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Shades of Ebony to host Women’s Week

| Sunday, March 23, 2014

This week, Shades of Ebony hosts its second annual Women’s Week, a series of presentations, discussions and other events designed to celebrate women at Notre Dame.
Carina Reich, secretary of Shades of Ebony, said the intent of this year’s event is to continue a discussion about the role of women on campus, in the workforce and in society.
“We see Women’s Week as our little Shades of Ebony meetings at large, because we get together as a women’s group every other weekend to discuss topics on women that are important to us, and we want to share it with the rest of campus,” Reich said.
The first Women’s Week in 2013 coincided with the 40th anniversary of the introduction of coeducation at Notre Dame and consisted of a dinner, a prayer service and a service event at St. Margaret’s House. Ray’Von Jones, President of Shades of Ebony, said the positive response the club received last year prompted them to expand the number and size of the events this year.
Many of the week’s events are co-sponsored by other organizations including Campus Ministry, the Gender Relations center, several individual alumnae and a number of residence halls and other student clubs. Rachel Wallace, Shades of Ebony’s Marketing Director, said the club saw an increase in the number of people involved, both in terms of sponsorship and student interest.
“We’ve got a lot of other student organizations,” Wallace said. “For our prayer service we have Harmonia, since they’re an all-women’s choir, coming to sing . . . for our final event on Friday we have Wabruda, our brother organization, helping us with our cake walk on Friday. We try to reach out to a lot of other organizations around campus.”
The week will kick off with a prayer service Monday in Ryan Hall, featuring the a cappella group Harmonia as well as student reflections. On Tuesday, there will be a screening of “Miss Representation,” a documentary about women’s portrayal in the media. In addition, the topic of the Gender Relations Center’s regular Sister Jean Roundtable will be “Different Paths to Womanhood: the Intersection of Career and Family.”
“We want people to know that there are a lot of prominent women on campus and prominent women who graduated from Notre Dame,” Shades of Ebony historian Chizo Ekechukwu said. “Bringing those people in to speak and having them at our roundtable about different career paths on womanhood [will let] women know on campus that there are different outlooks on life, because a lot of women at Notre Dame focus so much on academics that they forget about family and forget about the intersections between the two.”
On Wednesday, a group of students will have an ice cream social at St. Margaret’s House, a day center for women in downtown South Bend.
“[The week is] not only just focused on Notre Dame but also on the outer community and how as Notre Dame women we can incorporate those worlds,” Reich said.
Shades of Ebony will host the Celebration of Women Dinner in McKenna Hall Thursday night. The formal event will feature Grace Watkins, a freshman at Notre Dame; Frances Shavers, former chief of staff to President John Jenkins; and Katie Washington, Notre Dame’s first black valedictorian. Ekechukwu said the presentations will explore National Women’s History Month themes of “character, courage and commitment.”
Jones said even though the group moved the dinner to a bigger location this year the event is still over capacity.
“The RSVPs were crazy,” Jones said. “There was a point where we were like, ‘Oh, we need to get people to RSVP, and then it was like, maybe we shouldn’t.’ It was really great to see that; the last day just jumped.”
The week, which also consists of a display in the library Fishbowl, a toiletry drive for St. Margaret’s House and posters around campus, will conclude with a cakewalk fundraiser on Friday, which Jones said will benefit the Robinson Community Learning Center.
Jones said the events are open to the public and meant for students of both genders.
“By coming, people are saying that they want to celebrate women and that women are important on this campus, and it’s something important for us to be promoting,” she said.

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Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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