Alfred University News

Alphadelphian, 2023-24

To be good leaders, we must recognize when tradition inhibits growth; then, we must diversify our lives by empathizing with others, and having the courage to walk our own paths.

About the editors, Emilia Smith and Noémie Bannerot     2

Letter from the director, Sandra Singer        3

2023-2024's Women and Gender’s Roundtables, Noémie Bannerot    6

Tribute to Nex Benedict, Noémie Bannerot     10

Faculty Portraits, Faculty    13

Loose Ends: A Modern Retelling of Beowulf, Monica Nowik     15

Southern Finger Lakes Pride, Eliott Houghtelling     17

W&G Minors of 2024, Minors      18

Book Spotlight, Emilia Smith    19

Riley Lecture, Noémie Bannerot    21

Menstrual Product Petition, Noémie Bannerot     23

Karen Porter’s retirement, Susan Morehouse     25

Abigail Allen Award, Sandra Singer and Noémie Bannerot     27

Focus on, Mallory Szymanski     29

About The Editors

Noémie Bannerot obtained her Master’s degree from Oxford and Sorbonne Université in Paris in 2023. She’s been teaching French in Alfred for a year (2023-2024) and hopes to become a translator. Noémie loves embroidering, growing plants, watching many movies, reading lots of books, her cat Vénus, rock climbing, playing video games, doing yoga and everything about languages and linguistics.

Noémie has recently signed a contract to publish her translation of the American book This Bridge Called My Back and she’s super happy about it.

Emilia Smith is from north of Chicago. She transferred to Alfred University in the fall of 2020 to pursue a double major in physics and art. Glass art is her calling, and she’s fascinated by the underworking of the physical world. She feels entirely comfortable and empowered to be an artist and an intellect here at Alfred. In her free time, you can find Emilia hiking the Pine Hill Trail and finding a nice tree to sit in and read. After graduation, Emilia will be creating glass at a studio on the island of Murano, which is rich in glassmaking history and knowledge.


This edition of the Alphadelphian exists only because two women, Noémie Bannerot, a visiting French teaching assistant, and Emilia D. Smith, who is graduating this semester with a BFA in Art and Design as well as a BA in Physics, have been willing to use their remarkable minds and skills to create this loving gift to all of us who are a part of Women’s and Gender Studies at Alfred University. I am so grateful to Noémie and Emilia for keeping the Alphadelphian alive for just a bit longer. The future of the Alphadelphian is uncertain. My hope is that we can find a way to keep this publication both full of life and alive. If you are reading this and have some ideas, please let me know.

I would also like to bring to your attention a major and most welcome improvement to the WGST program. Janet McClain is now serving as the  the Programs Secretary for the College of Liberals Arts and Sciences. In this capacity, she is offering administrative support to not only the WGST program but also to Africana Studies, Global Studies, and Social Justice Studies. Her support has played a critical role in making this program as strong and successful as it is. Her suggestions and guidance will play a key role in helping our program to grow in the future.

Last year, I shared the directorship of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program with two colleagues, Karen Porter, Professor of Sociology, and Susan Morehouse, Professor of English, both of whom I have known since I first arrived at Alfred in 1994. At the end of this year, Karen Porter will be retiring. I am hoping that even after retiring, she will still be willing to contribute in some capacity to the WGST Program as she has all these years.

Karen is the one who started the tradition of the WGST roundtables. She served as the director of the program from 1995 – 1999. She was the recipient of the program’s highest honor, the Abigail Allen Award, in 2000. In addition to serving as the Chair of the Division of Social Sciences, Karen has also been the Director of the Criminal Justice Studies Program and a Member of the Rural Justice Institute. It has been fun and an honor to work with Karen all these years. Her institutional knowledge and unwavering dedication to the WGST program will be greatly missed.

As for Susan Morehouse, she better not be going anywhere...just saying!

In addition to the support I have received from Karen and Susan, who have remained members of the WGST Executive Committee, I would like to thank the other Executive Committee members for their hard work and service this year: Sarah Blood (SoAD), Anne Cornell (University Advancement), Meredith Field (Sociology), Abby Hurley (Judson Leadership Center), Laurie Lounsberry Meehan (University Archives), Diana Maguire (College of Business), Melissa Ryan (English), Mallory Szymanski (History), and our two student representatives, Abigail Crawford and Valerie Mintz.

