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Revived Feminist ND aims to discuss identity

| Tuesday, October 8, 2019

In the hopes of engaging with feminist ideas consistent with the mission of the University, the recently-revived Feminist ND will host their first general meeting of the year in the McNeill Room in LaFortune Student Center from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Senior Dinuka Cooray, president of Feminist ND, said she wants the club to provide a space to discuss all topics relating to feminism.

“Feminism is a word that has a rather negative connotation, and one that has been historically difficult to define,” Cooray said. “… One definition is that it is the movement to achieve social, economic and political equal opportunity on the basis of the sexes, which generally sums up the motivations of our club … We don’t want to limit our discussion because of the political weight carried by the term ‘feminism.’”

The club was founded in the 2016-2017 academic year, Cooray said, and its founding students graduated in 2018.

“With the busy timing of the spring semester, and with these three wonderful women graduating, the club struggled to transition to the next academic year,” she said. “… I worked with SAO to restart the club for the 2019-2020 academic year.”

Junior and vice president of the club Yuanmeng He said the club serves the need for feminist conversations and ideas for the tri-campus community.

“This club is all about promoting feminism within the student populations of Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s,” she said. “Feminism benefits everyone … the term ‘feminism’ is incredibly important, because in the end, what we are fighting for is the sexes to be treated equally and to have equal opportunity.”

Cooray said she hopes to create a unique identity for the club outside of existing groups that speak on issues of feminism.

“As a new club, we are working through what sort of events to host,” Cooray said. “We don’t want to overlap with similar organizations such as College Democrats or the Gender Relations Center, etc.,  but want to fill spaces that may not be filled, and to collaborate with other organizations when necessary.”

The club has no political affiliation, He said, and she wants to retain an apolitical stance.

“We do not have a political agenda, but want to serve as a resource for education and advocacy on these topics, hoping to promote intellectual discussion and progress,” He said. “These discussions are hard, but crucial. The point of conversations is not for everyone to agree.”

Feminism is not just for women, He said, and members of any gender are welcome.

“Our club advisor is male, and we really appreciate the help from him,” He said. “It is a general misconception that feminism is only about female empowerment — it is more about giving equal opportunities to all genders, about freeing all genders from the biases and injustice perpetrated by patriarchy.”

Cooray said she believes the Notre Dame community has the potential to foster feminist discussion and thought.

“Being a Catholic university, of course, brings about a — I don’t want to say challenge — but it is a unique atmosphere to a lot of colleges,” Cooray said. “But the two terms don‘t have to be exclusive. It is possible for students to be both Catholic and feminist.”

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