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College junior Kaneesha Parsard was elected the new chairwoman of the Penn Consortium for Undergraduate Women last week. She plans to increase collaboration with other minority groups.

After College junior Kaneesha Parsard became the first-ever democratically elected Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women chairwoman, The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with her to discuss women’s identity at Penn, increased collaboration among minority groups and plans for a new rape crisis center in Philadelphia.

The Daily Pennsylvanian: What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Kaneesha Parsard: I want to extend PCUW’s reach across campus. I want to increase collaboration with other student coalitions, including minority coalitions, coalitions like PRISM, the interfaith coalition, and [the Civic House Associates Coalition]. Just in an attempt to ensure that women on campus can see all of their identities represented in PCUW and just to create a diversity of events for our constituent groups during Women’s Week that appeal to the 5,000 undergraduate women.

I also think it’s really important in light of PCUW’s increasingly political presence on campus that PCUW has more access to the administration, so we’re hoping to have more face time with the Office of the President, the vice provost of University Life, perhaps even the University Council.

DP: Why did you run for chair of PCUW?

KP: I was the vice chair of University Relations last year and that was my first year on the PCUW board. I really got a chance to work with the former chair Rosa Cui really closely, so in addition to my own role, I was the direct liaison between our constituency and the wider University. I got to see the every day role of a chair, so I thought it was a natural progression.

DP: How would you describe the presence of women at Penn?

KP: I think women on campus have a very complex presence. For one, I think PCUW represents a very unique constituency in that women come from every corner of campus with a diversity of interests and backgrounds. Also, in some ways, women have a lot in common with a lot of minority coalitions, but in other ways when it comes to issues of representation at the undergraduate level, we’re not exactly a small presence.

DP: What would you like to see PCUW do differently next year?

KP: PCUW internally needs a more cohesive community because our constituency is so wide-reaching. It’s really difficult to organize around a single set of issues because we work with so many different perspectives. We’re hoping to institute our first leadership retreat for the leaders of our constituent groups, which will start in the fall. Hopefully we can start to understand what it means to be a woman at Penn.

DP: Are there any big events that you and the rest of the board are trying to push for?

KP: One of our biggest goals is to establish an additional stand alone rape designated center in the city of Philadelphia. I co-authored a petition with former chair Rosa to establish the hospital at the University of Pennsylvania as an additional rape designated center. Over the course of a few months and after several meetings with different law enforcement, medical and judicial figures in the city, we realized that a stand alone center is the best way to go.

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