By Leo Brine
In an effort to empower women and address issues inhibiting female leadership, several speakers were invited to the Netherlands Core on Tuesday, Oct. 24 to participate in an event called “Your Platform, Your Voice.”
New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, Mercury Managing Director Rachel Noerdlinger and Senior Features Writer Torey Van Oot from Refinery29 were three female leaders featured at the event which was organized by Hofstra’s Campus Feminist Collective (CFC). All three speakers shared their thoughts on problems facing women today and the importance of women being vocal about issues they see.
“It was when I was with women I realized I had a voice … together we were able to align around some amazing issues,” Noerdlinger said.
One topic the event covered was the lack of women in government and discrimination women in government face. “… I would hope to see more opportunities for myself in the political sphere,” said Maryam Qureshi, a junior majoring in political science in addition to public policy and public service.
When Solages first joined the legislature, she was told, “‘There’s two things you don’t do as a woman legislator. You don’t get a dog and you don’t have a child …’ now I have a cute dog and a cute baby. It’s a totally different culture because we changed the leadership.”
While Solages was able to stand up against the norm and make a change, many women do not feel they are able to do so. Women often feel the need to apologize because they do not have the same opportunities as men, especially in politics. “Representation matters so much … you do not see women run for government in college; it starts that early …” Van Oot said.
Some women here at Hofstra have run for office and have been very successful including both the Student Government Association’s (SGA) president, Rita Cinquemani and vice president, Abby Normandin. Freshman public policy major Isabelle Schmidt has also held political roles at Hofstra. “I’m … in the student services committee [of SGA.] That was my number one choice for a committee because I felt like it was really hands on with on-campus events and programs,” Schmidt said. “Also, if students ever have problems or ideas or initiatives they can come straight to us with what they want or what they need and we can do our best to try and help them out.”
The speakers want women to become as confident as men so that they too can make changes. “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed … be self-defined and don’t let others try to define who you are. Men have always tried to define what we do and who we are … the key for me has been to not let others define me,” Noerdlinger said.
Platform is a nonprofit organization with many chapters including Hofstra’s CFC that was founded in hopes of uplifting women. Platform Co-founder and Managing Director Jennifer Mandelblatt said, “There are incredible women like Rachel, like Michaelle, like Torey who want to get involved. It’s always amazed me the people that want to empower and support and encourage young women … [I hope that those who attended know] that they can do it.”
The CFC organized the event without any help from the school. The organization’s president, Lola Solis, who is a junior history and women’s studies major said, “We wanted to do this on our own … We will continue to work with Platform because we are a student chapter. They were such a big help and I’m really happy to know we have them for support.”