The Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition is a chartered undergraduate student club dedicated to furthering gender equality and reproductive justice. The club’s mission is to raise awareness of, and promote student-lead activism on, these issues while empowering members and fostering student leadership. Membership is open to all Hunter College students, faculty, and alumni, and entails e-mail listserv membership and meeting attendance.

Since its inception in February of 2004, members have raised campus consciousness of gender equality and reproductive justice by hosting or participating in events such as the V-Day Vagina Carnival, Condom Week, campus club fairs, “Stitch and Bitch” craft nights, Back-Up-Your Birth Control Day, and the Bella Abzug Lecture series. They ran flier campaigns and held discussions on issues, such as emergency contraception, sex toys, the sex industry, and the “Global Gag Rule.”

In April of 2005 they brought in filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West for a viewing of her documentary about street harassment called War Zone, and a raffle was held for self-defense classes.

The HWRC has also been at the forefront of student-lead activism and attended the 2004 March for Women’s Lives with over 200 members of the Hunter Community, lobbying for the Public University Emergency Contraception (EC) Act, participating in the International Women’s Day NYC march and protest, running petition drives on legislation, and participating in activist training by local and national organizations such as Code Pink, the Feminist Majority Foundation, The People for the American Way, NARAL Pro-Choice NY, NOW-NYC, Choice USA, and Planned Parenthood of NYC.

Most recently, due to their efforts, the HWRC members established gender neutral bathrooms on campus. They are located on the second floor of the north building, next to Oasis. They worked with USG and the Health & Wellness Office to get a nurse practitioner on campus.

The Women’s Studies Program has been a long and invaluable supporter of the club, providing the members with guidance, a place to hold meetings until they acquired club space, and empowering events they could volunteer for. The HWRC gladly helped publicize the Women’s History Month events this March, including the International Women’s Day Events. It was difficult to miss the day’s programs organized by Women’s Studies Professor Carmelina Cartei, with the third floor bridge between the North, East and West buildings being transformed into makeshift stages for multimedia exhibits and performances.

The HWRC, again, worked with the Health & Wellness Office again for the Clothesline Project. The project was one of the most powerful events held at Hunter last term, in which countless t-shirts were hung on the third floor bridges between the North, East and West buildings to raise awareness about violence against women. The HWRC members were grateful to make their small contributions to the program, helping publicize the event and creating t-shirts.

One of the most haunting t-shirts, which spoke of a recent rape, strengthened the club’s dedication to ending violence against women.

Clubs officials: President Jerin Alam, Vice President Ben Siegel, Treasurer Sylvia Beltran, and Secretary and Director of Outreach and Publicity Sydney Cespedes, along with alumna and founding member, Professor Patricia Rudden.

Their first big upcoming event is working with Hillel for Midnight Run on Thursday, September 20. The Club owes special thanks to Dean Michael Escott and Vice President of Students Affairs Eija Ayravainen for their continued support.
Editor’s Note: Jerin Alam is a CUNY Baccalaureate major, Hunter is her home college. She is majoring in psychology and still figuring out her second major. She is the External Affairs/Public Relations Commissioner for the Undergraduate Student Government and the President of the Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition.