Sophia plans for Women’s History Month

Sophia plans for Women's History Month

by Rhea Purvis

“Sophia” means wisdom in Greek. At Simpson, it translates into a group of men and women devoted to empowering women.

Sophomore Kayla Burkhiser said Sophia serves a variety of purposes.

“Sophia is about raising awareness on campus and everywhere else that the women’s movement is still kicking,” she said. “But it is also greatly about service – showing compassion and love for those women who need it most.”

Sophia was started originally by Sal Meyers, associate professor of psychology. Soon after that, CoryAnne Harrigan, assistant professor of English, became the adviser. Professor of English Nancy St. Clair is currently the group’s adviser.

According to St. Clair, many of the members of Sophia graduated at the same time and the group became dormant, but recently the group has been rekindled by several interested students.

They met last fall for their first meeting, and now they meet every other Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Mary Berry. About 12 members attend regular meetings, and five other students cannot make meetings but are interested in helping the group.

The group is open to anyone who’s interested in its events. Sophomore Curtis DeVetter said he’s involved in order to expand others’ understanding of feminism.

“I think it’s very important for people to understand that feminism isn’t about world domination and resurrecting the Amazon lifestyle, but rather striving for a world where both sexes are given the same opportunities, rights, privileges and respect,” DeVetter said.

According to St. Clair, Sophia has many activities planned. The members are going to Moulton Extended Learning Center in Des Moines where they will be mentors for female students from low-income families.

The group is currently planning several events for Women’s History Month. Sophia members will have the opportunity to go to Cornell College for the “Feminist Symposium” on March 18. Shortly after that, on March 20, the group will have a booth in the Brenton Student Center selling buttons to raise awareness about domestic violence. On March 23, Sophia will have a “Take Back the Night” rally for victims of violence.

Sophomore Ali Jepsen said there was no question of whether the group is determined to succeed. She said the group’s goals range from raising women’s self-esteem to showing a side of feminism that people rarely see.

“Sophia is a group of people that want to help people in a different way,” she said. “This is no different than doing a blood drive or visiting the elderly. Sophia is helping women and educating women.”

Burkhiser agreed that Sophia is an educational experience.

“It is crucial to those of us involved in Sophia that women be aware of their situation in the world, that they consider where they are going, and that we, collectively as respectable men and women, take action against the injustices inflicted on women,” Burkhiser said.

Freshman Chris Petrick isn’t a member of Sophia, but he’s not opposed to the group’s efforts.

“I find that feminism, when done in moderation, is beneficial to everyone involved,” Petrick said. “It provides women with equal opportunities as well as educates males in terms of the issues.”