Gender Fair explores topics of gender, sexuality


Jackie Phillips/NW

GENDER IN GOVERNMENT – ASNMU Vice President, Gwendolyn Feamster, presents the history of gender in government during the annual Gender Fair. The fair was hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Studies program, and offered a selection of different organizations that gave poster presentations at their booths.

Jackie Phillips

The Gender and Sexuality Studies program held the annual Gender Fair on Friday, March 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fair was held in the Northern Center in the Founders Room and Ballroom I. 

Both community and student organizations gathered in the Northern Center for the Gender Fair. Organizations were set up at tables for their booths that were placed around the ballroom. The groups set up at the booths featured a poster of information to be presented that related to gender studies. 

Poster studies that were presented covered a variety of topics. UP Rainbow Pride featured a poster that outlined their group and some of the events that they hold. Associated Students of NMU (ASNMU) covered the history of gender in different areas of government in their poster presentation. 

The poster projects typically feature topics that many people do not often hear about, Gender Fair Co-coordinator Sarah Huiber said. 

“It can be really eye-opening,” Huiber said. “It’s a great way to get some informal education about these kinds of things [in] an environment that’s more welcoming. There’s not as much pressure as if you were in a classroom.”

Assistant Professor of Sociology Heather Mooney gave a presentation in the Founders Room of the Northern Center titled “A Call for Institutional Courage.” The presentation focused on sexual assault on college campuses. Mooney also covered what institutions can do to prevent sexual assault and advocated for communities to be more proactive. 

The Gender Fair creates a comfortable and safe space for conversation around gender and sexuality studies and how that interacts with our community and campus, Gender Fair co-coordinator Emma Van Orsdel said. 

“It shows that there is a safe space here,” Van Orsdel said. “High school students, middle school students and community members in general see that there is a safe space for them and that they are accepted.”

Organization for the fair begins in the fall semester, with the coordinators beginning their communication with organizations in December. The coordinators must secure a facility for the fair, this year moving the fair to the Northern Center, as well as creating posters and putting them up around campus.

Many organizations that held booths at the Gender Fair offered free things such as candy, pins and stickers. Many of the stickers featured throughout the fair had to do with LGBTQ+ inclusivity. The fair also featured a raffle that attendees could enter that featured prizes from local businesses. 

With some advice and help from Director of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Amy Hamilton, the coordinators were able to plan the event however they saw fit. 

The fair is planned by the coordinators in a way that helps the most people and brings the community together, Van Orsdel said. 

“It’s just overall a really good opportunity to create conversations in a world that is trying hard to oppress those communities and write it into law that we can’t have these conversations,” Van Orsdel said. “Making our voices heard in these respects is really important, going to events like these help us gain that perspective that we need.”