My goal as both a member of the WGST program and its director has been to listen and provide opportunities for voices in our community to be heard. I am personally very concerned about the fate of the brave women and girls of Afghanistan and Iran. In the whirlwinds of unrest across the world right now, I hope we do not lose sight of their struggles. For some inspiration, I would like to recommend two recent publications:

Pashtana Durrani and Tamara Bralo, Last to Eat, Last to Learn: My Life in Afghanistan Fighting to Educate Women (NY: Citadel Press, 2024) and the latest graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, (the author of Persepolis, which was first published in 2000) called Women, Life, Freedom (NY/Oakland: Seven Stories Press, 2024). 

All these years, I have also been grateful to the Riley sisters, Pamela, Patricia and Melissa, for making it possible for us to bring so many inspirational speakers to Alfred. The annual Riley Lecture this year was no exception. Meghann P. Galloway, AU’10, JD, and Ph.D., provided us with an example of how carefully chosen words or how we frame a story can change how we and others look at and judge people and situations. Our perceptions can make all the difference in the policies that affect women and might save lives. This year has been yet another punishing one for women’s reproductive health and rights, but I appreciated that we were able to have another WGST roundtable dedicated to providing the women of our community with the most up-to-date information about essential reproductive healthcare services in this area. That roundtable was only possible because of the dedication of staff in AU’s Wellness Center and the Allegany County Department of Health.

I hope all of us will do our part to preserve essential healthcare services for all women and to restore safe and legal access to abortion throughout this country. Abortion should always be a healthcare decision between a pregnant person and that person’s healthcare provider.

To a world we can pass on to the next generation with hope and pride,

— Sandra Singer

Roundtables, 2023-24

Noora Ossa, an exchange student from Finland, gave a lecture on October 6th entitled “Finland, Land of Equality?”. This rather open-ended topic and question allowed her to address issues ranging from women's rights in Finland today, to those of mothers and couples, to the percentage of women in the workforce and the wage gap between men and women.

In Finland, both fathers and mothers can take parental leave (rather than maternity leave) for seven months after the birth of their child. Not taking it is even discouraged, as the parent receives a full allowance for the duration of the leave. In the case of a child with a single parent, the latter will be able to take advantage of 320 days of leave, i.e. 10 months and two weeks, to care for the child and, if they are lucky enough, to rest.

Two weeks later, it was Elliot Houghtelling’s turn, an Alfred university alumni who graduated last spring, to present their work on the current situation of trans people in the United States. Under the title "Where We Are: Discussing Anti-Transgender Vitriol in the United States” Elliot examined the political and social situation of trans people in the USA in recent years, which, as you can imagine, is nothing to be cheerful about. Republicans continue their assault on the queer community, targeting chiefly trans women as a threat to everyone and in particular to our children, who in conservatives’ fantasy are the target of LGBTQ+ propaganda and are being “groomed”. This strategy, in addition to recalling old homophobic clichés equating queerness with pedophilia, enables the conservatives to rally lost and worried parents to their cause and swell their ranks. Mistrust of the queer community goes as far as banning drag shows, which are a fairly harmless form of entertainment.

This backlash has made it harder now than it used to be to get hormones or puberty blockers, teachers can be kicked out for respecting their students' chosen names or pronouns etc. etc. It is also still a controversial subject to let people use the toilets of their choice, or to let trans women compete in sporting events. Last year, anti-trans legislation was proposed in 39 states, including 112 measures focusing on medical care restriction and 82 pertaining to education-related issues, according to the website Track Trans Legislation.

Toxic rhetoric and political actions can have for LGBTQ tragic consequences Americans, especially transgender youth for whom suicide rates are high [on this subject, see our article on page 10 concerning the death of Nex Benedict].

Such measures and the current political atmosphere suggest that Trump, having spoken out before against inclusive education and trans rights, remains Americans’ preferred candidate for the next election. On December 1st, our wonderful wellness center's staff, Pam Jones, Bridgit Buono and Allsun Ozyesil, joined by Robert Matasich (Public Health Educator for the Allegany County Department of Health) honored us by joining forces to talk to us about a subject of great importance to all university students: sexual health. The topic: "Student Reproductive Healthcare: Your AU Resources" helped us learn about the various sexually transmitted diseases and their treatment, as well as their prevention, and how to detect the first signs of breast or testicular cancer. All Alfred University students can visit the wellness center to obtain contraception, take a pregnancy test or request a morning-after pill. The state of New York allows abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but not all states are so lucky, as we know well from May 2021 and the overturn of Roe vs Wade.

On March 22nd, the bookend lounge in Herrick was buzzing with engaged minds as panelists Zulaikha Yusuff, Nivaye Reid, Ruth Bosquet, Kayden Morris, Kaneea Burnett, and Vikki Jackson, delved into the representation of women in the media. Their group, “Sister Circle”, dissected prevalent stereotypes, the impact of social media, and the challenges women, particularly women of color, face in the entertainment industry.

