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Students mark 90th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote
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Brenau University students, led by Kathrina St. Flavin, left, Alison Sellers, center, and Laura Bolling, right, march through campus Thursday afternoon re-enacting the women’s suffrage protest at Washington, D.C., that helped ratify the 19th Amendment. The student organization Women Active and Vigilant for Equality sponsored the event.

Rain couldn't stop them - not even bugs.

On Women's Equality Day, a group of Brenau University students held signs and read historic speeches to commemorate 90 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment for women's right to vote.

Donned in white clothes to look like the famous protestors, the students marched around Centennial Circle despite the threat of rain and a growing number of mosquito bites.

"Suffragettes stood in front of the White House, even when it was unpopular in World War I, and they compared our government to Germany's. Some were arrested, and some had to get a divorce," said Heather Casey, a Brenau professor and faculty advisor for the student group Women Active and Vigilant for Equality.

"Today, it was warm, and we had a few bug bites, but the suffragettes were there, rain or shine. We shouldn't take it for granted."

Juniors Laura Bolling and Alison Sellers created Women Active and Vigilant for Equality last spring as the first feminist group on campus.

They want to take the negative stigmas out of the word "feminist" and encourage the students on campus to give women a voice, especially ages 18 to 22.

"One of my favorite things about Brenau is that you see a lot of leaders who maybe wouldn't have gone for their positions on a co-ed campus," Bolling said. "Our first goal is to get 100 people signed up for WAVE and create awareness."

Kathrina St. Flavin, a senior, read a passage from Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women's rights advocate. Sellers read a speech from Victoria Woodhull, a suffragist who petitioned Congress in person.

Then the girls walked - not just for history, but for right now.

"Millions of women living in the world don't have the right of suffrage or representation, and we have students at Brenau from Afghanistan and Middle East countries where women are undervalued," said Brenau President Ed Schrader, who watched the march Thursday in support.

"It's so easy with the world being so fast-changing to be disconnected, and these students care about their history. Just 100 years ago, women couldn't vote in this country, which is unimaginable."

In the spring, WAVE held a bake sale as its kickoff event. The "wage gap" goods were priced according to the discrepancies in wages for both genders and different races.

"The students had to find themselves on the scale, and that's what they had to pay. For example, a woman paid 77 cents for a brownie, and a man paid $1," Bolling said. "

The next day, everyone paid 50 cents, which we used to represent the future of equality for all. Many students were surprised to hear where they were on the list."

WAVE plans to hold more events this year, hoping to show fellow students that women's rights activism didn't stop in 1920.

"Students know that women have the right to vote but not how they obtained it and how they fought for it," Sellers said. "It's disturbing to know that my peers don't see that things still aren't equal. There are so many more feats to be had."

 

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