Continuing and furthering the legacy

SDEC creates Women’s History Month photo series, hopes to expand initiatives in the future

Through this school year, the Student Diversity and Equality Council (SDEC) has created several photo series during certain cultural months to give a platform for minority groups on Christopher Newport’s campus.

They have produced a photo series for Hispanic Heritage Month as well as Black History Month. This past month, SDEC continued the ongoing photo series for Women’s History Month in March. 

Following in the footsteps of the two previous photo series, the Women’s History Month photo series featured a total of six students and faculty members.

Each individual was photographed with a white board where they wrote quotes that explained how being a women shapes their identity or what Women’s History Month means to them.

The idea to create photo series for different cultural months was created by Gaby Olivera, the current president of SDEC.

She was inspired by several different photo initiatives that happened on campus, such as the Dear World campaign that happened at CNU last year.

“Just the powerfulness of looking at a photo was epic,” Olivera said.

Although the initiatives at CNU played a role, Olivera came up with the idea from an experience she at an internship.

Her internship created a photos series that featured a person with a quote floating above them. 

Olivera expanded off of this idea and changed it up a little in order to make it a bit different. The first photo series SDEC sponsored was created to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month in September of 2018.

“CNU as a whole and [SDEC] needed to highlight and support a lot of these different [minority] groups during these cultural months especially,” Olivera said. “We’re doing a lot better, but I wanted to give a same time of energy to Hispanic Heritage Month and Women’s History Month.”

The goal of creating all of these different photo series this year is that the incoming e-board of SDEC can build off of this year’s photo series in the future.

“For next year, it’s, ‘Okay, we did photos but what else can we add to celebrate this group of people,’ whether it’s an event, a speaker or another type of art concept we can showcase. Let’s build onto it,” Olivera said. 

For example, SDEC is already trying to book Hispanic photographer Jose Galvez to come and present his work for a day in September to kick off the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in addition to creating a second Hispanic Heritage Month photo series. 

Their main goal for next year is to find ways to get the entire campus involved in each photo series instead of just the respective minority group.

This year, SDEC is currently planning on doing a photo series for Asian Pacific Heritage Month and LGBT Pride Month.

Although no plans are solidified yet, they hope to still feature a photo series for both months.

The problem is that both occur over summer when students are not on campus and they want to find a way to display them when everyone is back.

Olivera said the hardest part of arranging these photo series is coordinating everything.

She explained that telling people about it and getting people excited about the photo projects is difficult.

“It was a lot of networking with student organizations,” Olivera said.

For example, in order to plan the Black History Month photo series, SDEC connected with the Black Student Union to help spread the word and get participants.

“The whole point of these series is to highlight students that typically are not seen, to give them a platform in some artistic way to showcase how they identify and how they see themselves,” Olivera said.

This idea of getting participants who are not traditionally seen played into how SDEC selected the participants for the Women’s History Month photo series.

“For the Women’s History Month, we tried to get a versatile amount of women. These are the type of women who are not typical. They’re not as seen, they’re not as well known,” Olivera said.

“This isn’t the type of initiative or project to just showcase we have minorities here at CNU. It’s about giving a platform to everyone to say, ‘I’m proud.’ Why not take a photo of yourself and shout out in a different way what you’re proud about? I think it’s very important to tell people that they exist.”

~Emma Dixon, News Editor~


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