Each year, the communication department selects a small group of applicants for its honors convergence course. Over the course of the entire school year, students set out to collect interviews, produce videos, create text and infographic pieces to educate the greater population on a social justice issue.
This year, the group of students chose the topic “Rethinking Gender” and focused on gender issues in today’s society.
“As a class of 12 females, we had a lot of different discussions about whether or not it would be problematic to cover gender issues, but we decided we were the perfect group to do it,” Cecelia Heckman, senior digital communication and social media major, said. “We made sure to get as many interviews with men, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community in order to avoid the bias of being a group of all cisgender females.”
The students in this group were able to hear many different stories from different people who identify with different genders. This project allowed them to expand their knowledge on gender issues and understand the fear some of the individuals interviewed face due to how they identify.
“The most impactful part of this project for me was listening to the personal stories of those who are discriminated against for how they identify,” Ashley Sierzega, senior digital communication and social media major, said. “I was fortunate enough to gain the trust of these people who have been through so much and have them share the good and the bad of their lived experiences.”
Sierzega wants people who visit the site to understand the different components of a person’s gender identity, and understand the difference between biological sex, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and sexual attraction.
By spending so much time on this site throughout the entire academic year, students in the course have learned a lot and hope that those viewing the site learn a lot as well.
“I personally feel like I’ve learned to always be respectful of people’s personal preferences and never make assumptions when it comes to personal pronouns and gender identity,” Heckman said.
The site, RethinkingGender.com, launches Thursday, May 3rd, 2018.