From an Alternative Fall Break Participant:



Even as I threw my duffle bag into the car early Thursday morning, I had no idea what the next few days were going to look like. I was excited, and maybe a little nervous, to be headed to Asheville with eight other UNC students on an Alternative Fall Break trip with the Carolina Women’s Center. While I hardly knew my team members, I had a feeling we would quickly become good friends, especially because we were all united under a common cause.

Our team partnered with Our Voice, a rape crisis center in Asheville, to participate in their bar outreach program. After a brief training at Our Voice, we split into small groups and began going to bars, restaurants, and clubs throughout Asheville. Our goal during these visits was to inform bar staff and patrons about drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), create dialogue around alcohol impairment, and promote bystander intervention from bar staff. We accomplished these goals by posting fliers in each establishment’s bathrooms (the fliers also had tear-offs on the bottom with the number for the Our Voice rape crisis hotline). We were able to provide bar owners with information on recognizing DFSA and how they could best handle situations in which they suspected someone was trying to commit DFSA. Lastly, we informed owners and other staff members about upcoming trainings that Our Voice would be conducting. At this training, they could explore issues surrounding drug and alcohol facilitated sexual assault more in-depth.

I had never participated in bar outreach before the trip, and I thought it was an incredible experience. In one of the bars we visited, I noticed that some of the bathroom stalls still had old “Our Voice” fliers on the doors. However, all the rape crisis hotline tear-offs had been taken. It was sad to think that men and women had experienced sexual assault, but at the same time, I was thankful that Our Voice could be a resource for these people and that the fliers were helping survivors. Seeing how the fliers were directly helping members of the Asheville community had a huge impact on me, and I knew when I saw them that our work was making a difference.

Another experience I will never forget was meeting “Anita.” Anita helped manage three local clubs, and she was locking up the building for the afternoon when we arrived. She told us that she was about to leave to meet some friends at a concert. But when we told her that we were with Our Voice, Anita quickly reopened the building and offered to help us in any way possible. Anita not only allowed us to post our fliers in the building, but she thanked us numerous times for volunteering with Our Voice. She was extremely grateful for our help, and Anita even shared some of her own experiences with drug facilitated sexual assault. Seeing how Anita made us a top priority really reinforced how important our work was, and it made me especially thankful for the opportunities we had throughout the trip.

In addition to having incredible bar outreach experiences, our team got to stay in a farmhouse that was built in 1806. We had so much fun cooking meals, sharing life stories, and taking crazy pictures during our time together. We also got to spend one morning hiking through the beautiful Asheville mountains! Our team had a lot of time to explore the city, eat at the local restaurants, and just enjoy a break from school! Even though our team was only together for a short period of time, I grew very close to the girls on the trip. Overall, it was an experience that I will never forget, and I would do the trip all over again if I had the opportunity.

Our next step is to bring the bar outreach program to Chapel Hill. All the girls on the trip agreed that UNC’s campus could definitely benefit from bar outreach. There are several bars throughout the town that directly impact students. Therefore, we want to work with the Raise the Bar Chapel Hill bar outreach program that is run by the Orange County Rape Crisis Center  and Student Wellness. The program seeks to best help Chapel Hill bar owners recognize and handle DFSA. While establishing an effective program will certainly take time, we want to use Our Voice as a model for our efforts, and we look forward to seeing how we can use our experiences in Asheville to benefit our Chapel Hill community.

- Marissa Bane, Class of 2016

Re-writing the Policy on Sexual Misconduct

For a couple of weeks this summer, I have been able to sit in on meetings of UNC’s Title IX task force as part of my job at the Women’s Center. The task force is charged with reviewing the current policy and process for handling student complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, and I have been taking notes at the meetings.
Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at schools and universities. Title IX is usually associated with the concept of gender equity in athletics, it is much broader, addressing all forms of sexual harassment. More information about Title IX at UNC is available at the Campus Conversation About Sexual Assault website. In light of recent instances of sexual misconduct on campus, the Equal Opportunity/ ADA office appointed the task force of twenty-two representatives from the University to make recommendations for any necessary changes to the sexual misconduct policy.
From the perspective of an intern at the Carolina Women’s Center, sitting in on the Title IX meetings has been interesting not only to see the attention being given to sexual misconduct, but also to see the importance of intersectionality in the policy. One of the reasons the CWC collaborates so often with other centers and departments around campus is that gender is one aspect of an individual’s identity, and it interacts with other aspects of identity, like race, sexual orientation, and class. Because the Title IX policy will not exist in a vacuum, it must be designed to help individuals manage unique situations related to intersectionality.
The challenges of writing recommendations for the Title IX policy do not stop with issues of intersectionality. As an MPA student, it has been interesting to see challenges in the process I hadn’t thought about before such as giving careful attention to the language of the policy and managing group dynamics, not to mention communicating with constituents each step of the way about the process. I don’t know how one even begins to take on such a complicated and significant policy, but I am excited to see the recommendations from the Title IX committee!

