Established in 2020, the Gender Inclusivity and Feminism Team (GIFT) at William Jewell College is a student-led organization that aims to promote a safe and positive culture pertaining to gender identity and related issues.
The organization focuses its efforts and funds into providing physical resources as well as a space for serious discussion about equality. Although GIFT specifies itself to be an organization inspired by traditional feminism, they aspire to expand this definition to support all gender identities through their events and advocacy.
“Jewell prides itself in being an inclusive and diverse campus; however, that does not mean that the community is without issues. It is for this reason that it is so important to have organizations like GIFT on campus. We want to help students feel comfortable with discussing and pursuing their gender identities, but first, we have to offer them a safe, [and] even encouraging, space for that,” junior Alexis Harper, who serves as GIFT’s Events Chair, said.
As one of the organization’s largest tasks, the leadership works with students, staff and faculty to distribute free menstrual products in all the campus’ restrooms and emergency condoms in all the dorms. New this year, GIFT is hoping to partner with the Student Senate and Student Health Center to ensure that a consistent supply of products are available to the community, rather than relying on donations alone.
GIFT also hosts regular events — snacks included — to discuss topics like gender identity portrayal in the media and family dynamics surrounding traditional gender roles. As an example, GIFT holds a Halloween movie night every year in late-October, raffling out sex-positive “Sweet & Spicy” gift bags following the post-movie discussion.
“The Halloween movie night is one of our most popular discussion events, especially because of the items we give out,” Harper said. “The importance of this event is to not only create interest in GIFT and discuss these important issues, but to also destigmatize taboo ideas that are associated with sex and intimacy especially in the case of non-heteronormative relations. Of course, we keep everything in the raffle anonymous to protect the winners’ privacy; [however,] we hope that giving students the opportunity to win sex toys will pave the way for future sex-positive conversations, perhaps with a partner or trusted friend.”
GIFT — like other student organizations and clubs — experienced a low-point during the 2021-22 academic year as the COVID-19 pandemic peaked. However, with the ability to host more social and promotional events, the organization is seeing a steady increase in student interest this year, according to Harper. For students looking to participate in GIFT’s events or services, there are no official membership requirements or commitments to follow.
The organization’s cabinet consists of five equally important roles with Azadeh Rafizadeh, professor of mathematics, designated as their faculty sponsor. This year, the following students are serving at GIFT’s leadership:
- junior Alexis Harper as Events Chair;
- sophomore Kaelyn Cox as Project Management Chair;
- junior Jolia Bernal as Engagement Chair;
- first-year Koda Payton as Communications Chair; and
- junior Liz Payton as Finance Chair.
Students can get involved in GIFT by reaching out to the clubs leadership by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, following @wjc.gift on Instagram, or by attending any of the upcoming events.