By Amanda Morgan Fann, Staff Writer–
In honor of women’s history month, UTC’s Panhellenic group hosted a week of events meant to empower women.
The week was created to show UTC Panhellenic girls care not only care about their Greek life sisters, but all women on campus and in the community by empowering each other. Free events such as tabling for Bloom, chalking, guest speaker seminars, and painting classes were used to promote the strength and need of women standing together.
“Competition is such a big thing in our community,” said Panhellenic Vice President of Programing Katherine McCarthy, “and we are trying to cut that down and instead start supporting one another and loving each other.”
Although events were planned to happen every day, a lack of participation caused Tuesday’s event to end before it even began, leaving the guest speakers, A Step Ahead, upset.
A Step Ahead Chattanooga provides free long-term, reversible birth control to any woman in Southeast Tennessee. UTC Panhellenic partnered with them with the intentions of A Step Ahead empowering women with an opportunity to access free birth control or become an ambassador for members of the community. However, none of the seven Panhellenic executive board representatives or the fourteen programming committee members showed, except for the Vice President of Programing, McCarthy, who was frustrated with the turn out.
“A Step Ahead is mad,” said McCarthy. “They brought snacks, and prizes, and shirts. And they are probably not going to work with Panhellenic again. I mean no one on my council came. “
Getting passed Tuesday night’s bump in the road, Wednesday’s event “Sorority Girls Can Change the World!” with Katie Bulmer, had great participation. Bulmer empowered many of the women in attendance to take their mass influence and make changes they want to see in the world. Bulmer gave proof what influences sorority girls have nationwide by showing the statistics of Comfort Color t-shirt brand. Sororities’ interest in Comfort Colors quickly created a great demand across the country, making Comfort Colors a multi-million-dollar company with the little-to-no advertisement.
“We have not only changed businesses, we have changed trends,” said McCarthy. Katie Bulmer made us see how much influence we have in the world to be doing even better than we are now.”
Bulmer pointed out that gifts for littles could be a trend setter that makes a difference, such as making bracelets made by a business within a small, less-developed country the gift of the year. Bulmer suggested even turning dates nights into philanthropy events by taking the money one might spend on a drink and donating it to a good cause.
Thursday’s movie night and facemask event was cancelled due to fear of a lack of participation, however, UTC Panhellenic still brought Walk It Like I Chalk It to Chamberlain pavilion, an event where people could write encouraging messages to women and eat cotton candy. Programming committee members Sarah Moultrie and Rebekah Hampton said events like this draw people in with fun, while also teaching them something: the importance of community and supporting women.
The last major event of the week took place off campus at “Painting with a Twist” on Friday night. Around 30 women came together for an evening of fun, relaxation, and painting. Everyone watched and followed along with the instructor to create a vase of purple flowers. Like the uniqueness of each woman there, no two paintings were the same. Sigma Kappa member McKenzie Streat and Chi Omega member Julia Brown discussed that the paint event was a fun and relaxing way for members of different sororities to bond and get to know each other better.
“I think people are quick to be divided, especially when you are in different sororities,” said Brown, “but it is more important to lift each other up because women supporting women is so important, especially right now. We have to continue the movement.“
Throughout the entire week, UTC Panhellenic tabled in the University Center, where they accepted donations (both supplies and money) for Bloom, a service project run by the School of Nursing that benefits women in the Chattanooga community who are unable to purchase feminine hygiene products, and had a “She is…” board for pictures. The “She is…” board is based on a popular media trend called the “She Is” Movement, which aims to expand minds and limits on what it means to be a woman, which is a experience different for many. For the board, students finished the sentence with whatever word they saw best fit and posed for a picture.
While at the table, students could also give a compliment, take one in return, and receive a “Girls Support Girls” sticker. The stickers are meant to act as conversation starters, said McCarthy, so the ideas keep going even when the week’s festivities end.
Overall, the Panhellenic Women’s Empowerment week brought many women together and successfully collected several products and monetary donations for Bloom to give to underprivileged women in the Chattanooga community. Hopefully the momentum will continue as women strive to lift each other up.