How Saint Martin’s University Celebrates Women’s History Month

Kayla May, Staff Writer

“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” – G.D. Anderson.

This quote by writer and feminist G.D. Anderson embodies what Women’s History Month is about, celebrating women’s contributions to history, culture, and society.

It originated in 1978 in Sonoma, California when the Education Task Force planned and executed a Women’s History Week, including dozens of school presentations, a “Real Women” essay contest, and a parade.

This celebratory week became popular and gained support nationwide, leading to President Jimmy Carter declaring the week National Women’s History Week in 1980. By 1987, after petitioning Congress, the Women’s History Project successfully expanded this week to be the entire month of March.

Since then, every March, the country has used this month to celebrate the women in our lives who contribute to society in big and small ways.

Some of the women who never go unnoticed during March are those whose words and actions have had lasting effects on our country, such as Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sacagawea, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony.

Saint Martin’s University uses this month to educate students about inspiring women, as well as support women within our community.

Some ways the university is doing this is through club sponsored events. On Wednesday, March 15th, the Society of Women Engineers hosted CPT Wendy Lawrence, a NASA astronaut, as she talked about her experiences.

A new club on campus, The Womxn of Color Allegiance, hosted an event on Friday, March 19th. “Womxn with Drive: Cherishing Our Roots” included a panel of women of color talking about their experiences, locally women-owned business vendors, and student performances.

This club was founded in October of 2022. Its members sought to leave a legacy at SMU and wanted to do with an event that could empower women of color and give them a safe place to hang out, share their experiences and support one another, explains club president Victorya Esperanza.

The event also supported SafePlace Olympia, a domestic violence service provider and 24-hour Community Sexual Assault Program for Thurston County. Instead of charging an admission fee, WOCA asked for donations to SafePlace, such as hygiene products, winter/rain clothes, bottled water, or gift cards/gas cards.

When the Belltower interviewed and asked how Esperanza connected with the vendors, she told me that most of them were personal connections such as friendships. One of the vendors was Esperanza’s friend from kindergarten, another a current classmate at SMU, and another a friend of instructor Jenny Serpa who served on the speaking panel. This exemplifies the main goal of the event: to support and connect small and locally owned businesses with members of the community.

Esperanza and began discussing the future of WOCA’s role in Women’s History Month celebrations at SMU. The hope for this event is to have it be annual, ideally on International Women’s Day. They would like to support a different organization each year, specifically ones that support women of color.

“We hope for this to be our legacy that we leave at the school, even after all of us are gone and graduated,” Esperanza explained of her and her fellow club members.

SMU has a student population with a gender distribution that is 61% female. With more than half of the university being women, it is important that we embrace what Women’s History Month is all about, celebrating and uplifting the women in our lives and community.

Barriers, Stereotypes, and Recognition: Celebrating Disability Awareness

Caleb Sharp, Staff Writer

This March, we aim to address the stigmatization around disabled persons by celebrating Disability Awareness Month and sharing tips on how you can facilitate healthy interactions between yourself and disabled people. Before diving into approaches to help disabled persons feel communally and interpersonally accepted, it’s important to cover key moments in the history of disability awareness.

As is the case for most minority groups, disabled persons were treated poorly by the general populace and their needs were often overlooked. 

According to National Today, which recounts the history and information surrounding various holidays such as Black History Month and Indigenous People’s Day, disabled persons “were treated violently and lived in poor, unhygienic environments. Many were ‘passed on,’ a practice of carting off people to be dropped in another town.” 

However, the ways in which the government and society at large treated disabled persons would drastically change for the better during the 20th century. 

The initial stirrings of disability awareness were advocated for by veterans of WWI and WWII, many of whom returned from war with disabilities such as PTSD and loss of vision or hearing. The concerns surrounding disability awareness and accommodation levied towards the government by veterans brought the rights of disabled people to the forefront of national concern, as everyday citizens became increasingly aware of the lived experiences of disabled persons. Despite the considerable strides made in favor of disability awareness during this period of time, the government would not legislatively act upon these concerns until decades later. 