The discussion started by exploring social media’s influence on shaping perceptions of women, highlighting that women fitting the beauty standards are more prone to being showcased. The example of Sidney Sweeney was brought up, as the actress recently gained immense popularity, but it is mainly her body and proportions that are being discussed. Her treatment is reminiscent of Britney Spears in the 2000s, whom media outlets ridiculed. Attention was particularly drawn to the pervasive trope of the “black friend” and the stereotypes associated with it, including the portrayal of Latino women characterized by clichés like sassiness and hypersexualization. Black women are often unfairly labeled as aggressive or assertive, facing heightened scrutiny and expectations compared to their counterparts. The women aptly pointed out the insidious nature of these stereotypes, which frequently pigeonhole women into one-dimensional roles, perpetuating harmful narratives.

As for white women, they are typically either cast as the dumb blonde or the “not-like-other-girls” brunette. “Sister Circle” provided a platform for dialogue on the representation of women in media systemic biases that continue to marginalize women, particularly those from minority communities.

Tribute to Nex Benedict

Born in 2008 in Texas, Nex Benedict was a young 16 year old student, attending Owasso High School, who died on February 8th, 2024 after a fight in a school bathroom.

In 2022, Oklahoma made headlines as the first state in the United States to ban non-binary gender markers on birth certificates. Ryan Walters, the Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction, implemented policies that include preventing students from changing the designation of their gender or sex in school records. This discriminatory legislation was accompanied by a slew of oppressive policies, including restrictions on gender-affirming healthcare for minors and the enforcement of bathroom usage based on assigned sex at birth. Such measures evidently fostered an environment of exclusion and marginalization.

With this backdrop of institutionalized discrimination, Nex Benedict's narrative unfolded, starting tragically with a history of being bullied since the start of the 2023 school year by a group of girls. Sue Benedict, Nex's grandmother, received a distressing call from Owasso High School on February 7th.

Arriving to find Nex with bruises and scratches, Sue was informed of a two-week suspension imposed on Nex, further exacerbating the already distressing situation. Concerned for Nex's well-being, Sue took them to a nearby hospital and called the district police.   During an interview conducted by the police, an officer asked Nex why they had not reported the past conduct of the girls to the school, and Nex replied, “I didn't really see the point in it.” These words of despair clearly show the state of despondency Nex was in, resigning themself to saying nothing in the full knowledge that the higher authorities were against them.

A day later, on February 8th, Nex collapsed at home in the family living room, their eyes had rolled back, and they were struggling to breathe. They were then rushed to the hospital, but had stopped breathing by the time emergency medical technicians arrived, and were declared dead at the hospital that evening. The circumstances of Nex's death raise alarming questions about the school district's failure to address gender-based violence and provide a safe environment for all students.

Following the revelation of the cause of death by the coroner as being suicide, Oklahoma's LGBTQ+ suicide prevention line saw a 230 percent increase in calls, underscoring the pervasive impact of anti-trans hate in the United States today. As activist Ari Drennen poignantly noted, in a climate of hostility and intolerance, every trans suicide is a murder.

The Human Rights Campaign’s president, Kelley Robinson, described Benedict as being failed by their school and elected officials "who allowed a culture of bullying and harassment to grow unchecked". Nex's tragic fate served as a grim reminder of the harrowing realities faced by LGBTQ+ youth, as highlighted by statistics revealing the prevalence of suicidal ideation among this vulnerable demographic.

A student organizer of the walkout, who is nonbinary, told NBC News: "To me, it doesn't matter if Nex passed from a traumatic brain injury or if they passed from suicide. What matters is the fact that they died after getting bullied, and that is the story for so many other students. I've been close to ending it myself because of bullying. It's not new for so many students."

While people have been grieving and outraged, voices of bigotry and intolerance have persisted. “We are a religious state, and we are going to fight it to keep that filth out of the state of Oklahoma because we are a Christian state –we are a moral state,” Oklahoma Senator Tom Woods declared, as reported by the Tahlequah Daily Press. Exemplified by individuals like Woods, this kind of vitriolic rhetoric perpetuated harmful ideologies. However, in spite of the darkness, we can recognize that those who espouse hatred and prejudice are a vocal minority, outnumbered by voices of empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

If you or someone you know needs mental health resources and support, please call, text or chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Trevor Project also has a 24-hour crisis hotline for talk at 1-866-488-7386, text at 678-678 and computer chat at


Faculty Portraits


Elise Bouhet received a PhD in French Cultural Studies from the State University of New York at Albany. She specializes in contemporary French society and riots that take place in France as a result of police brutality. Professor Bouhet loves art, nature and animals. She lives in Corning with her wife, poet Sarah Giragosian. They have a black cat called Bébé Chat, a fish and two tortoises who always escape.

