Augustana creates goal to #BreaktheBias


Aakash Manandhar

Stalls being set up during the International Women’s Day event at Gavle rooms on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

Zain Shrestha

Augustana hosted its first ever International Women’s Day fair on Tuesday, March 8th at the Gerber Center. 

The fair was advertised as a way to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion. There were several student club volunteers in attendance. These clubs provided education on women who they looked up to, snacks and prizes.

Junior and President of LatinxUnidos, Stephanie Carreno, was one of the student volunteers at the International Women Day Fair. 

Carreno said she was not sure if Augustana had done enough to recognize women on campus, as this was the first time the event was held. However, she said that Augustana has excelled with representing women’s athletics. 

“Augustana does a good job at recognizing women in sports. So, kudos to them for that because I think women, especially here at Augustana who do sports, do get as much recognition as males,” Carreno said.

Carreno also said that the #BreaktheBias slogan was a large part of the fair and that the overall goal was to celebrate the many accomplishments of women, including women in the Augustana community. Although women are usually seen as less powerful, Carreno said that this fair was spreading a different message. 

“If you step into this room, you see women who oversee student organizations, you see professors who were able to get their doctorate degrees. That’s kind of showing how women can break away, stop that bias and show other people that they’re capable of being in those higher positions,” Carreno said.

According to Carreno, the first International Women’s Day Fair at Augustana was a “step in the right direction,” and Carreno hopes this event continues to grow in the coming years.

Junior Gavinya Wijesekera, student organizer of the International Women’s Day fair, agreed that the message to #BreaktheBias was something the fair wanted to strongly emphasize. 

Wijesekera said there were several different clubs and organizations that volunteered to sit at a booth for the event. This helped to show the possibility of a gender-equal world.  

“Many student groups participated in this event. They wanted to highlight the biases that many women of color face when they’re out in the world, raise awareness of this bias and start a conversation on how to break biases,” Wijesekera said. 

Students that attended this event noted the work that was put into organizing the International Women’s Day fair.

First-year Sawyer Graham was one of the students who attended the fair. Graham said that participating in this fair was one opportunity that Augustana provided to support and empower women. 

“This event will help with visibility on campus, and women’s voices will be heard. It’ll help small businesses run by women get support and growth, and it might make Title-IX on campus be more seriously taken,” Graham said. 

Graham said that if students were not able to attend the event this year, that they should make a committed effort to attend next year.

“The students that didn’t come to this event missed out on some really cool booths of making bracelets, the library was really interesting and this K-pop little business. So, the people missed out on some really cool things to do,” Graham said.

Wijesekera said that this event occurring at Augustana sets up the stage for future support for women. According to Wijesekera, this event could also provide the opportunity for other organizations to hold events that uplift all women. 

“Many different people doing very different things came together to form a community to celebrate just women and their incredible achievement,” Wijesekera said. “With the success of this event, hopefully the school realizes it’s important to have events like this.”