In 1973, Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act. This piece of legislation protected the civil rights of disabled persons by providing equal opportunity federal employment, which prevented hiring and workplace discrimination on the basis of disability. Additionally, the Rehabilitation Act mandated equal access to public spaces (think wheelchair ramps, braille signs). While the Rehabilitation Act paved the way for future disability equality legislation, its effect was limited mostly to federally-owned land/businesses.

Seeking to expand the rights afforded to disabled persons through the Rehabilitation Act, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA required all public spaces and businesses, not just federally owned ones, to accommodate disabled persons nationwide. 

And here we find ourselves today, three decades after the passing of the ADA, with a greater appreciation for and understanding of the hardships disabled persons have had to deal with throughout history. What can we do to further support disabled persons in our community and in our personal lives?

A great first step is to learn about the history of disability awareness, which has already been covered up to this point. Simply learning about the history of disability awareness gives one greater insight into the lived experiences of disabled persons, which is invaluable information in of itself. 

The second step involves language. Specifically, carefully tailoring one’s language in social interactions with disabled persons. 

There are those who, with good intentions, make the mistake of focalizing their language around a disabled person’s disability. An example of this would be if a non-disabled person constantly helped, such as reading signs out loud or identifying certain objects, to a visually impaired person without them asking for assistance. While the intention of the non-disabled person is good-natured, such behavior may cause the visually impaired person to feel as if the non-disabled person only sees them for their disability instead of as a unique individual who happens to have a disability. 

The last step involves a more direct, physical approach to supporting disabled persons, that step being volunteer work. 

There are countless disability volunteer organizations that are always looking for more volunteers to help out. Organizations such as the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (N.A.C.D.D.) and the National Disability Institute aid disabled persons, with many local charters dotted across the country. Local organizations such as Ashley House operate many pediatric assistance facilities across Washington state, with locations in Olympia, Tacoma, and Federal Way. 

A little goes a long way. Whether it’s learning about the history of disability awareness or doing volunteer work with disability assistance organizations, simply showing interest in the lived experiences of disabled persons contributes to building a stronger, more accepting society. 

The History of Black History Month

Gilbert Smith, Staff Writer

Black History Month has not always been around, in fact, it is a relatively new thing. It all began as recently as 1915, half a century after the abolishment of slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment. In the September of 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and the minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the, “Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent,” explains HISTORY. Today, the association is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). HISTORY continues, “the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926”. The group had decided to choose the second week of Feb. to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. This event led to the inspiration of schools and communities nationwide to organize celebrations, form history clubs, and host performances and lectures. Since the beginning of this event, the main focus was to encourage the teaching of the history of Black Americans in educational institutions with a focus on primary education. 

Originally, the overall reception was lukewarm, but Woodson considered it a great success. In the Feb. of 1969, the idea for Black History Month was brought up and promoted by Black students and educators at Kent State University. The next year was the first celebration of Black History Month on campus and local areas. Six years later, in 1975, Black History Month was being celebrated across the country, both in and out of schools, colleges, and community centers. In 1976, President Gerald Ford was the first president to not only recognize, but praise, Black History Month. Since then, every American president has proclaimed Feb. as Black History Month. Other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom dedicate a month to acknowledging and celebrating Black history. 

With each year comes a new theme that is given to Black History Month, this year being “Black Health and Wellness.” This year’s theme is dedicated to examining how the American Healthcare system has over-served and harmed the African American communities. The historical abandonment of the communities within the healthcare system goes back centuries and is still not fixed. Even today, the US chooses to stay behind the forward movement of the rest of the world in providing affordable medical care for its citizens. This puts African Americans and other minorities among the country’s most vulnerable communities, especially if they are poor. 

There are many people who are celebrated in Black History Month. There is Martin Luther King Jr. who is well known for his “I have a dream” speech and is celebrated for his efforts in the fight for equal rights and the end to segregation in all walks of life. There were also many firsts to celebrate with Thurgood Marshall being appointed to the court in 1967, Mae Jemison in space in 1992 and Barack Obama in the 21st century.

Black History Month Events 

There have been events on campus that talk about topics related to it that will have happened by the time this goes up like “Liberty and Justice for All? African-American History and American Democracy” on Feb. 9th in Cebula Hall. There most likely will be more events that will celebrate it on campus.


