UNT communication studies students put on 15th gender fair, educate the public about gender topics

UNT communication studies students put on 15th gender fair, educate the public about gender topics

UNT communication studies students put on 15th gender fair, educate the public about gender topics
November 29
00:51 2018

About 500 students and staff members stopped by Union Ballroom 314 to attend UNT’s 15th gender fair, put on by students within the communication studies program.

This year’s theme was Camp Gender and included typical aspects of camping that students and staff might experience while on a camping trip, such as tug-of-war, s’mores and craft-making.  The camp theme was incorporated into various interactive stations and posters that served to inform the community about the ways gender effects everyone’s lives and explored topics such as feminism, rape culture and masculinity.

Suzanna Enck, associate professor of communication studies, has been helping to coordinate the event since its inception in 2009, when she first started teaching for the university. The students in her communication studies class worked all semester to prepare for the fair.

“This is the 15th one, so it’s the culminating project for the gender and communication students,” Enck said. “So, they work on it kind of all semester. They get assigned to a group pretty early on, by like the second week of class. And then we have various assignments all semester, [which] leads to this big thing.”

Students and staff with varying levels of knowledge on gender were encouraged to attend Camp Gender.

Hannah Davis and Kelvin Land tug on their end of the rope during a game of Tug-Of-War. Ashley Gallegos

“I think having fairs like this is just a good idea for people who are not educated [on gender], like myself, to be able to walk in and see all the different poster boards and see actual people who have knowledge on this [subject] and are [learning] it,” English junior Andrew Ledbetter said.

Enck shared her goals for the future of the event.

“My goal is to always grow the event and to just reach more people,” Enck said. “I would love to see us reach beyond the UNT community because I think our college campus students seem to get a lot of these conversations but maybe if you go further in to Denton or Texas Women’s University. It’s just different conversations.”

As a member of the Gender Fair Oversight Committee, communication studies and social sciences senior Ian Etheridge shared his role in preparing for the fair and how the success of previous gender fairs put certain expectations on him.

“I guess taking on something that’s been done before, you might not have it, but you feel like you have an expectation where you kind of want to meet the nostalgia and excitement of past gender fairs,” Etheridge said.

Etheridge said he felt all of the challenges that went in to preparing for the fair were worth it in the end.

Leaves on the “Sexual Tree” at the gender fair. Those who attended the fair were encouraged to write on the leaves and stick them on. Ashley Gallegos

“Seeing groups get super excited about the work they’re doing and the work they’re going to present is really rewarding,” Etheridge said. “When we were decorating, seeing everything come together, seeing that the Union is filled, seeing that people are coming in excited [is rewarding.]”

Assistant professor of communication studies Joseph McGlynn shared insight on what he would like to see included in future gender fairs.

“I’m curious to see what happens in future gender fairs with gender and say technology,” McGlynn said. “We talk about things like TV and movies, but I’m interested to see how people use social media to express their gender, how they use those technology platforms and how those technology platforms maybe influence the way we communicate gender.”

Etheridge shared some of his final thoughts on what he hopes the community can take away from the gender fair and how it can be applicable to creating a more inclusive environment for everyone.

“There’s no hurting anybody in learning this information, you’re actually bettering the people who have been normally hurt,” Etheridge said. “The people who really aren’t affected by normative standards, they’re not hurt either because you’re not excluding them, you’re just including everybody.”

Featured Image: Hannah Mosing and Alyssa Armendarez talk to gender fair attendees. Both Hannah and Alyssa are in Dr. Enck’s gender and communication studies course as well as the other students there seen in green Camp Gender shirts. Ashley Gallegos

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Alex Hall

Alex Hall

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