While attending the National Book Awards at Concordia, I could feel the power and respect for the intellectual female that saturated the Centrum. Both Erica Armstrong Dunbar, author of “Never Caught,” and Nancy MacLean, author of “Democracy in Chains,” were brought in not only as celebrated authors, but as celebrated women. Sophisticated and eloquent historians, the glowing capability of the female species was ever-present during last Thursday’s discussion. The strength it took for Dunbar to fill the holes in African American history and MacLean to view truth as a necessity while single-handedly attempting to out the corruption within our government took more than a normal dose of courage.
These amazing women’s presence to our campus was no coincidence or abnormality. Concordia continues to be a haven for female role models; a feat that is not-so-common these days. This coming fall, Symposium will focus on empowering female ideals revolving around the summer book read, “Power” by Naomi Alderman. Such incorporation from the college not only illuminates the ideology of the powerful women being celebrated, but sets it as a standard. This standard is echoed the classroom at Concordia. Female students are treated as equals and on the occasion that they are not, it is a moment of controversy. Our own campus pastor Elly McHan embodies a woman of strength and calling, and continues the important faith tradition at our college. Female professors are role models as they command many departments, showing students again and again that the power of the mind should never be isolated by gender.
When the 2016 election shook campus last year, many people stepped forward to vocalize the necessity of a female candidate, something long overdue. Students, faculty, and alumni across the board pushed for such ideals to infiltrate the White House walls, not just Knutson’s. Having Concordia as an institution where women fill important roles across campus while celebrating their wonderful capabilities cannot be taken for granted.
Even in the music department, a huge draw to campus, the Concordia Choir is remarkably run by this year’s student manager Megan Hovinen, portraying the power and elegance of the female professional. Other women include Sue, the smiling face of Dining Services; Paulette, the keeper of campus mail; the numerous women that sneak around as gatekeepers and experts of knowledge in our own Carl B. Ylvisaker library; or the wonderful professors in the women and gender studies department who not only advocate for equality, but incorporate it into our curriculum. Having women of accomplishment peppered throughout or campus as role models is important, considering that our student body shakes out to be roughly 65 percent female on average. Sending thoughtful men and women into the world starts with valuing both as equals. Concordia does not take this lightly, but like any institution, there is room for progress. The behind-the-scenes technicalities still reflect a culture biased against women.
There are ways in which Concordia can do better, and it starts with women viewing their biological traits as a gift and not a reality of being subhuman. Fighting against gender inequality within academia, the workforce, and other everyday interactions starts by illuminating heroines. It starts within the education system, and the location Cobbers call home; a home that celebrates and loves females, but has room to improve some of its long-term gender specific actions.