The officers and members of The Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition would like to thank the Hunter faculty, administration, staff, and students for their support during the recent “Freedom on Our Terms: A New Agenda for Women and Girls” 30 Years after the National Women’s Conference” conference. The highly successful and publicized gathering on November 10 and 11 drew over 600 attendees from across the country.

We are grateful to President Jennifer Raab for her invaluable support in bringing the conference to Hunter. It would have been easier for one of the chief organizers, Liz Abzug, to hold the event at the school at which she teaches, Columbia University

President Raab’s generosity and support made it possible for Hunter to host this historic event. She also took time out of her busy schedule to give the welcoming speech along with Liz Abzug and HWRC President Jerin Alam. Many other members of the Hunter faculty, administration, and staff helped with the process. We are especially indebted to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Eija Ayravainen and Dean Michael Escott for all their technical and moral support. Dean Ayravainen even found time to attend the reception on Saturday, which included local politicians in attendance.

Many others contributed to the conference, including Professor Oza, Chair and Advisor of The Women and Gender Studies Program, who first introduced HWRC members to the conference organizers. Maria Arettines, the student liason for the program, also helped with the process. Countless staff members helped coordinate and facilitate the weekend long programs, including Debra Mileski, Lorraine Gallucci, Nancy B. Dodds, Andrew Silver, and Peter Plevritis, and countless others from facilities, central reservations, and the Kaye Playhouse.

Of course, we have to thank the Hunter attendees, which included current students, faculty and alumni. There were 40 Hunter members present, and this number does not include volunteers or organizers. A special note of thanks to Ben Siegel, Vice President of HWRC, who was the only male organizer, and whose responsibilities included coordinating the Hunter volunteers. His hard work, dedication, and passion for feminism are an inspiration to women and men alike and the conference could not have been possible without him.

We want to especially thank the volunteers, including HWRC secretary Sydney Cespedes, co-treasurers Sabrina Crimmins and Amanda D’Annucci, and other volunteers including Stacy Lewis, Emily Allen, Ester Zaltsman. Sharon H. Lipetz, Katrina Shah, Tanjida Afroz, Elana Bakst, Mariya Yefremova, Karen Abraham, Milena Abrahamyan, Yelena Kushnirova. Caitlin Ryan, Gretchen Kittel, Melissa Hurlburt, A’dam Farooqui, and countless others.

The organizers were very pleased with Hunter College, and afforded us a special privilege by naming the president and vice president of HWRC, Jerin Alam and Ben Siegel, organizers. Liz Abzug and Pam Elam, the two chief organizers, thanked both of them during and after the conference. Ms. Abzug could have easily chosen one of her students from Columbia who work with BALI. However, the fact that she chose a Hunter student has a lot to do with how helpful Hunter College was during the process. Many of us commented that this would be an experience we will never forget.

There were many highlights during the two-day conference. Rosie O’Donnell received a standing ovation after speaking to a packed Kaye Playhouse audience. She urged everyone to be politically active and spoke about the need for the feminist movement. Before her speech, she took time to speak and interview different attendees. She posted some of the interviews on her blog.

Gloria Steinem spoke to a standing-room only crowd in room 615 HW. One of the audience members noted on how she hopes to be “as graceful as Gloria” when she grows up. Perhaps the biggest highlight was the connection everyone felt at the conference, as we were all there working for a common cause. It was incredible to have the opportunity to hear from and speak to original attendees of the 1977 conference. Some of us were experiencing hero worship first-hand. We felt encouragement not only from the feminists before us, but also from our fellow feminists, both women and men. We felt the highest hope after meeting kids as young as twelve, who trekked from all over the country to join the fight for equality.

Although we are extremely honored that the conference was held here, we also found it to be very fitting. The late Bella Abzug was a Hunter alumna and Hunter is over 70% female. Even more important than the gender makeup of this school is its vast diversity. Hunter represents all the great aspects of America, from its ethnic, religious, and economic diversity to its embodiment of the American dream. Hunter is also intergenerational, just like the conference. Having the conference here sent a clear message to everyone about what the feminist movement is about: equality. Men, women, girls, and boys from all over the country came to Hunter College to move history forward. The attendees included people from different ethnic as well as different political backgrounds. This event was another great achievement in Hunter’s history as a place where you get a great education and change the world for the better.

The Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition (HWRC)

Editor’s Note: This “Thank You” was originally published in the Envoy.