New organization spreads awareness of student inequalities

By DAMITA GLAUDE

A new organization, YESbody!, founded by co-presidents Carlynn Sharpe and Sierra Kihlstadius, promises to educate and break down barriers at Kennesaw State University concerning the overlap of inequalities faced by marginalized groups such as gender, sexuality and race.

Sharpe said, “As a sociology major and gender studies minor and someone who’s really interested in race, I always think about the intersectionality of those issues.”

YESbody! is an organization dedicated to educating and spreading awareness of diversity while discussing how issues from various groups can blend together. It is a collaborative group, working with the Gender and Women’s Studies program and inviting other student organizations on campus, such as the Kennesaw Pride Alliance and the Non-Normative Anti-Assimilationist organization, to participate in events.

An example of a flier put out by the Yesbody! organization. Photo by Damita Glaude.
An example of a flier put out by the YESbody! organization. Photo by Damita Glaude.

The name is inspired by the current “Yes Means Yes” initiative, which institutes consistent sexual consent for students instead of consent given while intoxicated or in the absence of resistance. The name is also a play on words promoting body positivity for people of all races, gender, background and sexuality.

The organization has partnered with the Gender and Women’s Studies department for future events and programs.

GWST program co-founder and coordinator, Dr. Stacy Keltner, says that they plan to collaborate with YESbody! on various projects such as the Georgia Domestic Violence Resource Project.

A panel discussing healthy masculinity is also in the works. Academic functions featuring speakers, panels and conferences concerning gender issues are also planned.

Keltner became involved with the organization after contacting students who seemed interested in reviving the GWST student organization, which had not been an active group since 2011. She came across the YESbody! organization that was getting started and found that the group’s motivations were similar to that of GWST.

For the organization, Keltner said, “I want to see the group model a sophisticated balance between academic rigor and thoughtfulness, on the one hand, and responsible community service and engagement on the other.”

As for YESbody!’s set up, there are five committees: gender, race, sexuality, disabilities/ableism and various sex issues such as sexual violence and body positivity. There is a committee organizer for each group with active members who meet, talk about current issues and share ideas for potential future events. All of the committees then come together, share ideas and take a vote on whether the organization will host an occasion.

As an inclusive organization, other student groups are welcome to attend these events.

There are no dues to pay and anyone can join, as well as participate in meetings.

Members vote upon positions such as co-president, secretary, treasurer and committee organizers.

There is an exclusionary clause stating that people who make others feel uncomfortable or have views that are unrepresentative of the organizations goals overall can be voted out by the majority. This clause is put in for the safety of the members.

The first meeting was held in October at the Legacy Gazebo in the center of KSU’s campus.  YESbody! plans to have at least five meetings this semester with various events planned throughout.

If you are interested or have any questions about the group, you can email ksuyesbody.official@gmail.com.

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