Feminism on KU Campus: The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance

Even though it is technically my last semester on campus, since I'm student teaching next semester, I decided to join a club in September, and I have not regretted it for a single moment. I remember walking around the club fair, looking for feminist groups to join, and that's exactly what I found: FMLA, or the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. The group may be small, but we are mighty—and we are especially mighty because of our leader, Kutztown junior Rachael Cohen-Hamilton, a political science major. If you believe that feminism is just about women's rights, you will immediately be proven wrong when you come to an FMLA meeting on any given Tuesday morning, because FMLA focuses on intersectionality: men's issues, LGBTQ issues, and race issues! Our first event for next semester is screening a documentary called "The Mask You Live In," which is about toxic masculinity, and many of our events are co-sponsored with the Women's Center, the GLBTQ Center or Allies of KU. She was also highly active in the APSCUF strike on Kutztown's campus because her mother is a campus employee.

(Rachael and her mother during the APSCUF Strike)

As president of FMLA, Rachael's goal is to teach people that feminism is both wide-reaching and important, not the skewed, "anti-men" movement that the Internet seems to perpetuate sometimes. She believes that the greatest threat to women is currently the discourse surrounding Roe vs. Wade and access to abortions because she believes that most women simply take it for granted and refuse to believe that it may ever disappear—when in reality, it is under wide scrutiny and is already trying to be repealed in some states. In her last year, she hopes to enact a passion for social change in the members of FMLA, and that the group productively goes forward to advocate for women's rights and intersectionality in every facet of society. 

(FMLA at the table during National Voter Registration Day)

She first joined FMLA her freshman year when she was volunteering at the Women's Center and was invited by the then-president of FMLA, and since then, she has taken every opportunity to take part in the events and worked her way up to being president of the club. 

Most of the questions I asked her in the interview were about the 2016 Presidential Election, and her views on it both as president of FMLA and Kutztown Vote Everywhere Ambassador. During the election, she helped around 1,000 KU students register to vote, both in person and online; planned and carried out the Fall Week of Action, which included a Women and Voting Panellivestreaming the Presidential Debates on campus and informing students of the candidates' positions on important areas, like education, women's rights, and disability rights. Perhaps the most important part of Rachael's Vote Everywhere position was advocating for the shuttle on campus on election day, which took students to vote across town every hour on the hour, making it easier for every student to vote. 

(Rachael and her friend Nykolai, the KU Vote Everywhere Ambassadors, on voting day)

During the election, she believed that the most important thing for students was to be informed of the positions and to vote using their conscience, not being skewed by the media and their friends, which was extremely difficult this year. She believes that many people were caught up and excited about the attributes of the candidates and their rhetoric instead of voting on policy. While she is brought down by the election results, she was focused on the importance of voting with your conscience, not your Facebook feed. She hopes that, though the amounts of violence and rioting have grown since the election, people will be able to look past their differences and fight for a better America for everyone instead of perpetuating white supremacy. 

Through FMLA, she will not stop fighting for intersectionality; this includes arranging a bus from campus to take part in the Women's March on Washington on Inaugaration Day and openly discussing the rights of the oppressed all over campus and not just in the comfort of the Women's Oasis, where FMLA meetings take place. It is the college students who can help enact the greatest change, she believes, and because of this, she will not normalize the hate that the election has perpetuated. She can only hope that there are as many people excited about activism on campus as she is.