KICKASS ACTIVISTS: Meet Topaz + Sarah with CU’s INVST Community Leadership Program

by Sarah Rimmel

This past semester I had a chance to sit down with CU Boulder students Topaz Hooper and Sarah Rush to talk about activism, CU’s INVST program, and life in general. Topaz is a Geography major and dance minor. Sarah is a Political Science major. They both are getting certificates in Certificate in the Study and Practice of Leadership with CU’s INVST Community Leadership Program. Topaz recalls her first time meeting Sarah: “We’re besties. I saw Sarah and said that was going to be my best friend. At the beginning of the INVST cohort, you choose someone as a thought partner, or someone who has your back through the program, and I fought for Sarah. Now we’re roommates too and live in the Lighthouse Collective Co-Op.”

Image

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SELF-CARE ACTIVITY?

Topaz: Dancing and writing poetry

Sarah: Reading keeps my mind sharp and playing piano relaxes me

WHERE DO YOU CALL HOME? WHAT DOES THIS PLACE MEAN TO YOU?

Topaz: I was raised in Denver, which encompasses the meaning of diversity to me. There are many demographics represented and it has helped me to be exposed to and accept a variety of people.

Sarah: Cypress, Texas. My family is there. I feel free and at one with nature – we have horses and I live on a ranch. It’s special. Riding horses taught me bravery from a young age.

WHAT SPACES DO YOU FIND COMMUNITY AT ON CAMPUS?

Topaz: African Student Association, Black Student Alliance, and the CU Environmental Center, which teaches: “sustainability is sexy.”

Sarah: We started a running club – it is a student running club where we run in rain, sleet, and snow, everyday but Friday. Also, we live in Lighthouse Collective Co-Op – it’s a good community where we host couch surfers and host events. We have free music concerts in a variety of genres: folk punk, acoustic guitar, a DJ playing mushroom jazz. To find out about our next events email: the-lighthouse-collective@googlegroups.com

WHAT IS AN ITEM OF CLOTHING THAT MAKES YOU FEEL POWERFUL/FABULOUS WHEN YOU WEAR IT?

Topaz: Colorfully patterned scarves make me feel beautiful and are so much fun

Sarah: I have a jacket with shoulder pads from my mom – it is a “big shoulder” badass look

WHAT DOES ACTIVISM MEAN TO YOU?

Topaz: Not just see and complain but to engage-community building, creating a force that can be reckoned with, finding something inside you to care about that is bigger than self

Sarah: The word “active” in it is telling- you have to be active, to try and fail and keep doing it. How INVST has shaped my activism? Well, it has basically CREATED my activism. Before INVST, I honestly didn’t really have activism on my agenda, but summer trip with INVST gave me such a wide range of knowledge of and experience with social and environmental justice issues across the southwest and even in our own backyard that I had never been exposed to before.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT INVST?

Topaz: Travel. Uprooting myself and going to a new place to join together for a cause. We ask what can we do together for you instead of what can I do. It’s about sustainability and being uncomfortable. One month of traveling with 13 students.

Sarah: I like the opportunity to find a community, gain an internship, and build connections. Just saying the name INVST connects you to a community and helps you to get an internship. One of the most powerful experiences on our trip was when we had the opportunity to live with a traditional  family on the Diné (Navajo) Reservation. Hearing their story of how their family is resisting relocation and how oil and gas companies want to unearth their home because of the coal embedded in their land really opened my eyes to all of the work that needs to be done to achieve equality in this world we live in. The fact that the family was also so willing to share their sacred cultural traditions with us, such as the sweat lodge experience, really made my own cultural awareness of myself as a woman of color come alive. I now want to expand my cultural awareness to include many other kinds of people.

About INVST: The INVST Community Leadership Program is a 2-year training program for students who are interested in social justice & environmental sustainability. The small-group experience combines academics, community service and leadership skills training. For more information: http://communitystudies.colorado.edu/about-invst/about-invst

Advertisements

Title IX celebrates 40 years

-By Morgan Aguilar, student staff

Female athletes have several reasons to celebrate this year, especially at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX. The act states that “No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

The title’s main purpose was to end discrimination in all extra curricular activities in education. For women, it had the most impact on athletics.

Continue reading

Just A Reminder…

As Halloween is this week, keep in mind any messages your costume might be sending. Here’s the Ohio University student group Students Teaching About Racism in Society‘s message on that topic, an update of their “Culture, not a Costume” campaign from last year:

We’re A Culture Not A Costume

You can see more of S*T*A*R*S campaign here.

Additionally, the Women’s Resource Center is holding a conversation on the topic of Halloween costumes today, October 29th:

Ponchos, Pocahontas, and Push-Up Bras: Why Finding The Perfect Halloween Costume Is Tricky

What were you thinking of dressing up as for Halloween? Don’t know yet? No problem! Join us at the Women and Gender Studies Cottage to share Halloween treats over a discussion about the sexualization and cultural appropriation of Halloween costumes in retail and on our campus. Before you leave we’ll brainstorm a list of sweet Halloween costumes so you’ll be set for Wednesday!

Speakers: Seema Sohi, Renee Roberts, and Sophia Surage
Time: 3:00pm-4:30pm
Location: Women and Gender Studies Cottage

Does CU Boulder Support Rape Culture?

-by Sophia Surage, student staff

–originally published in the CU Gender Justice League Newsletter

Most CU students have probably witnessed people either selling or wearing CU/CSU rival T-shirts on campus and at football games. Some of the CU/CSU rivalry shirts are troubling, due to the fact that they put forth extremely explicit, violent, genderized components of sportsmanship and dominance.

Some shirts simply display the CU icon and state “Fuck CSU” or CSU shirts that say “I ram CSU girls.” Others go so far as depicting the buffalo mascot sexually dominating CSU’s ram mascot, “ram this.” The most disturbing ”Fuck CSU” shirt displays a silhouette image of a women on her hands and knees with a buffalo mounting her from behind and a caption saying “Ralphie did your mom.” By displaying an animal sexually dominating a woman in order to send a message of sports rivalry, the t-shirt establishes sex as a dominating force, which is inherently intertwined with rape.

Continue reading