Dr. Diana Maguire is an Associate Professor of Management and the Leadership Minor Advisor at Alfred University. She teaches undergraduate courses in Leadership as well as Leadership courses in the College of Business’ MBA program. Diana lives in Allegany, NY with her husband and has two adult sons. Her son, Andrew, is a student at Alfred University. Her older son, Travis, works in investment banking in Manhattan.

Abby Hurley, Coordinator of the Judson Leadership Center graduated from AU in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and then again in 2019 with a Master of Science in Education in College Student Development. Since December 2021, Abby has overseen the Judson Leadership Center. The cornerstone program of the center is the Women’s Leadership Academy, for which Abby teaches two classes that fall within the WGST program.

This year, Danielle Gagne has been working with Helen Evans at Ardent Solutions in Wellsville to earn an “Age-Friendly University” designation for Alfred University, which would focus on creating programs or pathways that encourage students and older adults in the Alfred community to work, study, and learn together. She is also part of a grant to work with John Simmins from the Inamori School of Engineering and Ethar, Inc., to investigate cognitive variables related to the use of Augmented Reality for personnel training in a manufacturing setting. This summer, she’s excited to spend some time with family in New England, orchestrate adventure while playing Dungeons and Dragons, “prep” for her Fall honors class on Star Wars, turn dirt into food, knock a dozen or so books off her reading bucket list, sample the wines of the Finger Lakes, and enjoy enough outside activities to tire out her dog. 

Paul Butterfield is interested in topics involving both ethics and aesthetics, such as the question of how we should feel about art that is aesthetically pleasing but communicates offensive ideas. He is currently working on a book which will focus on controversial humor, and how much ethical leeway we should give to comedians to create comedy that upsets or offends.

Professor Meredith Field is a medical sociologist who studies issues of healthcare access and equity, especially as they relate to reproductive health. She joined the AU faculty in 2020 because she loves that AU cares deeply about its students. In addition to WGST 101/SJST 201, Meredith teaches courses about race, gender, social problems, and health. In fall 2024, she's debuting a new course - on Cults, Religions, and Fandom. Outside of AU, Meredith is an elected official in the Village of Alfred and she loves bowling with local leagues and with the Alfred Bowling Club, a student organization. She also advises United Alfred, AU's LGBTQIA+ student organization.



This year the Cohen Gallery showed I50LATION: A portfolio of 50 drawings by 50 women sculptors during COVID-19. The show was curated by AU’s Professor of Sculpture Coral Lambert and Sculptor Cynthia Handel when they found that they and many of their peers during the pandemic had turned to drawing. The portfolio represents an international collection of women sculptors from the USA and Europe. All of the women in the portfolio are over 50 years of age, whose highly collaborative practice was dramatically changed or stopped altogether when the pandemic hit. The exhibition is currently traveling to Germany where it will be on exhibition at ProjekTraum in Fredrickshafen. It will travel afterwards to Berlin for the International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art, where cast iron sculptures will be shown alongside their drawings.


Loose Ends: A Modern Retelling of Beowulf, Monica Nowik    

My senior English and Honors thesis, entitled Loose Ends, was a short film adaptation of the Old English poem Beowulf. Rather than attempt to recreate medieval mead halls on Alfred University’s campus, I wrote the story as a modernized retelling, allowing this choice, influenced by movies like Clueless and Ten Things I Hate About You, to shape the story. Acting on my friend Ash Julian’s brilliant suggestion, the thanes of the original poem became fraternity brothers embroiled in a highly social world of cancel culture, public shaming, and suppressed violence. In Beowulf, the titular hero saves and unites the tribes of the Geats and the Danes by slaying the man-munching monster Grendel, going on to hunt down Grendel’s vengeful mother and a dragon later in life. In my story, Brian, president of Upsilon Omicron Lambda, takes matters into his own hands when a mommy vlogger seeks revenge for the death of her son, an accidental manslaughter that mysteriously involved the fraternity.

The story centers on Greyson’s Mother (Grendel’s modernized mother) and Brian, exploring how both characters fail to see each other as humans across their binary playing fields. Self-righteousness, group mentality, and rites of passage drench the underlying themes of Beowulf. As I was writing the screenplay, I also began to notice that gender roles were surfacing in many of my conversations surrounding the project.

We’re meant to believe that Grendel’s mother is evil incarnate and that Beowulf is justified in bringing his army into her home to murder her—but if you change your perspective, it’s just as easy to see a group of men ganging up on one woman.

