OAWE offers NIU women support through meeting

By Debbie Kosinski

Are you a woman who feels discriminated against?

The Organization for Academic Women’s Equality (OAWE) wants you to know that you’re not alone, and support is only a meeting away.

From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. today in the law school lobby of Swen Parson Hall, OAWE will be sponsoring a get-together to unite women of all aspects of campus life who share the goals of striving to become more than they are today.

OAWE holds receptions annually and are holding two this year. The second reception is expected to be sometime around Nov. 19.

This year, OAWE is introducing a new project called the OAWE Mentoring Network. The network attempts to create a more systematic approach to educate women on campus about what OAWE consists of and when receptions take place.

According to OAWE Co-Chair Carole Minor, the organization now has a supply of names of women with similar interests who can work together on projects to benefit the university. OAWE can personally invite these prospective members to help ensure the women can attend the introductory meetings.

“There are many women that just don’t know there are people out there with similar interests that feel the same way they do,” Minor said.

The network also will provide support and information for those with problems and questions about how OAWE personnel is selected.

OAWE is not an official committee. Rather, it is an independent organization that does not function on any NIU money, said OAWE Co-Chair Lorraine Schmall. “Therefore,” Schmall said, “we can do what we want.”

Because the organization is free from university interference, meetings have no predetermined agenda. The women have the freedom to discuss a wide range of social, political, educational and professional issues that affect the modern woman.

In the past, OAWE has focused on such issues as finding day care for working mothers and ways of getting grants for women continuing their education.

OAWE was founded in 1971 and was the first women’s organization on campus. It has been the inspiration for every women’s organization since, both co-chairs proudly noted.

Loreata Dye has been a member of OAWE since 1975. Dye describes the organization as a place for women to share experiences. “We try to have input on what happens to women on campus,” she said.

OAWE has other notable accomplishments. A steering committee, consisting of a representative from every college and every office, meets regularly to speak on the academic aspects on campus. OAWE also occasionally writes to President La Tourette suggesting ideas that might be good for the campus.

OAWE understands that women need more than support in an academic sense, but also helps them to survive experiences unique to women. It exists not only to let the administration of NIU know how many talented and qualified women there are on campus, but it strives to help all discriminated people, Schmall said.

All faculty, staff, administration and students are welcome tonight to find out what OAWE has to offer and how to join. Schmall said OAWE wants to encourage mutual support in everyday life.

“It’s damaging to always be in competition rather than in cooperation,” she said.