15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference encourages change

By Kaitlin Lott

Staff Writer

 Jamie Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was presented with the Mary F. Rodgers Women’s Studies Faculty Award at the 15th annual women’s studies conference on March 21.

Jamie Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was presented with the Mary F. Rodgers Women’s Studies Faculty Award at the 15th annual women’s studies conference on March 21.

As doors opened for the Mary F. Rodgers Luncheon and Award Presentation Ceremony during the 15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference, students, alumni and presenters engaged in talk of feminist issues, change and campus awareness.

The conference was held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 21, in the Commons Conference Center. Forums from “Women in the Early Americas” to “Male Privilege” were in full swing, as well as student art and poster presentations covering sexual violence to women’s rights. Awards were presented to both students and staff at the conference, which concluded the night with keynote speaker Anne Fausto-Sterling.

The Mary F. Rodgers luncheon is named in honor of a Women’s Studies faculty member who taught classes in feminist theory, social change and reform, social justice and inequality, and qualitative research. Rodgers first position with UWF was in 1976 as an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She later she served as chairperson two years for this department prior to serving as the acting dean for the College of Arts and Sciences from 1984 to 1986. Rodgers died unexpectedly at the age of 64 on February 27, 2009. Colleagues and friends remember Rodgers as an inspiring, brilliant success, a “champion of the underdog and the underprivileged” who remains an inspiration to students, colleagues and administrators at UWF.

As guests took their seats, Steven F. Brown, dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, congratulated and introduced Jamie Snyder, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, as the annual faculty recipient of the Mary F. Rodgers Women’s Studies Faculty Award. The recipient of this award receives a $500 award, speaks at the annual Women’s Studies Conference and is selected for his or her significant contribution to the Women’s Gender Studies.

“I heard someone once say the important things in life are the ones that happen in the margin, that happen sometimes between the lines. I think nowhere is that more true that UWF’s campus,” Brown said. “What is important are the things we experience outside of the classroom.  But truthfully, the things that restructure, reform, redirect society and culture are most often those things that take place outside of the classroom, allowing us to congeal, develop and to apply the truth and the facts that we’ve picked up.”

Brown continued to explain the value of how the Women’s Studies Conference, in lieu of Snyder’s efforts and studies, may not line up with typical classroom norms, but disrupt and challenge the minds of students.

“The disruption of the normal, of the traditional, of the status quo, if we can’t do that, of what benefit are we to society?” Brown said. “How do we hope to ever have a positive impact on the growth and the development of society? So really what you’re involved with here is to an extent a disruptive activity, and I congratulate you on that.”

Snyder said she was “excited and humbled to receive the award.” She said she wanted to be a psychologist or psychiatrist, but ultimately took a different career path. “In my sophomore undergraduate year of college, I had the opportunity to work for the National Institute for Occupation of Safety and Health,” Snyder said. She began to change her focus to workplace violence, and soon became heavily interested in victimization of college students. After narrowing her focus, she remained on the same topic of study throughout her graduate and doctorate studies. Currently her specialization is victimology.

Her presentation focused on factors for sexual victimization from intimate partner violence to sexual violence. Snyder covered in-depth factors that increase victimization in college students, such as their social habits, whether or not they are in a sorority or fraternity, their sexual orientation and whether or not they had ADHD. Her presentation was a summary of data collected and reviewed from a case study of 26,000 college student representatives nationwide.

After answering the audience’s questions, Snyder stressed her appreciation for the award and the Women’s Studies Program. “It’s not every day that you get to stand up in front of a room of people and talk about what you’re passionate about,” Snyder said.

The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies interdisciplinary specialization focuses on educational excellence, personal growth, civic awareness and unique learning opportunities besides the everyday classroom curriculum. Students involved in the program learn how raising questions, creating new knowledge and problem solving can be mastered from different disciplines and various directions, in regards to a wide range of majors and minors regardless of their focus.

Erica Miller and Brittany Hammock, co-presidents of the Women’s Studies Collective, and Katherine Romack, coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, dedicated this year’s conference to Women’s Studies program supporters. The conference would not be possible without the generosity of its sponsors and continuous help from all of the organizations involved.

For more information regarding the Women and Gender Studies Program, contact Romack at kromack@uwf.edu or the program advisor, Rebecca Steward, at 474-2672, or visit the Women’s Studies page.