Gender-based violence remains a serious concern for students across the globe. As part of Stony Brook’s commitment to fostering gender equality, the university hosted a HeForShe Ideathon in December 2016 for students to brainstorm solutions to end gender-based violence on college campuses.
In 2015, Stony Brook joined with UN Women’s HeForShe solidarity movement as one of 10 University IMPACT Champions committed to taking bold game-changing action to achieve gender equality within and beyond their institutions. The Ideathon is one of many ways in which the University has engaged students to talk about the issues and share ideas.
At the student-run event, there were tables reserved for groups who were presenting and separate tables for those observing the event. Seats filled up quickly, but the event had an open atmosphere that encouraged students to get up and talk with one another about the issues instead of staying seated.
“It was great to see everyone recognize the issue and everyone express their own thoughts on how to fix it in an environment with people who all have the same beliefs and all feel the same way about equality and gender issues,” said Alexa Titone ‘20, one of the presenters for Table 6.
Each presentation was judged by a panel made up of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. The four top presentations, which were determined a few days after the event, were sent to HeForShe to be shared globally along with the ideas generated by the other nine participating HeForShe University Impact Champion Schools.
One of the group presentations came from Pi Lambda Phi, a fraternity on campus. Their idea was based on incorporating training on the issues of gender-based violence and gender equality into the requirements that fraternities must fulfill, like philanthropy, event requirements and training requirements.
“Ways that our plan could be realized could be through gender violence courses similar to those that already exist like Red Watch Band as well as making fraternities and sororities a part of the gender conversation by having them host different gender-based violence or gender based events on campus,” Jeremiah Brock ’19, a fraternity member, said.
Another idea came from a group named Our Genderation, who came up with a “second-step” plan that would be equivalent to Stony Brook’s Q course for people who committed academic dishonesty. “This course will be fostered through a curriculum that the students and the faculty and the UN Women council will come up with. And this will fight the stigma that campus sexual violence is avoidable if it’s not legally pressed,” Lyl Suh ‘18, a member of Our Genderation, said.
Another idea from Titone’s group focused on improving the structure and curriculum of what’s already implemented at Stony Brook.
“We came up with our presentation on the spot, but we kind of went along the lines of Stony Brook’s program of Haven, along with the Introduction to Stony Brook class that we all as freshman are required to take,” Titone explained, “We want to expand on that program and maybe apply it to other Universities to make it more of a required course as you progress through your years at Stony Brook and to make it more inclusive of gender issues and include that more in the curriculum to raise awareness on the issues and try to find a solution.”
The night’s open and supportive environment was appreciated by the presenters and those observing.
“I think it was really cool that we had people approaching us and asking about our idea and give us their feedback. There was a conversation instead of just us coming up with things. I feel like at Stony Brook, things can be kind of cold and no one really talks to each other – but it was cool that all these people are here to share with us and help us with our ideas,” said Mahum Siddiqui ‘19.
“This program was a huge success in my opinion,” Brock added. “It’s kind of awesome to see how many people, regardless of gender, really care about making sure that everyone should be equal.”
The Winning Ideas
The judges took several days to carefully review the ideas before selecting the four presentations that have now been shared with UN Women. The winning presentations were made by Pi Lambda Phi, Our Genderation, Togender and Millennial Mind Shapers. The videos of their presentations are now available on Stony Brook’s HeForShe site for students and faculty to review. The HeForShe steering committee is reviewing these ideas to see how they can be incorporated on campus.
By Joshua Pietzold with Shelley Catalano