Club Interview: Pacific Islanders Club

Saint Martin’s is known to host many exciting events, organizations, and clubs. One of the clubs to get to know is the Pacific Islanders Club. The club members discuss the name of their club and the activities and events they do, “We are known as the Pacific Islanders Club or PAC-I for short. In our club, we host small events throughout the semester that consist of but are not limited to Movie Nights, Bingo Nights, Mental Health Nights, and many more. We’ve danced traditional dances, sang traditional songs, and spoke on issues occurring in the Pacific Islands during Multicultural Week, for clubs inviting us out to talk on certain topics pertaining to what’s going on in the Islands, and lastly collaborated with the KaPuso Club in the past for an event we called “Family Night” and will soon be hosting our solo event as well.” 

The club discusses the events that they participate in, “The Pacific Islanders Club is part of any and all events that we get invited to, currently we are working with the Hui O’ Hawai’i Club to perform at the Lu’au.” 

All of our campus clubs bring something unique to Saint Martin’s. The club members discuss what their club brings to Saint Martin’s “Our club brings diversity to Saint Martin’s University. We are a club that consists of members who’re from different parts of the Pacific, individuals that are representing their culture, families, and islands. Individuals who have different stories and cultures to share with the SMU Community.” The club members discuss reasons why students should join their club. “Although our club is called the “Pacific Islanders Club” or “Pac-I” for short, we’re honestly a melting pot of different ethnicities. Individuals from near and far have joined our club, people who identify as PI have joined our club, and people who don’t identify as PI have joined our club as well. We’re open and accepting to all and only wish for the best for those who’re here to make their mark and want anyone and everyone that joins to know that we care and we see how far you’ve come!” 

The PI club has an impact on all that join, and want to create a welcoming environment for those who join them, “Our club is important because it provides a safe place for those who’re far from their homes, who feel like they don’t have family out here in WA, and it’s open to anyone who enjoys hanging out and just having good vibes. We want to bring together the students of the Pacific Islands, provide a sense of “home” away from home, and educate and share our cultures and traditions. As well as being an educational space, the PI club hopes to serve as an affinity space – meaning that we push to not only create a safe environment but also encourage our club members to strive for academic excellence seeking help not only within the club and provide resources to better serve their needs. The club members add on “Shout Outs’ to those who had to leave their islands to come to the mainland to make their mark! Shout Outs to those who are the first in their family to come to college! And Shout Outs to all of those who are trying their best to make it in this huge world! We see ya’ll and wish you all the best!”

“Thank you and Fa’afetai tele lava!”

Difficult Majors? We asked students!

Ailina Cunningham, Staff Writer

If you were to ask anyone on campus about their major, you would learn a lot more than you were expecting. For some, it’s to advance their current career. For others, it’s to look forward to a future career. But regardless of the reasons behind the degree, everyone can attest that their degree may have been more complicated than they thought it would be. Occasionally the classes are challenging, or the material is more complex than imagined. It can happen to the best of us; we go into class one day only to realize that the material we are learning about is something we’ve never encountered before and don’t know how to process it. New methods for studying must be learned to keep up with the pace of the class. Students were asked about their opinions on which majors and degrees are the hardest to accomplish. All students interviewed have asked to remain anonymous to preserve their privacy. It’s important to The Belltower to respect students’ privacy when they answer interviews so no names will be listed.

The most challenging degrees that students were able to agree on were the nursing and engineering degrees. The nursing program is newer to Saint Martin’s and has proved crucial by enabling students to understand the medical field in an up-close way.

“I love my degree and I’m doing what I love, but I have to say that the workload that I have is a little bit insane. It’s not like I want to complain or anything, I’m just saying that learning all this stuff while we’re in a pandemic that doesn’t respect nurses is hard”.

A SMU Nursing Student

The nursing program includes in-person Hands-On hours for a better understanding of how real-life nursing takes place. Additionally, classes such as anatomy and math are fundamental to the medical field, which students have found difficult.

