Panhellenic Council hosts empowerment series

Maryam Iqbal, Staff Reporter

On Thursday, Nov. 1, Tinkham Veale University Center hosted the second part of the “Our Story, Our Voice” event, a three day empowerment series hosted by the Panhellenic Council and supported by the Greek Office. Open to anyone identifying as feminine or gender fluid, the event took on the theme #LIMITLESS and was motivated to break barriers, boundaries and glass ceilings.

Our Story, Our Voice was inspired by the notion that women and those who identify as feminine or gender fluid lack sufficient space on campus to share certain stories, meet potential mentors and build connections with others with similar experiences on campus.

The night was filled with small group discussions focused on the participants’ goals, fears they would like to overcome and how to use their voices to support one another. The event included appearances by professors and faculty from several departments, with the keynote speaker of Susan Case, Ph.D., a full-time Case Western Reserve University faculty member specializing in ethics education, organizational behavior and women and gender diversity.

Case gave a powerful, raw testimony of her own life, speaking about how she managed to balance ambition in her work with her identity as a woman and her desire to care for her growing family. She then read a self-written spoken word piece, detailing other people’s difficulties in understanding her achievements in conjunction with her role as a mother. As such, Case’s realization of the differences between herself and her male colleagues was always at the forefront of her mind in the workplace.

In her talk, Case recalled being called “power hungry” and “not motherly enough.” She tried to portray how her accomplishments ended up “playing second fiddle” to her husband’s accomplishments. Slowly but surely, she said she realized she would never be able to satisfy everyone in her life and as long as she tried her best she could feel fulfilled. She explained that achievement is patchwork, and “reinventing ourselves is what it means to be a woman.”

After her speech, participants of the event broke into groups combining students with CWRU faculty and staff members who served as facilitators. Discussion topics ranged from using voices effectively to what happens when strong voices disagree and how people can empower others. To answer these questions, the night ended by people writing their fears down on a small wooden board and then breaking the board in half to signify overcoming those fears.

The Panhellenic Council followed Our Story, Our Voice with an event called “Our Story,” which took place Sunday morning. This was an all-sorority chapter meeting which brought together the Panhellenic community to engage in dialogue. The conversation explored well-known women in the media, how media helps or hurts one’s perspective and how social media affects confidence.

As Panhellenic Council President and fourth-year student Sara Ahmad recounted, “As people stepped forward when a phrase applied to them, it was eye-opening to see how similar and different our community is.”