A Staff Perspective on the Senate Budget Proposal

In planning for the CWC staff needs assessment, I have been trying to learn more about staff issues and needs at UNC. So, last Wednesday, my supervisor and I attended the Employee Forum’s community meeting, which occurs at least once every year. The Employee Forum is a group of UNC staff  who are elected by their peers to address staff concerns and communicate recommendations to UNC’s administration. The meeting was an opportunity for employees to express their concerns about issues impacting staff and to hear responses from panelists including UNC President Tom Ross and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp.

A major point of discussion was the Senate’s budget proposal, which was released Sunday, May 19th. The Senate’s proposal allocates more funding to UNC than Governor McCrory’s proposal, but this still represents a significant cut from last year’s budget. This cut coupled with obligated funds and no pay raises for state employees will make it difficult for UNC to implement its five-year strategic plan. Coming at the issue from a student perspective, I couldn’t help but think about the possibility of tuition increases, so it was really interesting to hear staff raise different questions about potential layoffs and possible tax cuts, shared services among campuses in the UNC system, and the authority of the NC Office of State Personnel.

What was particularly interesting about this meeting was that President Ross and Chancellor Thorp had to field questions about state budget decisions that they seemed to disagree with and that could negatively affect staff or the overall university. Employees asked about a variety of hot-button issues including the current national perspective on the value of higher education, gender-neutral housing, the concealed carry bill, and sexual harassment and assault. During this discussion, I became more aware of the difficulty of supporting and answering to so many constituents. Both Chancellor Thorp and President Ross did an excellent job of making clear the importance of UNC staff to the university’s functioning as well as the importance they personally place on staff issues and concerns. A podcast of the meeting will be up on the Employee Forum’s website later this week, and highlights from the meeting are available here. Check it out!

For my purposes, listening to staff discuss their needs is putting me in the frame of mind for conducting focus groups and considering potential CWC programming for next year. I’m looking forward to the learning experience of planning, recruiting, and moderating focus groups as well as hearing more about UNC staff needs and perspectives in the coming weeks!

CWC Alternative Spring Break Trip!

Please join the Carolina Women’s Center for an Alternative Spring Break trip!  We are going to pack up and head to eastern NC to work with local domestic violence, sexual assault, and child serving organizations in March.  The cost for the trip is $60, and the trip will start on the morning of March 9th, with students returning to campus the morning of March 17th.  Participants will need to cover the cost of some incidentals, such as meals on the road.  The CWC will cover the cost of travel, shelter, and most meals during the week.

Please contact Shelley Gist ( with any questions.  Applications due by 5pm on January 18, 2013.

Application link:

Now Accepting Nominations for University Awards for the Advancement of Women!

On behalf of the Offices of the Chancellor and the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, the Carolina Women’s Center is pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2013 University Awards for the Advancement of Women.  This award recognizes contributions to the advancement of women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Each year, three individuals–one faculty member, one staff member, and one undergraduate/graduate student/postdoctoral scholar–may be selected to receive the award. The faculty and staff recipients each receive

$5000 and the undergraduate/graduate student/ postdoctoral scholar recipient receives $2500.  Awardees are honored in a ceremony during the Carolina Women’s Center’s annual Gender Week Celebration in March.

Please submit nominations for women and men who have contributed in one or more of the following ways:

  • Elevated the status of women on campus in sustainable ways;
  • Helped to improve campus policies affecting women;
  • Promoted and advanced the recruitment, retention, and upward mobility of women;
  • Participated in and assisted in the establishment of professional development opportunities for women; and/or
  • Participated in and assisted in the establishment of academic mentoring for women.

**To submit a nomination, please use the online form at:

All faculty and staff nominees must be permanent employees.   No self-nominations or posthumous nominations will be accepted.  Carolina Women’s Center administrators and staff are not eligible for nomination.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, January 11, 2013, at 5:00 p.m.