Greyson’s Mother, as a mommy vlogger, finds empowerment in sharing her experiences about motherhood online, even after her child passes away. Nameless as in the poem, defined only by her son, Greyson’s Mother is only able to see her identity as that of the mother. This striking clash of selfhood and role—the agency and importance of motherhood vs. its historically (and modern) constricting nature—affects the way Greyson’s Mother lives her life as well as the way society sees her. Brian and his “frat bros” react more vehemently, perhaps, to her attacks because of the threat she poses to them as an outspoken mother, which has oft been a criticism of mommy vloggers and bloggers (“You should love your kids and have no life outside your family, but God no, you shouldn’t talk about them all the damn time”).

Brian, though, also suffers from social restrictions.

As a fraternity brother and a male leader, he’s expected to use his social and physical capital to control others. When he takes it upon himself to stalk Greyson’s Mother, his failure would not merely have personal but group repercussions. His precious “reputation” he speaks of is at stake because of the narrow rules of his predetermined path. Fraternities are especially notorious for upholding patriarchal ideology within their own groups, sometimes (importantly, not always) using methods like hazing to set acceptable masculinity apart from unacceptable “weaker” traits. Brian’s need to be liked and respected by men and worshipped by women comes to a standstill when he meets Grendel’s Mother head-on.

This was a fun project to write and produce, but more fun was the many hours I spent talking about it with friends, family, the actors, the crew, and my professors. Hearing their perspectives on it and watching the actors develop rich and nuanced interpretations of the characters was what made all the pieces click. For both co-creators and audience, I hoped for an experience that would at the very least ask us to question our internal assumptions and biases about ourselves and the people around us.

Note on the film: Loose Ends: A Modern Retelling of Beowulf was filmed in or around Alfred with local and student cast and crew. It was screened for a general campus audience on November 3rd, 2023.


Southern Finger Lakes Pride


The mission of Southern Finger Lakes Pride (SoFLX) is to support the well-being of Southern Finger Lakes LGBTQIA+ youth and their loved ones by connecting them with affirming resources, advancing community acceptance through education, and providing opportunities for inclusive celebration.

Year-long, the organization facilitates support groups and hosts events throughout the Southern Finger Lakes to create spaces for queer community members to feel safe and empowered. Since 2019, SoFLX Pride has hosted a Pride Festival in Corning, NY. This year, the festival will be held on June 8th on Corning’s Market Street.

On May 30th, SoFLX pride will be hosting their annual fundraising event which is intended to raise funds for The Bloom PAQ, an overnight summer camp created for LGBTQIA+ teens, ages 13-18 in NY and PA. In the spirit of “Camp,” the fundraiser will be a 21+, one night only adult summer camp experience. Camp Fruit Fly will be a night of summer camp classics, food, drinks, drag, special performances, and dancing.

To learn more about SoFLX Pride and their programs, or to get involved please visit



Women’s and Gender Minors of 2024

Abby Crawford  is getting a BFA in studio art, with a focus in ceramic sculpture. She has two wonderful dogs, and her passions include hiking barefoot, reading, dinosaurs and general mayhem. After graduation, she hopes to become an automotive sculptor or something adjacent. Her life's dream is to own a gecko so she can put teeny hats on her (her dogs are not big fans of hats).

Valerie Mintz is a senior majoring in Sociology with a minor in Women’s and Gender studies. She is from Brooklyn, NY and likes to spend her free time shopping. After graduation, she will be working with children. She is the recipient of this year’s Abigail Allen Award for students.

Jaslynn Rosa is a senior with a major in Psychology and a minor in Women's and Gender Studies. She is part of the Women's Leadership Academy cohort 17 and works at Scholes Library on campus. Her graduation plans are to get an internship and take a gap year before going onto a social work graduate program. Her passion is reading fantasy/romance, and her favorite book currently is Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. She has a fish named Pickle, and works at Seabreeze Amusement Park in the guest services office. AU is one of her favorite places to be when she is not at home or work, and she has a lot of amazing friends here that she hopes will last forever.

Amber Weinar is an English Major with a WGST Minor. She loves the Buffalo Bills and dogs. Her favorite thing about Alfred is getting to work closely with underclassmen through various programs and watching them grow up and learn how to be college students. She is hoping to go into academic advising or something similar in higher education after undergrad. She has four favorite desserts which are: mochi, anything with peanut butter and chocolate, cheesecake, and tiramisu.



Book Spotlight — The Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa and Now, Newly Translated into French!

