By John Connolly
Women of CUA became an official student organization at Catholic University in 2017.
The brainchild of Raelyn Schnappauf, a graduate of the class of 2018, Women of CUA aims to foster those conversations about gender equality and gender issues at the university and in the outside world.
“Our goal is to give voice to women who haven’t traditionally had a voice and to women who are constantly being silenced,” Nadia Carlino, the club’s president said.
Carlino, a sophomore from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, first became involved with Women of CUA during her freshman year at Catholic.
“They were looking for a position and of course I wanted to help,” she said. “So I became the treasurer and then decided to take a leadership role and I became the president this year.”
The passion for the issues Women of CUA tackles is something Carlino brought with her from high school.
“I went to an all-girls high school, so women’s empowerment has always been really important to me,” she said. “I really felt that this campus could use it and if there was any way that I could be a part of the change, I wanted to do it in any capacity, whatever it was.”
There are over 100 registered members, but typically 20 to 30 people attend meetings regularly. Carlino said a “good mix” of both men and women usually attend.
“I want to hear what men have to say about the #MeToo movement and I want us all to be smarter and nicer to each other,” Carlino said.
Joslyn Felicijan was part of the group that helped create the club last year and now serves as vice president. The junior history major said what she loves about it is the unique place it has on Catholic’s campus.
“We avidly participate and host serious conversations about gender inequality monthly and not only when movements begin,” Felicijan said. “Women of CUA was created out of discussions concerning gender inequality following the blatant sexism and surge in hate crimes prevalent throughout the fall of 2016 which allowed us to have a concrete platform to apply our conversations to movements such as #MeToo.”
Some at Catholic have labeled Women of CUA as a liberal club, but Carlino disagrees.
“We’re non-partisan,” she said. “We did get the reputation last year that we are very liberal, but we try to make the point that everyone has a voice here, no matter what your political party.”
The club partners with other groups, including Catholic’s College Democrats, College Republicans, and the Black Student Alliance. They host discussions to raise awareness about issues that Carlino says are not talked about.
One the biggest events the club has held was a panel discussion on women in STEM.
“We had seven female professors from the STEM departments come and answer questions about how they got to where they are,” Carlino said.
In the era of #MeToo, Women of CUA is playing an important role about serious conversations some feel need to be happen at Catholic.
“The club has a positive impact in creating a supportive and open environment for serious conversations concerning gender equality, especially on a college campus,” said sophomore Emily D’Antonio.
“It’s a group that supports women in our campus community and creates a safe environment to ask questions and to learn from people with different perspectives and experiences,” D’Antonio said.
Carlino feels Women of CUA can serve as an important resource for anyone on campus who is in need of support.
“Some of our best meetings are when we’ve simply talked about our experiences and how we can help other women,” she said. “Especially with what’s been happening this year, many people are feeling triggered and I want people to know that our club is there for them if they need help.”
Even as the #MeToo movement continues, Carlino remains hopeful for what Women of CUA can do going forward.
“It’s all about trying to empower women in any way we possibly can,” she said. “I’m really hoping that people are just more empowered to make whatever difference they can make.