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WomensWeek
Credit: Minsuh Park

This year’s annual Penn Women’s Week, held in honor of National Women’s History Month, came to a close after several on-campus organizations convened to highlight women's issues.  

Manager of Penn Women’s Week 2018, member of PAGE, and College sophomore Jenna Liu reflected on the week's programming. 

“All of them were events that were extremely relevant to the Penn community or issues that I think should be more prevalent on campus," Liu said. "I think these events helped a lot of people learn information that shocked them, that touched them, and I hope that leads to further exploration of women’s issues.” 

The Penn Association for Gender Equity and Penn Democrats hosted multiple events, such as the “Know Your IX” panel discussion on Tuesday. The event focused on Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments Act and its lasting effect on the ways that universities handle sexual assault. 

Experts at the panel explained Penn's specific process in responding to reports of sexual violence and resources on and off-campus that survivors can turn to.  

Penn sexual violence investigative officer and panelist, Deborah Harley, spoke about her work in conducting investigations about on-campus sexual assault.

“I am driven to be fair and equitable to both the complainant and the respondent,” she said. “We are all working together to make sure that the involved parties feel safe and supported.” 

President of Penn Democrats and Wharton sophomore Dylan Milligan, discussed some of the highlights from this year’s Women’s Week.

“I really think the panelists were great and extremely qualified,” he said. “[Harley] has 25 years of experience and she had a lot of interesting insights about the process and problems that students face when reporting sexual violence on campus. I’m glad we chose to invite her.”

Another major event was Thursday's “Beyond Our Jails” panel discussion. Co-sponsored by PAGE and the student organization Beyond Arrests: Re-Thinking Systematic Oppression, it featured five formerly-incarcerated women speaking about their issues with the criminal justice system. 

The discussion highlighted gender issues in incarceration, specifically.  

“There’s a huge problem that nobody talks about when it comes to women’s prisons,” said panelist April Hobbs. “When you arrest a woman, you rob a community. Women nurture the community and by taking them away, you’re hurting everyone else. One arrest means so much more than just one woman.”

Other events throughout the week included a feminist quizzo and a film screening. Student organizations Table Talk held a discussion on gender and identity, and Penn Non-Cis co-hosted a discussion on the policing and discrimination of protests.   

Liu explained how the events successfully accomplished tackling this year’s theme of “Existence as Resistance.”

“Overall, I think that all of these events highlighted the voices of women who might not always be heard in our society,” she said. “With our theme of existence as resistance — of not focusing on high-profile huge acts of activism — we instead focused on these small, everyday acts that many women go through that form this culture of resistance.” 

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