The lead editor and writer of this edition of the Alphadelphian, Noémie, has recently closed a publishing deal for her translation of the book This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color from English to French. I had the pleasure and honor of working and speaking with her about the experience of translating this book into her native language. Not only did she translate around 100 pages of creative, political writing for her thesis but she also wrote 100 more pages of commentary on her translation. The book will be published by a feminist, anti-capitalist publishing house in France called Cambourakis.

The anthology was first published in 1981, and through a compilation of visual art, poetry, personal essays, testimonials, and interviews depicting women of color feminism. The manifesto is sheds light on the experiences of women of color circa 1981, and ignited the third wave of feminism. According to Wikipedia, it is among the most cited books on feminist theory!

When talking to Noémie about how she chose this book, and what it was like to translate it from English to French, many topics came up that I had not considered. Her reason for choosing the book was that there is really no equivalent piece of Literature in French culture.

Due to a different racial history in the country, Noémie had to translate words from English that do not exist in French, such as white washing, white passing, and tokenism. She thus had to define them and come up with ways to explain these complicated and nuanced concepts in French.

Noémie’s critical analysis of her translation for her master’s thesis also provides the history and context in which the book was written, as well as explaining how it relates to socio-linguistics and psychology. One example we spoke about was the research she did on African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) which is primarily a spoken language, and thus said to be ‘untranslatable’ in writing.

In the past decade, the French language has added grammar and conjugation alternatives so that words can be ungendered, and not masculine by default either. Noémie assiduously applied these rules, despite their newness and the increased difficulty to translate. Since French is a Romance language, almost every single word - nouns, adjectives, and verbs - is gendered. Noémie dutifully wrote her entire thesis using new pronouns such as iel, for singular they. She felt like the radically feminist content of this book would benefit from using a more feminine language (or rather, less masculine).

Noémie shared with me how at many points the job of translation was an act of creative writing in itself, because much of the poetry if literally translated would not convey the same message. It was truly excellent to hear how Noèmie has contributed to French culture and literature. I look forward to picking up a copy of the book myself, and hopefully one day I will be able to read the French translation of it as well. It is certain that there will be French women and girls of color who will pick up Noèmie’s translation, and feel seen in a way that they perhaps have not felt before.



The Riley Lecture 2024

Insights from Meghann P. Galloway’s Lecture, “The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Using Narrative to Advance Policy Solutions to Our Most Pressing Social Problems.”

On the evening of March 18th, the Knight Club was host to an enlightening lecture by Meghann P. Galloway, a distinguished alumna of our university's class of 2010. With a background in criminal justice, law, and literature, Galloway discussed her journey from Alfred to Capitol Hill where she currently serves as Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legislative Affairs.

Galloway's narrative began with her fascination with the interplay between psychology and literature as an undergraduate, when she undertook a major in clinical psychology and two minors, one in criminal justice, and one in literature. For her, literature and stories have always played a part in law, as people’s narrative and their entwining with our legal system. With a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Drexel University and a JD degree, Galloway's career has been marked by a commitment to leveraging narratives for social good. Her experiences working as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill provided her with a firsthand understanding of the complexities of policy-making and the urgent need for narrative-driven solutions to pressing social issues.

She emphasized the importance of narratives in shaping our understanding of social problems, particularly within the criminal justice system. Drawing from her own encounters with vulnerable individuals in need of legal assistance, Galloway highlighted the messy reality of the criminal legal system, where nuances often blur the lines between right and wrong.

One of the key themes of Galloway's lecture was the transformative power of speaking up and advocating for change. She pointed to recent events surrounding gender violence and inequalities, such as the Harvey Weinstein scandal, as examples of how collective storytelling can lead to institutional accountability and policy reform. Galloway emphasized the importance of creating a supportive environment where individuals feel empowered to share their stories, even in the face of potential repercussions.

Such recent movements addressing gender violence and inequalities, like the #MeToo movement, are powerful demonstrations of collective actions. By amplifying marginalized voices and holding institutions accountable, Galloway argued that narratives have the potential to catalyze meaningful policy reform and societal transformation.



Menstrual Products Petition on Our Campus

AMAB (assigned male at birth) people don’t have to spend money on pads, tampons, menstrual cups, pain relievers or even on replacing stained underwear. That, I think, we can all agree on. It’s been proven time and again that the average woman has about 450 periods in her lifetime and that with an average of $25 spent on menstrual products per cycle, the cost builds to an estimated $11,200 over a lifetime. That is, of course, without counting the cost of having to call  in sick to work, the physiological symptoms such as cramps, diarrhea, acne, backaches, achy breasts, nausea…

A US study found that 67% of students miss out on school because they don't have the right period products.

