by Harrison Chute
Fitchburg State is about to be cultured. In celebration of Women’s History Month, the University has been running a series of events throughout the month of March. History professor Dr. Susan Williams, the planning committee supervisor, identified the program’s objective as “raising consciousness about women and women’s history.”
The final event is a screening of the film “Letters from Juliet” on Mar. 26, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ellis White Auditorium. This romantic movie is set in Verona, Italy, which Fitchburg State has a history with. “We have a study abroad program that goes to Verona, and so we have good contacts with people in Verona,” Williams noted. “We had somebody here last semester who actually worked on the film.”
The six students on the planning committee have collaborated for a two semester independent study and decided on the Italian theme in their approach to “pick something general enough that we can go in a lot of different directions.”
The students work during the fall included planning the program, figuring out events and how to fund them, doing all of the room booking, and arranging press releases. “They learn how to essentially be public historians,” Williams said, as students work around the campus while getting to know people and utilize resources. During March, the committee is responsible for making sure the programs run smoothly, for introducing speakers, and dealing with any problem that may arise during the production.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Williams said. “I get to know the students really well, they get to know each other really well. They form into a team and they learn how to work collaboratively.”
A recent development is the Facebook page, started a few years ago, used to promote the programs and reach out to as many people as possible. “[This is] also teaching students about audience building,” Williams stated.
With controversies in Egypt over women’s protests and events like One Billion Rising, a global effort to end violence against women, having taken place on Valentine’s Day, it would seem that Women’s History Month in March couldn’t have come at a better time. Raising awareness about women’s issues, however, doesn’t stop in April for Williams, who teaches Intro to Women’s Studies. “I’ve had a lot of students over the years in the women’s studies, and women history classes, and they’re always surprised by how much they didn’t know about women,” she said. “They’re mostly female students but male students too, because it’s not just about one sex or the other. Gender relations are just that, they’re relations.”