Previous award winners are:

(2012) Sherryl Kleinman, Beverly Pearson (Yuhasz), Alison Grady

(2011) Lillie Searles, Bob Pleasants, Caroline Fish

(2010) Laurie McNeil, Melinda Manning, Parastoo Hashemi

(2009) Etta Pisano, Aimee Krans, Annie Clark

(2008) Kay Lund, Cookie Newsom, Emily Joy Rothchild

(2007) Barbara Harris, Annette Madden, Emily Dunn,

(2006) Jan Boxill, Terri Houston, Matt Ezzell

Please contact Christi Hurt, Interim Director of the Carolina Women’s Center, via email ( or by phone (843-5620) if you have questions about the awards or nomination process.

UNC-CH Human Trafficking Awareness Week

To increase awareness on the hidden, yet prominent, epidemic of human trafficking, the Carolina Women’s Center, Carolina Against Slavery and Trafficking, and UNC’s chapter of the International Justice Mission are dedicating a week in April (9th-12th) towards educating the student body and local community about this global travesty. Listed below are the events, times, and locations:

  • Monday, April 9th: “Visualizing Human Trafficking” 10am-2pm. There will be a large, visual chain winding throughout the Quad representing the constraint of freedom these victims encounter daily. Representatives from differing organizations (CWC, CAST, and IJM) will have information on global human trafficking, current efforts to combat this social injustice, ways to become and advocate, etc. to yield a more educated and aware population on the topic of human trafficking.
  •  Tuesday, April 10th: Screening of “Stella’s Story” 7pm-8pm. Nelson Mandela Auditorium; UNC Global Edu Center. Join us as we sponsor a narrative documentary about young women in the country of Moldova who grew up as orphans at risk of becoming human trafficking victims. Made and produced by Amanda Newton, a senior at UNC Chapel Hill.
  • Wednesday, April 11th: “Human Trafficking 101 Teach-in” 3pm-4:30pm. Anne Queen Lounge in the Campus Y, UNC’s campus. Come join us as we dedicate time to educate ourselves and others on what the term “human trafficking” means, its domestic and international prevalence, current efforts to eradicate it, and how you can become and advocate. Educational presentation from 3pm-4pm with a 30 min Q&A session on issues of human trafficking with panel of local experts from 4pm-4:30pm.
  • Thursday, April 12th: “Just Music” 9:30pm-11:30pm.  Mrs. D’s House at 206 Cameron Avenue, Chapel Hill, NC. Join us for a concert with local musicians as we fund-raise for the International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression worldwide. Admission is free (although donations are encouraged), and a delicious array of donated food and drink from local vendors will be offered.

If you have any questions regarding the details of these events, please do not hesitate to contact Stephen Bishop at or Chelsea Banister at We hope you’ll consider attending and assist us in combatting this societal injustice.

As a male anti-human trafficking assistant under the Carolina Women’s Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I am constantly approached by fellow peers who ask why I chose to align myself with an organization that has no personal relation to myself or my subsequent identities. Why human trafficking? Why focus on gender equity? Why focus on topics that are “not your issue?” Why, why, why…

To preface, here’s some brief trafficking statistics:

  • An estimated 2.5-27 million enslaved victims persist worldwide.
  • Victims are recruited from 127 countries and exploited in 137.
  • Human trafficking is the fastest growing lucrative industry in our global society, accruing billions of dollars annually.
  • Approximately 15,000-17,000 victims are trafficked into the United States each year, which is not accounting for those individuals trafficked within domestic borders.
  • For every 800 people trafficked, only 1 perpetrator was convicted.
  • 52%-58% of trafficking perpetrators are men.
  • Though women and children are the main targets for victimization, an exponential increase (often overlooked) in trafficking of men has been seen.

All of a sudden, those silly little “why” questions became far easier to answer.

With males being the dominate perpetrators of human trafficking travesties, as well as an increase in boy and male victims seen both domestically and across international cultures, the role of men in human trafficking mitigation efforts is clearly shown. However, our (men’s) veil of ignorance rendered from a lack of understanding and knowledge assures male complacency. Moreover, the lack of male involvement yields countless issues that further exacerbate this global epidemic, which is counterintuitive towards the end goal of complete eradication.

The Renaissance Male Project released a report on 10 Things Men & Boys Can Do to Stop Human Trafficking, which divulges into our glamorization of pimp culture, the increasing popularity of strip clubs and pornography, misogyny, sexism, the “harmless” and “victimless” effects of prostitution, and more. The efforts to abolish modern day slavery, analogous to other social justice initiatives/movements, rely heavily upon a diverse group of identities, including those that may not directly relate to the cause. The promotion of freedom, prosperity, social equity, and basic human rights is not a gender issue, but rather a human issue.

