September 19, 2019 | 47° F

Students launch campaign for women’s empowerment

Photo by Edwin Gano |

The Catholic Center, located on Somerset Street, is home to the Women’s Group of the Catholic Student Association. The group is organizing their second RU Beautiful campaign this week, a weeklong campaign in which they put up Post-it notes around campus with positive messages and hand out gift bags with desserts and encouraging letters.

The Women’s Group of the Catholic Student Association of Rutgers focused on Post-it noting the campus last year and putting up fliers featuring encouraging messages like “you’re loved” and “you’re desired.”

The group has launched the second year of their RU Beautiful campaign, a weeklong program designed to encourage women and remind them of their worth.  

Ericka Lemire, mission leader at the Catholic Center, where CSA holds its meetings, said she and other leaders in the Women’s Group started the campaign last year and worked together to make it a weeklong event.

In an effort to encourage women and build up their confidence, CSA hosts a series of different events for each day of the week, she said.

“What they look like, what grade point averages they have — none of that matters,” she said. “We just want them to know that they are wanted and that we value them for who they are.”

On Tuesday and Thursday, Lemire said the group set up tables to hand out gift bags with cookies, chocolate, a pencil, a letter and a specialized pin to women of the University.

“We designed these pins that have words on them that describe what a woman is: ‘heard,’ ‘treasured,’ ‘exquisite,’ ‘celebrated,’” she said.

This year, they plan to set up tables on the College Avenue campus and Douglass campus. The tables on Douglass campus plan to be set up inside the Douglass Campus Center.

“Even if it’s just one woman on campus … women can be encouraged not to change [themselves] or to not think that their worth or value is only skin deep,” Lemire said. “It’s important to me that they know they are so much more than that and are worthy of love and respect.”

Anna Palka, a Rutgers Business School junior, said the Women’s Group is a great atmosphere for girls in college.

“What we’re trying to do is empower every woman, no matter where they come from,” she said. “We’re hoping each woman on campus will somehow see some part of this campaign and recognize that it is important to support women in this way.”

Palka, chairwoman of the Spiritual Committee at the Catholic Center, said she got this leadership position after becoming actively involved with events at the Catholic Student Association.

“With the snow day on Monday, I had some of the motivational sticky notes around my dorm,” she said. “Some girls would see what I put up there, read them and just smile. It really touched me to know that they took whatever I wrote down to heart.”

Palka said it is really inspiring for her to know even the smallest words have an impact.

Lisa Shatynski, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, said they dedicated the week to letting the women of Rutgers know they are beautiful.  

“Women are put down a lot in society, whether it’s pressure for the way they look, how good their grades are [or] what they wear,” said Shatynski, a member of the Women’s Group. “With all these things piling up on them, just to hear somebody say ‘you’re beautiful’ means a lot.”

Shatynski said she would be at Thursday’s Women’s Group meeting, where she expects to hear discussion about how God has created them to be who they are and that everybody has a purpose.

She said she looks forward to participating in the RU Beautiful campaign in the upcoming year.

“We are going to talk about how culture handles beauty and what beauty really is. We want to encourage women to come out to that event and be a part of a community that really loves and cares for all of them,” she said.

By Connie Capone

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