So Long and Farewell!

By Maggie Pool

Since the beginning of this academic year, I have been an office assistant at UMKC’s Women’s Center. My time here has proven not only my aptitude for learning more about my passions, such as feminism, but also how much power I have in spreading that knowledge to the people around me.

One of my responsibilities was writing a weekly blog post for the Women’s Center website.

“What do I need to write about?” I asked.

“Anything about women.”

As broad as that prompt was, it allowed me to freely explore realms about women in fields that I am already deeply ingrained in, like film, for example. I became fascinated over the gender inequalities surrounding Oscar nominations, especially after this year featured an explosive amount of incredible female directors and female-driven film projects. I explored the history of fallen Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for two felony sex crimes. I dove into film industry history with Dorothy Arzner, who was the only woman director to successfully transition into the era of talkies from silent cinema. All of these topics filled me with greater wonder and love for the world of cinema, while also expanding my knowledge of women’s influence in cinema.

Alongside graduate assistant Indra Mursid, I had the honor of creating a brand new Women’s Center program. Indra and I teamed up to start a Menstrual Products Drive to raise awareness about the expenses of menstrual products, the hardships women go through during periods, the Pink Tax, and how many schools are trying to make products more accessible. We held the drives in UMKC’s residence halls, and we were pleasantly surprised to see students excited about our program by donating products for others to use. The ultimate goal was to have products available in every women’s and gender-neutral bathroom on campus. Raising awareness about menstrual cycles makes the subject less taboo. That will hopefully make it more possible in the future for women to have better access to menstrual products and better support systems during menstrual cycles.

My time working at the Women’s Center has been one of my favorite working experiences yet. I’ve told the staff they can’t get rid of me that easily! I will be back for events and to study in the amazing supportive environment that is the Women’s Center. I thank everyone so much for the fun and wonderful experience that this has been! So long and farewell!

Indra’s Experience at the Women’s Center

By Indrasari Mursid

For the past 4 ½ months, I have been the graduate assistant at the Center and throughout that time it has shown me what I’m capable of and what my limits were. Additionally, how little I knew about women (beyond my knowledge of being a Women’s and Gender Studies minor as an undergraduate) in industries like theater and film, sport communication, and business thanks to my incredible co-workers and the events we put on throughout the fall semester.

Throughout the semester, I took photographs at various events, managed social media accounts, assisted in creating programs, created event fliers, and managed the Healing Arts program throughout campus. Managing Healing Arts with workshops provided by A Window Between Worlds proved more to me how impactful art-making for leisure was as far as coping with daily stressors of being a college student amongst other identities. As an artist, I found release in leisurely art-making and that’s how I found the field of Art Therapy in high school.

As an Art Therapy major during my undergraduate career, I had seen how transformative intentional art-making was in a supervised art therapy session related to individual experiences of their domestic life, interpersonal and romantic relationships, trauma, family, sexuality and sex, cultural and religious identities, etc. Facilitating Healing Arts workshops at Hospital Hill, replenishing Stepping Stones for Healing Arts corners around campus, and managing I Can, We Can and Shrink Your Stress gave me an inadvertent, small taste of what it might be like for me as an aspiring art therapist to facilitate an art therapy session in groups or individually. These workshops, events, and corners have affirmed why I want to be an art therapist in the future.

Not only did my experience as a graduate assistant affirm my goal of becoming an art therapist after I obtain my licensed professional counselor (LPC) license, but it affirmed my love for advocating for others especially with my involvement in Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, I Can, We Can, “I Am Enough” photo campaign, Women Who Lead, and reaching out to organizations that also advocate for others like League of Women Voters, MOCSA, Barrier Babes, UMKC’s Counseling Services, UMKC LGBTQIA+ Affairs, and Violence Prevention and Response Program. I have already decided as a licensed professional counselor, I would like to work for a non-profit organization or at least for a company that truly advocates for their patients and employees.

Unfortunately,  I am leaving at the end of the fall semester to pursue other educational opportunities, but I am so grateful for what I have learned, the friendships I made during the process, and the hard skills that will be an asset to me in my future counseling career and in other jobs up until my counseling career. Working at the Women’s Center was truly a learning experience of what I am capable of and what I still have to improve on, but it has cemented my love for counseling, art, and advocating for human rights. I hope to combine all of those interests into my counseling practice.