“Whenever we do our classwork or our labs, we have to make sure that everything is super clean and on point, because medicine is a super-specific field, and if you mess up a dosage then you could hurt someone, so learning about how to make things precise is difficult sometimes.”

A SMU Pre-Med Student

As for our engineering degree, when asked about their workload, students were able to recall times when they may have felt overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to do in the math department and the labs. The nursing and engineering programs have labs that they must complete to show proficiency and Hands-On expertise in the material. Students have said that a lot of the labs they are doing are fun to do. However, that does not detract from the occasional lab that presents a challenge and ends up taking an excessive amount of time studying. It’s always important to acknowledge how much studying goes into understanding the material of something. The students who choose these degrees and take the responsibility of learning what they can from them have gained the valuable lesson of learning how to study. The Belltower is proud of all students who work very hard to complete their studies and turn in their high-quality work.

Indigenous People’s Rights

Ailina Cunningham, Staff Writer

In this modern era of activism and civil liberties, the visibility of minorities has birthed the public awareness of several movements, including Black Lives Matter, criminal justice reform, and LGBTQIA+ rights. Some are more focused on a specified genre of political or racial activism, one of which has been slowly gaining steam being the rights of Native Americans. In recent memory, we can recall the protests dating back to 2016 with the occurrence of Standing Rock, Dakota. The Sioux tribes fought for their right to not have an ancient indigenous burial ground demolished to stain a crude oil pipeline.

Millions across the globe joined in solidarity to stand with them in this fight against having their land taken illegally. A common trend in history, which repeats as different parts of indigenous life is threatened. Starting in 1924 when Native Americans were granted the right to vote. This means that it was not until the 1900’s, or around 100 years ago, that Native Americans qualified as citizens on their own land and were allowed to vote. This movement for rights has gone on for years and has continued to grow in popularity in the public domain as members of tribes can tell their stories.

Currently, a movement is being made to find the missing women and children who are supposedly being brutally harmed but have not been reported or investigated. This is a very disturbing fact given the ideal of the criminal justice system is to investigate every crime to achieve justice. Organizations such as the Native Women’s Wilderness Organization have put up videos and information to explain the problem to the public and raise awareness. This awareness garnered White House attention back in 2019 in the form of designating May 5th as the National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Native Women and Girls. Additionally, this form of awareness brought about the existence of Executive Order 13898, or in other words, operation of Lady Justice. This is an operation that builds a task force to find the missing women and children who are of indigenous descent or ethnicity. Statistics are not currently out on how many women or children have yet been found.

The fight for awareness and understanding of Native American Rights has reached new audiences currently with social platforms, such as TikTok and YouTube, which allow personal accounts on issues from the voices of Indigenous people to reach a more public platform. Using this platform has become a way for indigenous people to find pride in their history and their culture, rather than trying to blend in with the modern culture that excludes their heritage. Trends such as #NativeTikTok and #NativeStories allowed Indigenous people to share their culture and their heritage with people who may not have any other way of knowing about indigenous life.

Fighting for your civil rights is one thing, and it is very important, however, these people have found a way to fight for their heritage as well. By telling stories that were passed down to them so that the stories do not disappear, and instead reach a wider audience. Some creators have even started to explain indigenous dances and tribal rituals to spread awareness of the cultural significance that they bring. In this modern-day, as rights movements soar in public awareness, so does Indigenous awareness.

Focus on Art

Andy Nicoletta, Staff Writer

On Oct. 5, 2013, there will be a student art show in the TUB. This is a new program to feature the cultural and artistic diversity of the students. With events focusing on music and writing, now there is an event focusing on art. Brittany Reed, Assistant Director of Campus Life, and Shalaya Sanders are organizing this event.

According to Reed, there is no central theme for the art show at this point, but that is liable to change, so anyone interested should keep an eye out for the flyers and emails. This gallery will also not be limited to any specific medium; it is open to all student art that shows the diversity of the student body.

“I don’t know what to expect. I’m excited to see what people will bring,” Reed said.

With plenty of time for students to prepare their art pieces and think over the idea of submitting their pieces to the student gallery, this program is expecting to bring together the artistic community at SMU and display their diverse tastes and ideas. If you enjoy art, then stop by the Student Art Show at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5.