Saint Mary’s Feminists United club held a rally Saturday afternoon in front of Le Mans Hall to mark one month until election day. Echoing other women’s marches around the country also held Saturday, the rally centered around speakers who addressed the importance of women getting out to vote in elections.
“We are trying to highlight voting right now with the midterm election coming up,” Feminists United treasurer and senior Libbey Detcher said. “Traditionally, college students have a really low voter turnout.”
Feminists United’s mission is to empower and give community to women. Each year, they hold events like feminist trivia, work the women’s health fair, help with Take Back the Night and sponsor voting events such as the one on Saturday to encourage women to get out and vote.
Feminists United president and junior Madison Mata said events like the rally are especially important to learn about and provide resources to assist the voting process.
“I am from Texas and whenever I have to request my absentee ballot, I get really confused,” Mata said about her own experiences.
Detcher said women’s voices are too often quieted in society.
“I think some voices tend to be underrepresented or even stifled sometimes,” she said.
The speakers at the event were all women in government offices who shared their stories and discussed the importance of women voting.
The first to speak was Saint Mary’s alum Rachel Tomas Morgan, an at-large member of the common council in South Bend. Tomas Morgan talked about how she tried to encourage many people to run for city council seats before someone turned the question back on her and asked why she didn’t run herself.
Tomas Morgan said she originally thought she didn’t have the knowledge, qualifications or experience to run. She had asked 60 people their opinions on her running before she felt validated enough to try.
In her speech, Tomas Morgan said a man would never question himself so much before running. She encouraged women to take more active roles in reaching for positions of authority and decision making.
“Women need to ask ‘Why not me?’” Tomas Morgan said.
The next speaker was state representative Maureen Bauer.
“We do not have a truly representative government,” she said.
Bauer noted that St. Joseph County has a general assembly made up of 77% men and that women in St. Joseph County make around 72 cents to every dollar a man makes, a typical trend across the country.
In her argument, Bauer used statistics to encourage women to fight for their rights and encouraged involvement in politics, whether it be voting or running for office themselves.
State senate candidate Melinda Fountain spoke last. Fountain detailed having faced harassment while in ROTC and more subtle snubbing as a diplomat for the U.S. Foreign Service.
Fountain voiced frustrations at the continuous discrimination she has endured because of her gender. She said she decided to make a difference in political representation, starting small by running for her township board and now running for state senate. She advised the audience at Saint Mary’s to believe in themselves regardless of what statistics may show or what others may say.