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A Semester in Review: Spring 2020

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

In its inaugural semester, the Northeastern University Interdisciplinary Women’s Council (IWC) made several significant strides in establishing itself as a leader of gender advocacy efforts on Northeastern’s campus.



In its inaugural semester, the Northeastern University Interdisciplinary Women’s Council (IWC) made several significant strides in establishing itself as a leader of gender advocacy efforts on Northeastern’s campus.


The council, which was officially created in late January, came to be after the co-presidents of the organization, Emerson Victoria Johnston and Stephanie Luiz, were named the chair and vice-chair of a women’s committee in an otherwise non-gender focus club on campus. During the three months working with the committee, both women felt there was a significant lack of attention given to gender equality on campus, but despite their best efforts to foster communication and community through this original committee, the male president of that organization remained unreceptive.


“It was really hard to work under a president who seemed uninterested in what we were doing and unwilling to give us the flexibility we needed to make our vision a reality,” says co-president, Emerson Johnston. “That’s not to say that he didn’t actually care... he just didn’t seem to have the time or want to work with us.”


After meeting a few times with Heather Hauck, a member of the Northeastern faculty who would soon become one of the organization’s two faculty advisors, Emerson and Stephanie realized the need for the space they wanted to create was there, but it needed to be created independent of another organization. In the coming weeks, the women drafted the organization’s constitution and began putting together a leadership board. By early February, the IWC was born.


After the recognition process with CSI was over, the women went straight to work on that year’s International Women’s Day event (IWD). This, they maintain, is the pinnacle of the IWC. “I think it is critical to remember that while we, as women, still experience hardship in the United States, this only becomes a more pressing issue globally. We need a day to recognize these discrepancies—particularly given the number of international students we have—and talk about how we can fix these disparities,” says co-president, Stephanie Luiz.


After the planning was over and the event was scheduled, the day featured six, hour-long panels, thirty invited speakers, a catered lunch, and a keynote address by former Massachusetts First Lady and wife of 2020 Presidential Candidate Bill Weld, Leslie Marshall. The IWC worked with the Northeastern University Office of Alumni Relations to make the event a reality. The event was unfortunately canceled due to the COVID19 pandemic, but the council has every intention of making this year’s celebration just as spectacular.


Outside of IWD, the council also focused its efforts towards advocacy. The council wrote and sponsored two student government association referendums focused on providing free feminine hygiene products in every woman’s and gender-neutral bathroom on campus. Though these initiatives were not chosen as part of the five allowed to be presented to the Northeastern University Administration, the council continued this effort by working with SGA directly to make this a reality and does so to this day.


The council boasts an impressive first semester, especially in light of the COVID19 pandemic, which saw the removal of the Northeastern University student body from the school’s campus in early March. That said, its plans for the fall are far more ambitious.

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Est. January 2020 | Boston, Massachusetts