July 14, 2024

Tea with Feminists occurs every year around the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade trial (1973) and allows faculty and students the opportunity to learn about and discuss feminism and current issues of inequality both in Springfield and on Wittenberg’s campus.

Nancy McHugh, the current chair of the Philosophy department, led most the discussion, which centered around issues people could focus on and work to change. McHugh invited Cynthia Richards, a professor of English who is currently running for 2020 State Representative for District 79 – the voting district that includes Wittenberg’s campus – to talk about her campaign.

“I’m running to do good,” Richards said simply. Richards wants to see change in the ways that marginalized communities are being treated both at the national level and the state level and hopes to start that change in Ohio.

“A lot of the policy that affects us on a day-to-day basis is made at the state level,” Richards said. McHugh echoed this statement, saying that any efforts made towards equality is “bottom-up,” not “top-down,” and if any change is to be seen at the national level, it must start locally.

The group transitioned into discussing current issues within Springfield’s community like food insecurity. A Kroger in Southern Springfield will be closing its doors in March, leaving the next closest grocery store in that area at least 4 miles away. That distance isn’t an option for people who don’t have access to transportation.

“A huge percentage of people who live on the south side [of Springfield] don’t have any transportation,” Abbey Perkins (’20) said. Some residents can’t even afford bus fare and are forced to walk to a grocery store. But now that the only grocery store within walking distance will be closed, there are no other options.

The group drafted a list of ways that they could raise awareness of the Kroger’s closing, including writing to the Springfield News-Sun and the Cincinnati Enquirer and contacting other community groups to stage a protest outside the remaining store locations in Springfield. Increasing visibility of the issue could lead to a reversal of the closing or a new, low-cost grocery store in its place.

Finally, the group focused on the on-going conversations about Wittenberg’s faculty cuts. Students frequently cite the relationships they have with their professors as their favorite thing about Witt. Establishing that as a strength of Wittenberg faculty and, in McHugh’s words, “creating visibility so that people see you for what you do,” can boost morale and remind our administration of the value of Wittenberg’s professors.

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