The Associated American University Women (AAUW), have been a slow but steady force on Eastern’s campus within the past year.
AAUW is a nationwide group based on empowering women as individuals and is striving for equity, for not only women, but for all. On the local campus level, the Eastern New Mexico University chapter hones in on a networking aspect and connects campus leaders from different organizations, according to AAAUW chapter president Desiree Cooper.
They are also focused on changing public policy, building leadership initiatives, and beginning a STEM mentoring program.
The current chapter of AAUW provides connections with prominent women, faculty, and staff members in the community who have connections with Eastern. They hold fundraisers such as food drives to help send the chapter to National Conventions to network with leaders nationwide.
AAWU holds national conventions, such as the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) and the AAUW National Convention.
At these conventions, attendees meet presidents and co-presidents of other college chapters, and people such as Lilly Ledbetter, a woman’s equality activist who won a discrimination case against Goodyear Tires in 2007, according to Cooper.
AAUW provides leadership training on various aspects concerning women in today’s society, according to Cooper. At national conventions, several workshops with different “tracks” of information are discussed. One such track focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and how to retain women in this ever-growing field. Another, referred to as ‘Elect-Her’, encourages and trains college women to run for student government and future political office.
There was a previous chapter of AAUW on Eastern’s campus, which returned to ENMU in fall 2014 under past-president Sabrina Michael. Today, Cooper and members are working towards growing in numbers and finding quality members.
Cooper foresees the chapter making a difference in the lives of future students.
“We are not only attracting student leaders who have established themselves in other organizations,” Cooper said, “We are also attracting younger students who haven’t gotten a foothold in the university yet.”
The organization is a “bouncing board of ideas”, a place leaders of several organizations can come together and have a collaborative effort, according to Cooper.
During meetings, the members present issues affecting women that they wish to address as a chapter in order to gain more knowledge. Occasionally the chapter will host guest speakers such as alumna Cassie Marrs.
This gives members presentation experience and allows for the opportunity to speak their mind on an issue, how it pertains to Eastern, and how the issue can be addressed locally then brought to national attention at conferences, According to Cooper.
Cooper hopes that this organization can work together with others on campus in order to increase leadership skills. She hopes to bring about more events and more fundraising in the future.
“As we expand with more members and more ideas, there is a lot of potential to branch out into larger events,” Cooper said. “We don’t want to do something unless it is 100 percent.”
Anyone, regardless of race, creed, color or gender can join AAUW and participate in working towards not only the equity of women, but the equity of all, according to Cooper.
AAUW meetings are held every other Tuesday at 5:15 pm in JWLA 213. For more information, contact AAUW Vice President of Communications Amy Waltner at firstname.lastname@example.org.