Reflecting on Shrink Your Stress

By Indrasari Mursid

On Wednesday, December 4 the Women’s Center partnered with A Window between Worlds and Office of Student Involvement to host Shrink Your Stress the week before Finals Week. The Women’s Center has done this in the past and it’s always been a hit, and I think my experience and involvement in planning the event just proved that. I submitted the program proposal, budget, created the event flier, and assisted in taking photographs at the event and directed students on how to do the activity. This Shrink Your Stress event, we had students crate shrink art thus the title of the program and either trace and decorate their own mandalas, trace their own image, or color in an already traced image (i.e. flower, leaf, and rainbow). This event reminded me of the events I would program as an Art Therapy Club Public Relations officer during my undergraduate career. During our biggest event, Late Night Breakfast during Stress Relief Week (also the week before Finals), the Art Therapy Club would distribute crayons and coloring sheets with mandalas, festive-holiday designs, and other imagery with the choice of having hot cocoa. So, it was cool to a different interpretation of a similar event to help relieve stress the week before Finals Week.

I felt like the event was successful as many students came to the tables to create shrink art and many students created multiple pieces once they had finished one – I was impressed with how artistic and creative all of the other students were. Many of them, after they created their first piece, went ahead and decorated another using images from their phone that they could trace. One student did a Pikachu, another did a Naruto character, and one did a floral wreath with her initials. We always had at least ten students at the tables working on their shrink art pieces.  As a student, it can be hard to set time for oneself.  I have struggled with this during my graduate studies and acknowledging when enough is just too much can be hard for me to gauge. I don’t usually understand the repercussions of my work load until after it passes and I feel the effects of burnout creep onto me. I think Shrink Your Stress,  petting adorable animals, and decorating stuffed kangaroos during Stress Less Fest are great reminders to be mindful and evaluate one’s mental well-being in a time where that is often neglected. I want to point out though that there are many definitions of self-care. One student may set a goal to set three meals a day, whereas another’s goal may be to decompress with one episode of their favorite television show every night before they go to bed. There is no wrong way to do self-care.

 

Walk A Mile®Through Our Graduate Assistant’s Lens

By Indra Mursid

The first time I heard about Walk a Mile in Her Shoes© I was a senior student representative during my undergraduate studies. Student Senate was co-sponsoring the march with our own sexual assault and Title IX program so we weren’t the ones who were making the executive decisions on how to advertise or how to incorporate community outreach into the march. When I first found out about the Women’s Center involvement in hosting UMKC’s annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event – I was thrilled to be one of a handful of people making executive decisions on how to incorporate community resources within the march. Before Walk a Mile©, I assisted in curating the roaster of community organizations for the Resource Fair. Some organizations there were from previous Resource Fairs like MOSCA, League of Women Voters, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and some were new-and-upcoming organizations that I knew about in the Kansas City area through social media like Barrier Babes. To communicate with organizations about Walk a Mile ©, its cause, and how these organizations could help empower others was incredibly powerful to me because we were exposing survivors and advocates to communal resources they might not have even thought to look into. During the march, I got to witness my efforts through another lens – literally.

During the march, I was also in charge of taking photographs from various vantage points in many stages of the event from the Resource Fair tabling to men crossing the finish line. It was amazing to see students, faculty, Greek Letter societies, and UMKC sports teams unabashedly put on high heels and march in awareness of rape, sexual assault, and gender based violence. I could tell through my interactions with many men how passionate they were about the subject, especially in the speeches Dr. Martin, Justice Horn, and Humberto Gonzalez gave. They spoke about how they advocate for the women closest to them and women who cannot speak out due to the fear of retaliation or lack of support to do so. I want to emphasize how much we need men to use their voice as a vehicle for change, especially in women’s issues. Overall, the experience of planning, executing, and sprinting around the route with the participants taking photos was incredible. I hope to be involved in some way during my time at UMKC and beyond.

Meet Our New Graduate Assistant: Indra Mursid

By Indra Mursid

Hey! Hi! Hello! My name is Indra Mursid.

This is my first year as a graduate assistant, UMKC Roo, and graduate student!  I am studying Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Mental Health. I am interested in multicultural psychology and LGBT+ affirming therapy with hopes of becoming a licensed professional counselor and, eventually, a licensed art therapist who works abroad with refugees, the LGBT+ community, and other marginalized populations. I received my bachelor’s degree in Art at Avila University in 2018 specializing in Art Therapy with minors in Women’s and Gender Studies and History. Since declaring my Women’s and Gender Studies minor my junior year at Avila University, I have advocated for human rights (women, LGBT+ community, immigrants) all over the globe from Germany to India. I hope to expand my leadership, programming, and advocacy skills with the Women’s Center. I am very excited to be a part of such an incredible organization in Kansas City and at UMKC!

On the side, I am an independent contributor and artist for digital publications and zines. When I am not studying, creating art, or in the Women’s Center I am usually traveling, at a coffee shop, or at home binge watching New Girl for the thousandth time.