New campus group focus on street harassment, feminism

Fresno State faculty and students from the Leadership and Social Justice team link arms in front of a mural painting representing feminism at the #YouOKSis event on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. (Jennifer Reyes/The Collegian)

The Fresno State Leadership and Social Justice (LSJ) team hosted a first-time event aimed at educating students about feminism and street harassment that occurs within the black community on Aug. 28 at the University Student Union balcony.

“[Students] should be aware of the injustices that happen. Primarily for this instance, it’s about feminism and street harassment,” student LSJ team coordinator Sophie Karas said. “Just being aware of [our] surroundings and standing up for each other if they see injustice happening.”

At the event, students had the opportunity to gather together in a circle and share with one another poems, tears, laughter and thoughts geared toward helping everyone feel welcomed in a group where everybody looked similar to one another but could find their own individuality. 

During the summer of 2019, the student group came together and formed as the suggestion was brought up that there should be events focused on bringing awareness to social justice and feminism on campus.

One of the primary reasons and inspiration for the first feminism awareness event happening was from the actions of social worker and activist Feminista Jones. She gained popularity on Twitter as a blogger who used her voice to create a feminist movement in June 2019, coining the term #YouOkSis to combat against women constantly dealing with street harassment. 

After Jones witnessed a mother walking down the streets with her child being catcalled and asking if the woman was ok, that experience turned into a movement for both men and women to stop such harassment by speaking up for others.

“I feel like a lot of times, we don’t always get to come together and talk about what we are going through,” attendee Mia Richardson said. “I feel like a lot of times, college does not prioritize our mental health – black people specifically.”

The LSJ team hopes to provide the campus with a new string of events geared toward feminism awareness. These events will be aimed at bringing together a community through spoken word and mural paintings, spokesman said.

On Nov. 13, students can look forward to another event brought together by the LSJ team called Social Justice Paint Night. 

“I would hope that [these events] could start a conversation around these issues, and also bring [together] students, faculty, staff and provide a safe space for students to express themselves,” Karas said.

*The Collegian was informed after the story was published, this event was co-hosted by the Black Women’s Book Club.

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