We have created a blog, a website, a Twitter account and have immersed ourselves in this project. Of course we have ambitions of doing well on our project…but since the day we started this project, the goal has never been to quit when the class is over. We have created a petition for the appropriate provincial ministries to make equal pay a priority agenda in the legislature. The petition has already been discussed on social media by politicians, and signed by Councillor Amarjeet Sohi.

To say I’m engaged in the material and the course would be an understatement.  It is truly a course that has not only brought me inspiration, but it has made me act upon that inspiration and look forward to many years of active involvement in equal rights conversations and actions.

“I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.” – Gloria Steinem

The photos shown are from a February 4th class visit by City of Edmonton Councillor Bev Esslinger, who gave students feedback on the policies they had written to address local gender and social justice issues. To read more about this project, click here

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About Suzanne Pescod

Suzanne Pescod

Suzanne is a part-time student who is completing a degree in Latin American Studies with an English minor. She also holds a diploma from MacEwan University’s Public Relations program, and currently works full-time in the communications field.