The American Association for Women in Community Colleges is the leading national organization that champions women and maximizes their potential.
AAWCC President's Blog
Alzheimer and Lung Cancer
Brains, Not Clothes
Inside Higher Ed
Find us on Facebook
One of the most infamous and disturbing moments during my undergraduate experience was waking up to the phone call that a freshman had a train run on her by some fraternity members. What is a "train run" you ask? It was a term used to describe when a woman was fooled, coerced, or forced to have sex with several men one after the other.
The year was 1983. This was before Clery and Title IX.
I remember that the first thing that went through my mind was whether or not my then boyfriend, who was a member of that fraternity, was involved. It was later reported that he was not at the fraternity house that night. I was relieved. But then my relief turned to dismay. How could this have happened?
The young woman desperately wanted to be in the fraternity's all-female auxiliary. So, she was pledging the auxiliary. (Note: It was against the rules for fraternities to pledge these type of groups. Female auxiliary group members were supposed to be able to just join.)
Late that night some of the fraternity members called her and asked her to come to the fraternity house. When she arrived she was shocked to find that her line sisters were not present. The fraternity members told her that there was one more pledge task that each line sister had to complete before becoming a member – they would have to have sex with every frat brother. She would be the first and was expected to have sex with each one of them that night if she was going to be initiated. After she completed the "task", the fraternity members laughed at her and said that she would never be initiated because she was a whore. They then told her to get dressed and threw her out of the house. Humiliated, she left college early the next morning never to return that year.
Although probably every African American attending the college got a similar phone call that morning, no one told anyone outside of our circle. The only repercussion for the fraternity members were the disgusted, sideway looks they got from those of us that knew what they had done. We wondered out loud how or why she thought this would be a part of an initiation process, and we chalked up her vulnerability to being a freshman. And then we went on experiencing our everyday lives on a college campus.
It is hard to believe that sexual violence is still present on college campuses today; and that our female students are still letting go of their dreams and goals due to these unwanted – and criminal -- actions. Now, thanks to those that have championed the Clery Act, Title IX, and VAWA, the silence is no longer deafening when these despicable acts occur. The AAWCC National Board has adopted "Increasing the roar to eliminate the culture of silence surrounding sexual violence against women on community college campuses" as the 2015-2016 National Platform. Our organization will spend the year discussing, informing, and advocating for women to have safe campus experiences. I invite you to join us. This is the year to make a difference.
Suddenly there was no air. I could see his mouth moving, but there was no sound. What did he say? My mind felt like I was trapped in some sort of third dimension that left you somewhere between reality and a really bad dream. What did he say? Come on, Beverly, focus. Pay attention.
One morning in the hotel I felt a lump in my nipple. It was in such an odd place so I immediately called the doctor's office from Seattle. I am sure when she looked at my records – clear mammogram, clean bill of health in February – she thought this is just another one of Beverly's lump in breast scares. (I have had lumpy breasts since I was an undergrad at Oklahoma State University.) So, she didn't immediately agree to see me. She put me in the rotation.
October is breast cancer awareness month. Please increase your knowledge and awareness of this potentially devastating disease.
I was heartbroken to receive the news that Dr. Mildred Beatrice Bulpitt, Founder of AAWCC and Leaders Institute, passed away on August 21. Although I never had the honor of meeting her in person, I believe I had begun to know her intimately through her interviews and writings. I didn't fully understand her greatness until I was asked to speak about women in community colleges at the Michigan Community College Association's Summer Workshop. Through the research, I found a new person to celebrate and appreciate! Dr. Bulpitt’s courage, persistence, and moxie captured my inner being. I now understood what great sacrifices had been made so that I could sit in the president’s chair. For that, I will always cherish Mildred, and the multitude of other unknown individuals, that came before me and made a courageous stand for equality in community colleges.
Dr. Bulpitt was a warrior to the end. Long after she retired, she continued to encourage women to have the confidence to move to the head of the line and take the reins of leadership gallantly. I am pleased that she lived to see the fruits of her labor as the number of female community college presidents has increased from approximately 50 in 1980 (when the Leaders Institute began) to 344 in 2015.
Today, I challenge us to remember Dr. Bulpitt and her important work by increasing the number of women in key decision-making roles at every community college. We need to work together to push females through the leadership pipeline and be intentional about moving the needle. Dr. Bulpitt's legacy, and her spirit, remains in all of us. Let's continue what she started!
In 1998, I was a recently divorced, single parent of a six-year old living far away from home in Spokane, Washington. Spokane Community College's Vice President for Student Services, Dan Chacon, had hired me as the Single Parent Counselor in 1995 and had tasked me with creating a program that would retain and graduate the approximately 1000 single parents that attended the college.