Students Present at Third Biennial Seneca Falls Dialogues
Seven undergraduate students led sessions at the Third Biennial Seneca Falls Dialogues, which took place October 19-21 in Seneca Falls, New York, known as the birthplace of women’s rights. The event brought students, faculty, and activists together from Upstate New York and beyond to share ideas and insights related to the conference theme, “Politics of Leadership and Civil Rights.”
Melissa Guck, Lindsey Kocher, Elizabeth Vetter, and Alexa Zeller, students from Dr. Jenna Rossi’s Feminist Theory course, organized a panel titled, “Performing Womanifesta: Emerging Third Wave Feminist Voices.” During the panel, each student performed her own “Womanifesta” about the importance of living by feminist principles, and engaged the audience in a conversation about the continuing need for feminism in today’s world.
Samantha Davis, Marissa Petta, and Gelsey Randazzo, students from Dr. Deborah Uman’s Studies in Postcolonialism course, presented, “Female Adolescents: Exposure Overload Conflicts with Self Identity.” The session contrasted the damaging images of young women in current advertising with an empowering representation of female adolescence in Michelle Cliff’s novel, Abeng. The students’ work led to a dialogue about how to teach young people to accept and celebrate themselves rather than internalize the common practice of holding women up to impossible ideals that focus only on appearance and sex appeal.
The event also included a ceremonial signing and rededication of the Declaration of Sentiments, which was originally signed in 1848 at the first women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls. In addition, Dr. Nancy Hewitt of Rutgers University served as the keynote speaker and addressed race and religion in the U.S. women’s suffrage movement, and a culminating dialogue was led by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists and authors, Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, and Dorothy Zellner.
The Seneca Falls Dialogues and the SNCC presentations, which also included talks at the University of Rochester and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, were created through a collaborative effort by representatives from St. John Fisher College, the College of Brockport, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the University of Rochester, the American Association of University Women, and the Women’s Institute of Leadership and Learning. Fisher’s Dr. Arlette Miller Smith and Dr. Deborah Uman served as members of the College Alliance, which organized the academic components of the conference.
Students Melissa Guck, Alexa Zellner, Elizabeth Vetter, Lindsay Kocher, Gelsey Randazzo, Marissa Petta, and Samantha Davis in the National Women's Hall of Fame.