The winners of the Friends of Women's Studies Prize for Student Activism in 2011-12 were Laura Andrew '12 and Maggie Russolello '13.
Kim Green (Women's Studies/Community Studies, '13) and K.B. (Kathleen) Brower (Interdisciplinary Studies, '11) shared the 2010-11 Friends of Women's Studies Prize for Student Activism.
Kim won for her outstanding work on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Kim has pursued research, networking, and community building with equal devotion. She has worked with the Student Assembly’s diversity initiative, has served as co-President of the NAACP W&M chapter, and with LAMBDA Alliance. In response to six suicides in Sept 2010, Kim became involved with David Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign, recording her own experience about “coming out and eventually being accepted and accepting myself.” Working with Margie Cook, in the Center for Student Diversity, she completed and posted a video in which members of the W&M community shared their stories. The documentary has now been viewed over 10,000 times.
K.B. worked tirelessly with the Living Wage Campaign on Campus, supporting housekeeping staff in their requests for equitable work conditions and pay. K.B. was one of the leaders of the Tidewater Labor Support Committee, and a key force behind the Campaign. In the words of Professor Cindy Hahamovitch, a member of the TLSC, K.B. was "always there, working behind the scenes, keeping things together, bringing her characteristic intelligence, warmth, and courage to everything the TLSC does."
The winner of the 2009-10 Friends of Women's Studies Prize for Student Activism was Casey Sears (Women's Studies/Neuroscience, '11). Here's what he says about his activities this year:
"The bulk of my activism usually focuses on reproductive rights and sexual health education. This year, in response to a wave of bigotry directed at the LGBT community in Virginia, my activism has shifted to LGBT rights and equality. The main work that I did was a shared burden between Cassie Adair (English, '11), Becky Little (Women's Studies, '12), and Laura Andrew (Women's Studies, '12). We organized a phone-banking effort directed towards State Attorney General Cuccinelli and Governor McDonnell, we organized an on-campus protest demanding LGBT inclusion in the W&M bylaws, we created press packets and virtual media campaigns, and we did our best to keep everything current with the goals of national organizations such as Get Equal and the National Equality March.
These issues are all about social freedom and the ability to determine how one leads his/her/hir own life. The LGBT rights movement will directly affect hiring policies, governmentally sanctioned family structures, and tax benefits. Much to my own chagrin I'm realizing that I'm coming very close to living in the 'real world,' and these matters will impact my life in critical ways. If I want to have the same rights and freedoms as heterosexual citizens, I'm going to have to fight for those rights and freedoms. I hope that one day we all won't have to fight as hard as we do to work towards social justice, but until then I'm not going to stop doing what I'm doing.
My activism has already influenced my future a good deal. I'm planning to apply to Teach for America, and then go to graduate school in either public health or gender studies. Either way, I'm going to end up in a career that focuses on how activism can help those who need it and can protect the rights of global citizens."
The winner in 2008-9 was Cherie Seise (Women's Studies/History, '10). Cherie's extensive activist endeavors (with groups such as Tidewater Labor Support Committee, Virginia Organizing Project, United Students Against sweatshops, and immigrant rights organizations in Central and Northern Virginia) demonstrate an understanding of the interconnectedness of multiple forms of oppression and injustice both global and local. Through her activism she has put intersectionality into practice. Her efforts remind us that women's issues are also labor issues, and that GLBT issues are relevant for workers as workers--not only in the United States, but abroad.
The winner of the Prize in 2007-8 (its inaugural year) was Constance Sisk (Music '08). Constance was active on campus in a variety of areas, including LGBTQ issues, substance abuse, liaising with unions on campus, and agricultural sustainability projects. In all of these areas she was a central figure. Her association with the Lambda Alliance started officially in her sophomore year, when she was the activist chair, and during her senior year she was the president. Her work in this area focused on creating safe spaces on campus for queer students, lobbying and publicity on the Marshall-Newman Amendment (the "Marriage Amendment"), and conference-organizing. Her work with Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Task Force included conducting "Know Your Rights" trainings, organizing a series of Drug Policy Awareness weeks, and helping to implement a Medical Amnesty Policy. In 2008 she was elected to SSDP's national board of directors. In addition to these efforts, she was active in the Tidewater Labor Support Committee, helping to organize demonstrations against the Iraq war, a Living Wage campaign, and a Grass Roots Organizing Weekend. Finally, she was President of the Farmers and Gardeners Club, a group that volunteers at a local organic farm and works to promote sustainable food policies and practices on campus.