Stephen Bishop

CWC Anti-Human Trafficking Assistant


*Statistics found from the following sites/organizations: CAST-LA, The Polaris Project, and the UNODC Trafficking in Persons report.

LGBTQ Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking, or the use of coercion, fraud, or deception to force individuals into the commercial sex industry, has remained a global epidemic within both domestic and international borders. Predators utilize the vulnerability of their victims, many times preying upon homeless youth, individuals of low socioeconomic status, emotionally unstable or damaged adolescents, etc. This susceptibility, and subsequently the damaging societal views of particular identities, exacerbates this travesty, notably within the LGBTQ community.

The American Center for Progress conservatively estimates the number of homeless gay and transgendered youth within the United States, ranging from 320,000-400,000 annually. Moreover, this report signifies the disproportioned vulnerability of this demographic rendered from intolerant guardians, unstable friend/family relationships, and a lack of societal acceptance and understanding surrounding the topics of homosexuality and gender nonconformity. These damaging ideals lessen the feeling of self-worth within the psyches of LGBTQ individuals, making them easy targets for sex trafficking and other forms of deception/coercion. It is all too common for us, the United States, to believe the fallacy that “human trafficking is not a domestic issue,” which provides an unfortunate justification for complacency within our society.

From an international view, the Arab Gulf serves as a prime example of how certain policies within a geographic region can further complicate sex trafficking mitigation efforts. Members of the gay and bisexual male population in Kenya are being lured into sex rings within the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Many are deceived into this trade by false notions of job opportunities, seen favorable by Kenyans due to an exponential increase in unemployment rates. Many countries in the Arab Gulf are completely devoid of anti-trafficking initiatives and also continue to criminalize homosexuality. These crucial factors allow this systematic market to persist, while also providing little means of escape from this trade.

The aforementioned examples of both domestic and international systematic complications signify how LGBTQ individuals are prone to trafficking victimization, punctuating the need for a holistic intervention to decrease the prevalence of global sex trafficking.  A push towards progressive societal views pertaining to LGBTQ populations, policies that elicit acceptance and support for all identities, stark law enforcement efforts to eradicate this epidemic, and increased support for programs that aid victims of this deplorable “market” are a few of the many needed parameters within the anti-trafficking movement. In light of Ally week here at UNC, we can do our part, whether small or large, to diminish this corruption brought forth from social injustices by becoming an ally to the LGBTQ community.


This post was written to honor the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Ally Week 2012 sponsored by the LGBTQ Center.


Stephen Bishop

Junior; Public Policy

CWC Anti-Human Trafficking Assistant


Speak Out: Efforts against sexual assault at UNC

By Alison Grady

As we begrudgingly return to campus after fall break – perhaps one filled with visits with family and deep fried Krispy Kreme burgers – we return knowing that we have just two months left of fall semester.  This, presumably, will mean lots of studying for exams, lots of time spent with friends before winter break and, hopefully, two months of safety for everyone here at UNC.  As we saw at Project Dinah’s Speak Out event on Wednesday, October 12, unfortunately, this last part is often not the case for many of our fellow students.

At the event, we heard members of Project Dinah, Men@Carolina and UNITAS read anonymous stories of UNC students’ experiences with interpersonal violence that had been posted to the blog,  Some of these stories were reflections of abuse that had occurred years prior, some were about abusive relationships that they had dealt with while at Carolina, others about assaults by so-called friends, and one included words of hope to survivors, letting them know that things will get better.  While listening to these incredible stories, I looked around at my friends, acquaintances, and strangers; many sat crying, others comforted crying friends, and others seemed almost shocked – how could these attacks happen at UNC, they seemed to wonder.

How does sexual violence continue to happen with minimal discussion surrounding it in most circles at UNC?  Why are there still people who claim that they do not know anyone who is a survivor of interpersonal violence?  Earlier this year, The Daily Tar Heel reported that the number of reported assault cases had nearly tripled in 2010 compared to 2009, rising from 6 to 17.  While this news may seem frightening, those who work in sexual violence prevention know that the vast majority of sexual assault cases are never reported, so it is likely that the total number of assaults at UNC did not rise; instead, more people may have reported that year. Sadly, as one of those people who lives in the world of sexual violence prevention, I feel as if I personally could name 17 people who were assaulted in 2010, and many of them never reported their attacks.  The total number of assaults, then, is most likely significantly higher than the 17 that were reported.

