What does International Women’s Day mean at Augie?


Kayla Palliser

Rebecca Montgomery hands a flower to senior Lilia Rangel at the P.E.O. table on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023. Jan Riccio is also pictured.

Krystina Slack

Anyone walking into the Gävle rooms on March 8 saw a room bustling with people walking around decorated tables dedicated to gender and equity. Talking and laughter carried through the open doors, inviting others to join in.

On March 8, Augustana College held its second International Women’s Day event. The event included tables with displays from the Asian Student Organization, computer science department, HerCampus, Special Collections, the office of sexual assault prevention education, Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.), The Project of the Quad Cities, Title IX, the Tredway Library, Wing Chun Society and the women, gender and sexuality studies department (WGSS) and more. Attendees could go around to each table and learn about a variety of different topics pertaining to International Women’s Day.

March 19, 1911, was the first time International Women’s Day was celebrated. Since then, the holiday has changed a bit. The holiday was originally very political and was used to promote suffrage and socialist causes. The holiday is now celebrated on March 8 and has become less political and more commercialized. It is an official holiday in 27 countries, celebrating women all over the world and their accomplishments.

According to Augustana’s website, the International Women’s Day event, “is a celebration of diversity, equity, and inclusion and an effort to raise awareness against bias. People of all genders are welcome and encouraged to participate.”

As a small, liberal arts college, Augustana prides itself on inclusion and diversity. Augustana requires students to go through various training courses at the beginning of every year and holds diversity events throughout the year. 

According to Dr. Jennifer Heacock-Renaud, chair of the women, gender and sexuality studies department, Augustana has taken a variety of steps over the last few years to make the campus a more inclusive place.

“I’m happy that we’ve taken steps in the last few years to have more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, and that’s something that’s relatively new and that’s needed, and we need more of it on campus,” Heacock-Renaud said. “We’ve [also] had important conversations on campus about sexual assault in the last 10 years.”

While Augustana College has made progress, there is always room for improvement.

“I think we have got a good foundation that we built, and it’s always good to continue doing more, just keep going and just keep growing,” Zachary Draves, program director for sexual assault prevention education, said. “Keep reaching out, keep engaging students and meeting the students where they’re at.”

Augustana offers many different resources, not just for women, but for everyone on campus such as counseling services, a variety of student groups and many other offices on campus. One of the things that events like International Women’s Day do is shed light on these resources.

“Ultimately, we deserve to be recognized. We deserve to be celebrated,” Cassandra Hall, campus coordinator, said.

Events like International Women’s Day were created so that Augustana students will go to these events and learn more about the world around them, and there was a lot to learn at the International Women’s Day event. From the resources that the library has on women’s history, from HerCampus and what they do on campus for women, to the P.E.O. and the scholarship opportunities that they give to women.

“I hope that people walk away with greater empathy for the unique challenges that face women, people who identify as women and people who identify as LGBTQ,” Heacock-Renaud said.

Events like International Women’s Day bring awareness to situations and recourse on our campus. It shows the campus community that they are being heard and that things will continue to change for the better. It is also a way to get to know those who work with these groups and offices. It’s a learning experience for students and faculty alike. As the Augustana community continues to grow, so does Augustana’s work for inclusion and diversity.