First Bag Lunch Seminar Showcases Olympe de Gouges

Over two dozen Colgate students and faculty members gathered in the Women’s Studies lounge on Tuesday for the first Bag Lunch Seminar of the year. Tuesday’s seminar was entitled “The Feminist that Lost her Head.” Julien spoke about Olympe de Gouges, a French feminist, who literally lost her head for her strong beliefs.”The Bag Lunch Seminar stems from a long tradition of Colgate women getting together in the basement of the Chapel in the spirit of sharing, community, and support,” the new Director of Women’s studies and this week’s Bag Lunch Seminar speaker Helene Julien said. Olympe, who spoke out during the French Revolution, fought for equal rights between a husband and a wife as well as the abolition of slavery, abortion and the death penalty. She is considered to be one of the founding feminists who paved the way for today’s female advocates. Olympe was beheaded by the guillotine on November 3, 1793 because of her objection to current French policies and principles. However, Olympe’s actions did not go unnoticed.[Olympe de Gouge] invites you to fight all forms of oppression,” Julien said. “It’s not about limiting ourselves to our borders”The message seemed to touch many people. Among those in the audience was sophomore Natasha McGregor, who had never attended a Bag Lunch Seminar before. ” The title, caught my attention right away,” she said. “I enjoyed the lecture a lot, hearing about one of the first feminists out there.”Sophomore Meghan Frye, who attended a few lectures last year also felt inspired by the discussion. “[The lecture] was a nice start to the year,” she said. “It gave me some background into what the center wants to do. It’s interesting to know ideas have been around for so long.” Frye is now interested in learning more about women’s issues. “If I want to be more involved in making a change,” she said. “I think this is the best time to get involved”. Sophomore Tiffany Kuehner was equally intrigued by Julien’s topic. “Many times we get stuck looking at feminists in America, and we don’t look at women outside our world…especially woman who have really paved the way,” Kuehner said. “It’s inspiring.” Although the Bag Lunch Seminars have been increasing in popularity, Julien encourages more students to take advantage of the Women’s Studies Department. “It’s the best that Colgate has to offer,” she said. “People [here] have a very profound interest in effecting the world around them. It’s a place of community, safety and all of its manifestation is embraced.” Julien is worried that some students will be discouraged by the title “Women’s” Studies. “People have misconceptions that only women study women,” Julien said. “Women’s studies is open to everyone. We regularly have male students, but it’s sad that they are a minority. Women’s Studies is based on a fundamental principle of inclusion that applies to the everyday topics studied and the approaches taken as much as to the ‘audience’ invited.”Although the Women’s Studies lounge was filled on Tuesday, Julien stresses that there is always room for more people at Brown Lunch Seminars. “At least pop your head in because you’ll learn a little something each time,” Kuehner said. “The discussions are always extremely interesting and captivating.” In the future the focusof the Brown Bags will vary widely. Despite the diversity of topics, there is one thing that you can always rely on when you come to the Women’s Studies lounge. “Here, you can be who you are and [feel] safe being who you are,” Julien said. “Like Julien said, you do feel really safe here,” McGregor said. “I felt at ease. It was a very comfortable environment,”