The Women’s Studies Program hosted its 2016 Gender & Gender Identity Colloquium on Friday in the Matador Room of the Student Union Building. Through a variety of panels and discussions, the colloquium gives students, faculty and staff the opportunity to talk about gender and gender identity.
The keynote speaker for the colloquium, Jessica Luther, a freelance journalist and author from Austin, spoke about her new book “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape” and how sexual assault and violence have affected college campuses both in general and in athletics.
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd, Luther said the conversation about sexual violence must be encouraged on college campuses.
“It is happening,” Luther said. “If you don’t know you know a survivor, you know a survivor. It’s a problem, and we need to be addressing it. I happen to be doing it through this particular lens.”
The Women’s Studies Program is promoting these conversations at Texas Tech. It is important for students to hear about sexual and gender-based violence and how it affects them on a college campus, Earl said.
Earl first interacted with Luther through social media. Earl said she had used some of Luther’s articles as resources for her students.
After realizing Luther’s book was being released, Earl said inviting her as the keynote speaker was a no-brainer.
“I think this topic is something we could bring to our audience, so we can push forward in the progress we are trying to make to end violence against women and girls and trying to grapple the gender-based violence that happens in our society,” Earl said.
Parker Reyes, a sophomore public relations major from Austin, said he thinks it is important for the people who went to the talk today to spread the message Luther brought.
“The most important thing is getting the word out there and educating the public,” Reyes said. “This isn’t everyone, this isn’t the whole university, but, these people have come out to learn about sexual violence, gender expression and different things. The people who come to these events take that information and disperse it.”
Reyes said the problem of sexual and gender-based violence can be fixed if the societal culture becomes more positive.
Earl said through these types of events, students can benefit from the subject matter discussed.
“When the community gathers around a topic like this,” Earl said, “it gives a platform for students in our classes to be more active to take what they are learning in our classrooms out into the community.”
Luther said she is encouraged by the turnout for the talk and the positive change it can cause in the future.
“The fact that so many people who came today to hear me talk about this gives me hope,” Luther said.