Now what about Alfred? In some buildings such as Seidlin, the English department’s building, pads and tampons have started to appear sporadically in the bathrooms, with a sign acknowledging that those products were bought out of pockets by the teachers and staff working there. 

And that, to me, seems hardly fair. Again, who do you think are the teachers caring for the people menstruating and buying those necessities? Female teachers, of course.

Although their gesture is appreciated, it is not something you can leave to a few benefactors to do on their own, not to mention that students in other departments are no less deserving of free sanitary protection. In fact, many other universities offer these same services to their students at no cost whatsoever.

Professor Sandra Singer and I have thus decided to start a campaign on campus to obtain period supplies in our university’s bathroom. After having sent an email to the, let’s say, higher-ups, explaining the reasons why this initiative matters and giving actual solutions to the issue, we got no answer. The matter was swept under the rug. Undeterred and undefeated, we decided to spread the word. An article in the Fiat Lux Newspaper was published, along with a QR code leading to a campaigning website where students, staff and faculty can leave their signature, showing interest in the initiative. After a two-hour tour of all the bathrooms on campus, you can also now find and scan this QR code in Alfred’s toilets. Because, let’s be honest, many if not most of us, use their phone on the toilet anyway (gross!). So, instead of scrolling through Instagram, you can now sign the petition to show our administration that making menstrual hygiene products freely available in all campus bathrooms would be a simple yet impactful change making a significant difference in the lives of students who menstruate. Strength comes in numbers.

The objective today would be to collect 200 signatures before going back to the administration and showing them the petition, hoping that, this time, actions are taken. We are hoping, in the end, to work with the company Aunt Flow which provides this service for schools and universities. Collaborating with them is an opportunity to install hygiene product dispensers in the women's bathrooms across the university. The initial cost for the first year would be$21,240, covering the installation of dispensers. In subsequent years, the cost would amount to approximately$3,000 annually to continue supplying the necessary hygiene products.



Karen Porter Retires After 38 Years in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program

By Susan Morehouse


Throughout her career, Karen has taught courses informed by her feminism and concern for women’s lives in the sociology of sex and gender, the sociology of families, and social welfare institutions with a focus on the feminization of poverty. Her research includes working with local non-profits to directly address the ways in which systemic poverty impacts the lives of women and their families. In several research projects, she engaged A.U. students as her research assistants thereby introducing them to important ways their educations’ could affect the

In many ways, Dr. Karen L. Porter thinks of Women’s Studies at Alfred University as her first home. The program, now called the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, was only three years old when Karen joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Division of Social Sciences in 1986 and shortly thereafter joined the Women’s Studies Minor Advisory Board at the invitation of Dr. Gail Walker, the first director of the program. Karen has served on that board for most of her 38 years at Alfred.

larger world. A supportive colleague, Karen also team-taught the core course, Women in Society (now Women and Gender in Society), as well as guest-lectured in it numerous times, and co-designed and taught a hybrid sociology and English course on mothers and daughters with Professor Susan Morehouse.

Under Karen’s tenure as Director of the Women’s Studies Program (1995-1999), the minor became more visible, attracting the attention of greater numbers of students, faculty, and alumni. In 1996, the first Riley Lecture, an annual lecture featuring a scholar or artist whose work impacts the lives of women, took place under Karen’s leadership. In 1997, the first issue of the Alphadelphian, Women’s Studies very own newsletter, was published in the fall by Megan Allen, a Women’s Studies minor, under Karen’s mentorship and supervision. In 1999, also under Karen’s leadership, the first Abigail Allen Awards were given at Honors Convocation to celebrate and acknowledge the unique contributions to women’s empowerment and development at Alfred and in the larger world. In 2000, Karen herself received the Abigail Allen Award for her tireless work on behalf of women, her students, and her colleagues. As Abigail Allen urged us, Karen has always been “radical, radical to the core.”

Between 2006–2008, Karen also contributed to the Women’s Leadership Academy through her work with Amy Jacobson, the first director of the Women’s Leadership Center, on two AAUW grants to fund research on the pay gap (“Dreams to Reality”) and sexual harassment (“Finding the Line”). Most recently, Karen joined Professors Sandra Singer and Susan Morehouse to co-direct the WGST program.

It was especially meaningful to assist with preparations for the 2023 and 2024 Riley Lecture series, reminding Karen of how important the Riley sisters’ gift is to the visibility of our program and the quality of our programming.

