Rising from the ashes of the pandemic, the Feminist Club seized on the energy generated from in-person classes and had an electric start to the fall semester. From the first meeting, the excitement emanating from the members was unmistakable. Since then, they’ve deconstructed the summer blockbuster feminist film “Barbie,” discussed Chicana labor union activist Dolores Huerta, and educated many members on the various types of feminism in their meetings.
The Feminist Club’s advisor, Lynn Comella, who also chairs the Interdisciplinary, Gender, and Ethnic Studies Department, shares, “Last fall, students were coming back to campus for the first time since the pandemic. For a lot of students, it was their first time in in-person classes, and it was months after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. There was a lot of energy on campus. I was teaching my [Intro to Gender and Sexuality] class, and my students were like ‘I’m taking this class because I’m so upset. I’m so angry. I can’t believe this decision to overturn [Roe v. Wade]. I can’t believe how women are being positioned in this country as second-class citizens.’”
One student was willing to capitalize on the energy. Sophia Dagostino, the President of Feminist Club, shared, “I had recently attended the involvement fair, and was unable to find any clubs of the sort. [Comella] suggested that, if there weren’t any, then maybe I should look into starting a club of my own. She informed me that there was no [Gender and Sexuality Studies] GSS or [Interdisciplinary, Gender, and Ethnic Studies] affiliated club or society like a lot of other majors have and that she would be the advisor if that was what I decided to do.”
In 2022, Feminist Club became an official Registered Student Organization (RSO). However, the Feminist Club didn’t always have the stellar turnout they do now. Ketzia Jimenez, the Vice President of Feminist Club, said, “Last semester, we had an event that we had to cancel because no one came and it was upsetting. Now, to see all of this change, makes me so happy … The Barbie Deconstruction event from an attendance perspective was a little crazy to me. I honestly think our first meeting was crazy to me too. We used the majority of the chairs in the room and needed more during this event.”
Dagostino added, “We had, at its peak, more attendees than the capacity of our club room allowed. It was by far the best turnout we’ve ever had, with both new and returning faces … Although the club has not had too many meetings so far, it’s been really meaningful to me to see just how quickly the club has grown. It shows me that this sort of community is what people have been wanting, and I’m happy to be able to bring people together like this.”
From the very beginning, the Feminist Club has emphasized its intention to keep the club diverse and intersectional. Dagostino shared, “I believe that one can not be a true feminist without an acceptance and understanding of all people … Of course, feminism has a historical focus on women. However, the word and movement as a whole has shifted to encompass a focus on intersectionality. Feminists believe that all people of every race, sex, gender, religion, sexuality, nationality, class, color, age or identity deserve equal rights and societal equality. And so, to me, feminism is the bare minimum. So, being in the Feminist Club, it’s my goal to bring people with all levels of feminist knowledge deeper into an understanding of both the movement and their own community.”
Jimenez shared thoughts on the importance of clubs like these on campus, saying, “College can be a very lonely experience sometimes, and to show students that they can find a community based on their interests makes it a lot easier.”
The Feminist Club will be hosting an event, “Marxist Feminism,” on Oct. 16 with Red Desert Collective, a local activist organization. The Feminist Club is also hosting an event in collaboration with two other RSO’s, UNLV People Power and Students United for Reproductive Justice; “Beyond the Basics: Sex Education” will be on Oct. 18 at 4 p.m. Reach out to @unlv_feministclub on Instagram for more information.