SWG Conference

By: Sara Angel

February 13, 2013

For five years, Concordia University Chicago and Dominican university have partnered together to host the Gender and Women Studies Mini Conference.

The fifth annual conference will take place March 23, 2013. Partnered with Dominican University, the CUC Women’s and Gender Studies program holds this conference each March as an opportunity for students and faculty to discuss current gender issues.

“About six years ago, Christina Perez and I met one another for the first time to talk about the programs at our institutions,” said Michelle Gardner-Morkert, Ph.D., coordinator of CUC’s WGS program. “As the conversation progressed we somehow stumbled upon the idea that we should get everyone together at a conference and highlight the curiosity of our students, faculty, and staff.”

The conference started out as a small, morning meeting with about 70 students, 40 of those presenting abstract pieces on gender related topics. Last year, an estimated 200 students attended the daylong conference hosted at Dominican.

Violet Gallardo, Study of Women and Gender and Sociology double major, attended and presented at last year’s conference, and will do so this year.

“Last year I presented about menstruation. This year my topic is BDSM, Bondage, Discipline, Submission, and Masochism,” said Gallardo. “Sex is such a taboo thing to talk about yet it’s everywhere and we need to talk about it. Men and women all live together, we should act like it. No one is better than the other.”

The atmosphere surrounding the conference is one of engagement for first time participants. Presentations range from written papers to PowerPoints and even performances. Students, as well as faculty, present pieces to the audience.

“There’s a very open and accepting feel to the environment. It really is an equalizer. You have students and faculty together on panels being able to discuss and exchange ideas,” said Christina Perez, Dominican’s Director of SWG Program. “Today, it’s not enough to just have a SWG diploma; you have to be able to present, to be impressive.”

At Dominican, the relatively new Study of Women and Gender major/minor allows students to explore the roles of sex and gender in diverse perspectives. This “addresses the dynamics of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and power,” as stated on the SWG homepage.

“The SWG major is my life. It’s my passion. People might look at me and think I’m an angry feminist and they’re right, I am angry; being angry is clarifying thoughts, questioning, looking for answers.  I’m not a feminist, I advocate feminism,” said Gallardo.

The event is free and open to students of the Dominican and Concordia communities. Students can pre-register on the CUC website by March 1. Anyone interested in submitting an abstract paper for the conference can also do so online by February 15.