By Anya Quesnel
Every class I have taken in the FGS program has been an important stepping stone in my personal development. FGS classes push me academically and emotionally and are spaces in which I learn language to articulate who I am and what I care about. The FGS program has in many ways anchored me during my time at Colorado College. The critical lenses I have been exposed to help me to express the tensions I feel and see here and, ideally, move through this campus more actively, creatively and aware of the vastly different ways we experience CC depending on who we are.
I am very grateful that my first class at CC (then called FYE) was Dr. Heidi R. Lewis’ Introduction to Feminist and Gender Studies. Under Dr. Lewis’ instruction, I understood the importance of good citational practices and understanding the responsibilities of being a newcomer to any academic field. For me, this course informed everything that came after it, both in and outside of the classroom. I felt a similar consequential shift in block one of this semester after taking Critical Disability Studies with Dr. Nadia Guessous. In as least fluffy terms I can use to describe what FGS classes have done for me, they have made it such that I cannot unsee the world.
Given how strongly I feel about the impact of the FGS department during my time at this college, I was curious about the experiences of my peers. I connected with a few FGS-affiliated students at different stages in their CC careers to find out more about the impact these classes have had on their experiences on campus and beyond:
Sage Reynolds, Senior FGS major, Content Creator at the Monthly Rag
Sage says that FGS encourages her not to take her peers, professors and other members of the CC community for granted.
“FGS has helped me move through the world with a propensity to ask questions, to critique my own knowledge and to curate a curiosity about the instruction of this knowledge. FGS has helped me exist at CC in a thoughtful way- a way in which I think about how I am positioned in this institution and outside of it.”
Lena Fleischer, Junior, Computer Science Major
Although Lena has not yet taken a FGS class, she feels the impact of the department on wider campus culture.
“FGS feels present to me on this campus. The language of ‘I hear you’, ‘I see you’ and people who are really thoughtful about listening to people’s experiences… I think there’s a big theme of listening at CC and I feel like this is a skill that’s nourished by the FGS department. Sometimes I feel like FemGem gets a bad rep because people think that to be critical all the time is a negative thing. Some of the smartest people at this school are FemGen people!”
Pardes Lyons-Warren, Senior, FGS Major
Pardes believes that FGS classes have influenced every sphere of their life at CC and find themselves more critical and attuned to the ways power structures co-create campus culture. They also find that what they have learnt in FGS classes particularly anchors them in other classes.
“I feel empowered to identify and call out instances of inequity and oppression in many CC spaces. FGS classes have given me compassion in academics and helped me to find ways to decolonize my own areas of intellect. FGS has shaped everything from my writing style to what I consider “appropriate” to turn in for an essay to how to treat my brain and how to have beautiful discussions.”
Daniel De Koning, Junior, Film Major
Daniel took LGBTQ Social Movements in the United States with Dr. Rushaan Kumar. As part of the class he worked on the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ Oral History Project.
“I learned a lot about the processes of interviewing and archiving, especially the importance of treating interviewees as people, not as subjects we need to complete a project. I appreciated working together with my classmate Zivia, who became a good friend. I was excited to see the final project in its finished state, it felt good to know that we participated in the making of such an important archive.”
Saluja Siwakoti, Alum, FGS Minor
Saluja graduated from CC in 2021. She reflects that the transition into post college life has been a challenge, especially coming from intentionally caring spaces like FGS.
“This is the everyday work: to be cognizant of the stakes of my words, my actions, my communities, my priorities have in the world and I think FGS gave me the tools to identify those things. I feel like the classes I’ve taken with Dr. Guessous, Dr. Kumar and Dr. Lewis stick with me every day. I wish I could run back to CC and sit in on a class with intentional people and professors. We don’t just learn about feminist epistomologies- FGS challenges us to live them everyday. We come to realize that our voices, our intuition, our vulnerability matter and our care matter and that we are doing labour by coming together and thinking in these ways. FGS helps me imagine the world I want to live in. My next step is to really trust the education FGS provided me with and go with what my heart says: to prioritize my communities and the things that bring me joy.”
It goes without saying that I encourage anyone reading this who has not yet taken an FGS to do so – not so that you can say you took an FGS class and feel feministy but so that you give yourself an opportunity to be deeply moved and be left with the question what now?