PDS Hosts its First Student-Run N.O.W. Conference


Courtesy of Nazareth Mehreteab

Nazareth Mehreteab, Features Associate

May 4 marked the date of “The Time is NOW,” the first conference of PDS’s National Organization of Women club (N.O.W). Under the leadership and initiative of N.O.W club coheads and seniors Raina Kasera, Nina Kanamaluru, and Lea Namouni, along with faculty advisor Karen Latham, the club planned and organized this special day over the course of several months. Throughout the event, participants who hailed from high schools all over New Jersey engaged in thought-provoking discussions surrounding the topics of women’s rights and intersectional feminism. These students were also offered the opportunities to discuss a wide range of topics in student-led workshops, participate in a Privilege Walk, and hear from impressive keynote speakers.

Whether participants engaged in a Harkness discussion or watched a captivating TEDx talk, the small, student-led workshop sessions were undoubtedly one of the many highlights of the day. Each workshop covered the five National Action Campaigns of the N.O.W program—protecting the rights of immigrants, advancing voting rights, fighting racial injustice, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, and ending the criminalization of trauma—in a unique and engaging manner. Overall, the workshop sessions were a productive time to discuss the moral rights of underrepresented groups in our society and to connect with peers who were equally enthusiastic about these topics.

Courtesy of Nazareth Mehreteab

Following the workshop sessions, students took part in a fascinating Privilege Walk. In the activity, a statement regarding gender, racial, or socioeconomic privilege was read aloud and participants took a step backward or forwards depending on their response to this statement. At the end of the activity, respondents would look around and see where they ended up relative to everyone else. The farther forward an individual, the more privileged they were according to the specific gender, racial, and socioeconomic measurements. Memorable statements included, “If there are more than 50 books in your household, take a step forward,” and, “If you ever saw members of your race, ethnic group, or gender portrayed on television in degrading roles, take a step backward.” This activity further allowed participants to become more aware of their respective privilege, reflect on it, and compare it with that of their fellow peers.  Junior Zoe Rivera, Director of Communications for the N.O.W conference, noted that “[The Privilege Walk] showed me that despite conventional racial boundaries, I was still in a similar position to everyone else, and that was eye-opening.”