Womens party raises $1,481 for Planned Parenthood

Just a few days after the one year anniversary of the election of President Donald Trump and the corresponding Women’s March, Colby students gathered to fundraise for Planned Parenthood. Kylie Walters ’18, Eliza Adams ’18, Gretchen O’Brien ’18, and Lexie Lyons ’18 hosted a party titled The Women’s Party/Planned Parenthood/This is Pussy Grabbing Back in their Facebook event. Walters said “I think the event was a convergence of a lot of goals, one being to do something different in the party scene at Colby, another being to celebrate women, and another being to raise awareness and funds for Planned Parenthood at a time when it is especially jeopardized.”

Hosts Gretchen O’Brien ’18, Lexie Lyons ’18, Eliza Adams ’18, and Kylie Walters ’18 in front of their homemade wall of famous women.

The invitees, spanning all genders and Colby class years, were invited to enjoy a night of “planned parenthood, philanthropic and self indulgent, broadly-defined women’s lifestyle-oriented party.” Attendees were asked to give a donation to Planned Parenthood or to donate menstrual products for the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter. They raised $1,481, outdoing their initial goals of $750 dollars.

Over $200 worth of pads and tampons were also donated. Neither charity was chosen lightly; the residents believe that providing clean and safe menstrual products to the homeless community is impactful and integral work. Adams and Walters both agree that in the current political climate, Planned Parenthood is an important charity to support. Walters said “I’m overwhelmed by a steep amount of rage and sadness when I think about the many closures of Planned Parenthood clinics this year and the pervasive control of women’s bodies by literally vile men in power.”

Although a majority of attendees were women, several men donated to the fundraiser and many made an appearance at the party throughout the night. Peter Barkey-Bircann ’18, remarked “I thought it was an exciting event, especially with being able to contribute to raising over $1,000 for an important cause. I enjoyed learning about how different people aspired to embrace and improve on gender equality by writing their own goals on the wall. I think that more social events at Colby should have activism incorporated into them.”

Many attendees dressed in female-empowerment clothing, including shirts with references to “nevertheless she persisted,” “the Future is Female,” Planned Parenthood t-shirts, and feminist icons like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Some attendees wore shirts they created themselves. The playlist for the party was also in theme; all songs were either by female artists or were positive songs about women. Hosts O’Brien, Lyons, Adams and Walters also offered desserts for guests.

One of the most popular aspects of the evening was the decor; the hosts spent over four hours decorating the space. Adrienne Carmack ’18, the campus representative for Planned Parenthood, supplied Planned Parenthood stickers and sunglasses. Other decorations included cartoons, infographics, balloons, a banner where guests could write how they were going to work towards gender equality, and pink draping around the entrance to the apartment. The banner had the words “I pledge to ________ to support all women,” and Adams remarked that “everyone wrote really thoughtful responses. It’s apparent that, as a woman, I still have a lot to do and learn in order to truly support everyone who identifies as a woman.”

The most significant, and most popular decoration was a large mural made up of sixty iconic women, including Hillary Clinton, Judith Butler, a prominent feminist academic, Alicia Garza, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, and Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person to be elected and seated in a state legislature. More familiar women were also included: Walters, O’Brien, Adams and Lyons’ mothers and sisters made the wall, and several friends submitted women in their family for the wall. A member of the Colby community, Professor Nikky Singh, the Crawford Family Professor of Religion, was also included.

Fundraising, activism and social justice is not unique on Colby’s campus, but it is very rare to see these themes cross over into weekend social life, especially in Colby’s nightlife. However, with the success of this event and the recent focus of the apartment selection process on civic engagement, this could change. Adams added, “It was refreshing to have an event on a Friday night with an entirely different focus. There was still plenty of dancing and celebrating, but I hope (and think) people got hyped off of the empowering theme rather than chugging beer.”

The organizers largely view the event as a success, and not just in financial terms. Adams told the Echo “I felt empowered in helping to create a women-dominated and women-celebrating space on a Friday night.” Walters also pointed out that they learned a lot during the planning process about women’s rights, Planned Parenthood, and healthcare for women across Maine.

This is not the last event or fundraiser of its kind this year; Adams and Walters both agree that this is something they would be interested in doing again, and next time involving other student clubs and organizations. Walters also said “I would especially love to see the event occur at other schools. I think small liberal arts schools are especially conducive to this kind of philanthropic party.”

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