By: Sara Douglass – News Editor
Arlene Scala, with two other colleagues walked alongside a sea of pink as nearly 1 million men and women took to Washington to march for the rights of women.
“Defunding Planned Parenthood, working to take away abortion rights, this is all very negative,” Scala said. “What is positive is the incredible resistance movement I mean there is so much resistance.”
Scala, department chair of the Women and Gender Studies program at William Paterson, is not alone in her fight for women’s rights. Many other female professors at the university also feel that the new federal government could potentially be disastrous for the progression of women liberties.
Dr. Jean Levitan, a Public Health professor, emphasizes that no progress can be made if a woman’s right to make personal decisions about her life and family are controlled by politicians. She also stressed that even though women are now a large part of the workforce, which was a huge step in the right direction, their ability to control their bodies is in jeopardy.
“People have to stay vigilant, get involved, push back and speak up,” Levitan said. “Too many forget how things were in the past with bigotry, violence and intolerance.”
Some women in the science department at WPU feel that President Trump and his administration not only pose a threat to the progression of women but there is also concern on how it will affect Dr. Nicole Davi’s entire field of work. As an Environmental Science professor who researches climate change, Davi worries there may be a change in how much federal funding will still be granted for her studies.
“Our new president and a lot of the people he is surrounding himself with are not science literate,” Davi said. “President Trump has said publicly that he thinks climate change is a hoax and that’s a huge concern for my entire community.”
With missteps in both his Black History Month and Holocaust Remembrance Day statements, all eyes and ears will be on President Trump when he delivers his Women’s History Month statement for March.
Though these female professors have different personal and professional backgrounds they all can agree on the importance of Women’s History Month. According to Levitan because most of what is taught in history classes in the past was the accomplishments of white men, Women’s History Month is a time to widen people’s exposure to the contributions of women.
“Until women’s history is fully integrated into the curriculum we need a women’s history month no question,” Scala said. “There as been so much that goes under the radar because it hasn’t been deemed important enough…we have to have Women’s History Month, it draws attention to what women are doing.”
At William Paterson, female professors have a diversity of accomplishments. Dr. Levitan received the Distinguished Service Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality in recognition of her outstanding service to the organization. With her study of tree rings Dr. Davi is on the forefront of climate change research. And these are the accomplishments for which they hope to be remembered for.
“What I want most for students to know about what I do is just how incredibly creative science is,” Davi said. “Science is a remarkably creative field and I don’t think people realize that. So I think that is one of my biggest pushes, really pushing how the scientific community works and how creative science can be.”
Throughout March, the university will celebrate Women’s History Month with lectures and performances that fit with this year’s theme, Writing Women Back Into History. A complete schedule of events can be found online.