My hope is that, through events like Speak Out, people will become more aware of the prevalence of interpersonal violence as well as the effects that it can have on victims and survivors.  Through an increase in education, perhaps survivors will see in these people someone that they can trust to talk to about their own experiences.  When people recognize just how huge a problem sexual violence is, then — through their increased education surrounding the topic and recognizing that they have friends who are survivors — it becomes difficult not to join the efforts to eradicate sexual violence from our university – and our community, state, nation, and finally, our world.

I encourage everyone to become HAVEN and One Act trained.  You will learn an incredible amount through the Haven training about what sexual violence is and how to be an ally to a survivor of interpersonal violence.  Through One Act, you will learn how to be an active bystander and prevent interpersonal violence from occurring in the first place.  With more and more Haven allies and more and more members of the UNC community who are both able to recognize dangerous situations and willing to act, perhaps soon we will be proud of being part of a university that is safe for everyone.

More coverage of Relationship Violence Awareness Month events to come!

Alison Grady is a senior peace, war & defense major with minors in philosophy, politics & economics and women’s studies. She is a blogger for the Carolina Women’s Center.

Mathematics, politics, and equity

Rochelle Gutierrez © 2011 by María DeGuzmán

Who would expect a talk on teaching mathematics to invoke Gloria Anzaldúa, Michel Foucault and Judith Butler?  Not me!  But that is what I was fortunate to experience at a talk given by Rochelle Gutiérrez on Monday, October 3, 2011.

The talk, entitled Cultivando Nepantler@s: Rethinking the Knowledge Needed to Teach Mathematics, dealt with the ways math is conceptualized and taught and how our limited understandings of math perpetuate inequality and discrimination.  Gutiérrez, instead, talked of teaching math as a subversive activity, of challenging the status quo and creating an environment of equity and inclusivity where all students can be visible and supported.

Gutiérrez problematized some very basic societal assumptions – we see math as something done in the head, something that only deals with symbols, rather than recognizing it as a social activity.  We are immersed in cultural understandings that being able to “do” math equates to a higher degree of intelligence and that those of us who “aren’t good at” math are inferior somehow.  We believe that if you use symbols, that’s math.  If you use your body, that’s not.  And yet, Gutiérrez points out, making baskets involves pattern recognition, symmetry, measurement – all mathematical concepts.  Why is that activity, as just one example, excluded from conventional knowledge about mathematics?  Who gets to police the language around what counts as math and how “we” are going to count it?

Different kinds of knowledges are necessary to teach math:  content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, knowledge about students and their communities, and political knowledge.  Political knowledge, in particular, is made invisible.  Everything about teaching is political – from curricular decisions to classroom practices to the location and population of schools.  We must recognize this.  The question becomes:  whose politics are being accepted or followed?  Some of these tensions are being played out in current discussions in Wake County about which students are placed in Algebra 1 classes and which aren’t.  Test scores matter but, in addition, the “professional judgment” of teachers seems to be functioning in a racialized, gatekeeping way.

In some schools, Gutiérrez observed, a number of strategies are being implemented to engage marginalized youth in math.  These include developing professional learning communities, improving and enhancing mathematical knowledge in teachers, and practicing culturally competent/relevant pedagogies.  There is nothing inherently wrong with these efforts, Gutiérrez asserts, except that they are often enacted in unhelpful ways.  For example, when teachers say “I want to empower students,” on whose definitions of empowerment are they relying?  Too often what this means, Gutiérrez says, is teaching them how to succeed in the current system, a definition she wants to challenge.  And, I would add, I don’t think you can empower another person.  You can only help provide the tools and create an environment wherein they can empower themselves.

Other problems exist.  Most of the available research focuses on elementary schools, not secondary schools.  The ways in which we choose to measure and describe the achievement gap are socially constructed and impacted by the structural racism in our society and the ways it operates.  True equity is more than just access to a rigorous curriculum.  We must recognize that teaching is a negotiated process which includes not only teachers and students, but families, colleagues, administrators and (I would add) legislators.

Gutiérrez demonstrates a profound recognition that one cannot be successful by rejecting the system.  We have to teach students how to play the game AND how to change the game, she says.  We can’t ignore the societal and systematic expectations that are currently constructed and reinforced, but we can work to change them.  And – even beyond the politics of social justice and equity – Gutiérrez insists – we have to rediscover how to play through mathematics.

Should you be a teacher of math or a teacher of students?  Yes.


Note:  This lecture was part of the UNC Latina/o Cultures Speakers Series.