The campus group is aligning with the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, but maintaining the same platform. In order to seek more support and greater resources, the Penn chapter of the National Organization of Women voted to change its name and affiliation to the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance last week. College junior Angie Liou, who is a tri-chairperson of the new FMLA, said one reason for the change was that the campus women's group didn't focus enough on legislative and national issues as a NOW chapter. Whereas Penn's NOW chapter used to have greater contact with the national group, "as people graduated, that connection was eventually lost [and] NOW really isn't set up for that," Liou said. Still, organizers maintained that the basic principles behind the women's group would not change along with its title. "FMLA will help teach everyone to lead and organize," College senior and FMLA tri-chairperson Kim Junod said. "Our aim really hasn't changed.? FMLA has the same stance on the issues [as NOW]." FMLA is designed specifically to create interaction between campus chapters, as well as to provide support for their various groups throughout the country. Founded in part by Eleanor Smeal, a former president of NOW, the goal of the FMLA is to create a network through which young women can learn from each other in order to become leaders and activists of women's environmental and minority issues. "We were never really affiliated with the national organization of NOW," Junod said. "Now, we will be in closer communication with the national group." Junod stressed her belief that FMLA chapters are more connected to each other. "We feel [FMLA] is making an effort to help out younger feminists," she said. One of the resources that the FMLA provides is a group of field representatives for each region of the country. Agents work with students and faculty to establish FMLA groups on different campuses, keeping each group informed about happenings at other campuses and serving as a connection to the Feminist Majority Foundation, the FMLA's Washington, D.C.-based parent organization. The FMLA also has a World Wide Web site to facilitate campus-to-campus interaction and conversation. In addition, each member receives a binder with tips for effective speaking and leadership skills, as well as information about important topics such as reproductive issues, violence against women and women in the workplace. Most former NOW members reacted positively to the switch. "The organization and assistance FMLA offers [is helpful]," School of Social Work staff member Craig Abbs said. "This year, we're going to get a lot more accomplished." College senior Hema Sarangapani, chairperson of the Women's Alliance and a member of the FLMA, agreed. "The support [the FLMA] gives us is very important -- it has a lot more resources to help out younger feminists," she said. Not everyone felt that the change was necessarily a good idea, however. "I was hesitant about the change," College senior Shirley Zilberstein said. "I have been a member of NOW going on six years.? I still held to the belief that NOW had a stronger, more well-known history and better name recognition." Despite some mixed feelings, most everyone agreed on the need for a feminist group at the University. "I'll still be a strong supporter no matter what the name, and if this attracts more people, so much the better," Zilberstein said. At their first meeting last night as the new organization, the group fleshed out some of their goals for the year, including bringing Smeal to speak on campus and supporting the Progressive Activist Network's upcoming No Sweat campaign against sweatshop labor. In addition to organizing events and supporting others, FMLA is eager to increase its visibility on campus. "We seek to increase the feminist voice on campus and make sure women are heard," Sarangapani said.Comments powered by Disqus
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