In 2024, Karen will retire from her faculty position at Alfred, though she will remain a valued member of this community as a Professor of Sociology, Emerita. She will also continue to serve on the Judson Leadership Center Advisory Board and hopes to attend many Women’s and Gender Studies roundtables and Riley Lectures. In this, her final full-time semester at Alfred, Karen, who has inspired and directed many of our students’ capstone projects in Women’s and Gender Studies, completes her own capstone, continuing to serve on the Women’s and Gender Studies Executive Committee and the Judson Leadership Center Advisory Board. She retires grateful for the opportunity to have taught so many amazing students in her WGST courses and for her many friendships that have nurtured and sustained her through the years and wants each of her colleagues to know how much she respects and admires their radical and generous contributions to the cause of Women’s and Gender studies.



WGST Abigail Allen Award goes to : Angie Taylor

This award is given in memory of Abigail Allen, a founding mother of Alfred University, who dedicated her life’s work to advancing the cause of coeducation and encouraging women to pursue higher education.  In so doing, she contributed immeasurably to improving the quality of women’s lives on our campus and in the wider community.  The Abigail Allen Award is presented to faculty, staff, students, and alumni who embody and exemplify the standards set by Abigail Allen.

Angie Taylor’s path as a coach, advocate, and educator has taken her from Minnesota and Louisiana to Princeton, George Mason, and abroad to China and Nigeria. Finally, the stars aligned, and Angie arrived in Alfred during the winter of 2018 to become AU’s Head Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Coach. In September 2022, Angie was appointed interim Chief Diversity Officer for Alfred University. The appointment has since been made permanent. Angie also serves as the Title IX Coordinator for our campus.

In her role as coach, Chief Diversity Officer, and Title IX Coordinator, Angie has been incredibly supportive of students and remained positive even in very stressful scenarios, often offering the encouragement her colleagues need and value.

“I’m a passionate, energetic presenter and have dedicated my life to making people and organizations better.” She told us! “Additionally, I enjoy facilitating the scholarship of teaching and learning here at Alfred University from the two courses I currently teach, which are the Foundation of Wellness and Psychology of African American Experience.

Throughout my career, I have consistently demonstrated exceptional organizational and multitasking abilities, which have allowed me to coordinate complex operations related to student programming and experiences.”

Colleagues have described it as being an honor and privilege to work with Angie. She strives to educate and enrich the lives of the entire campus community. She readily volunteers to help with a variety of student activities. Angie has collaborated with the Judson Leadership Center on a DEI/Women’s Speaker series.

Students have described Angie as a force of nature bringing positive change to our university. They praise her for her skill at bringing diverse people together to build a community. They see her as a great model of what it means to be a global citizen.

Students appreciate how she has used her past experiences and global connections to benefit the AU community. Angie has been a true mentor to students. The Women’s and Gender Studies Program is grateful for this chance to honor Angie Taylor with the Abigail Allen Award.


Focus On: Mallory Szymanski

Mallory Szymanski, assistant professor of history and director of Africana studies, launched a new research project on the gendered experience of police violence and resistance in Rochester, NY. With co-author Ted Forsyth, adjunct professor of criminal justice and AU alum, Szymanski collected oral histories about an often-forgotten victim of police violence named Denise Hawkins. Hawkins was 18, newly married and mother to 18-month-old Little Louie, when Rochester Police Officer Michael Leach shot and killed her. This study, “Family Trouble: the 1975 Killing of Denise Hawkins and the Legacy of Deadly Force in the Rochester, NY Police Department,” published as an open-access article in Genealogy, was selected as the cover piece for the journal issue. Forsyth and Szymanski continue collecting oral histories for a book project that tracks police violence against Black women since 1975, and the attempts and failures to reform policing since. They involved students in collecting, transcribing, and analyzing interviews. The APEX-funded Oral History Research Team comprised Lio Bonnacio, Macie Francisco, and Anji Dzirko in spring semester. 

Szymanski’s academic research is also community focused. In March 2024, she served on a panel at Rochester’s City Hall about “Policing and Mental Health” during a week-long push to support funding for Daniel’s Law.


In addition, Forsyth and Szymanski have partnered with the Archive of Black History and Culture at the Rochester Public Library to make the oral history interviews available to community members.

She has also published work rooted in her dissertation. In Winter 2023, “Not His Own Boss: Marital Dispute and the Neurasthenia Defense in the West, 1893-96,” was published with color photos in the Pacific Northwest Quarterly. It tells the story of Aaron Hershfield, a wealthy banker who abandoned his wife and child and tried, unsuccessfully to manipulate a mental health diagnosis known as neurasthenia to escape alimony. At a time when courts increasingly relied on psychiatrists to legitimize an “insanity plea,” Hershfield’s attempt to maneuver a much less severe diagnosis to explain his marital failures became a national news sensation in the 1890s.

Szymanski promotes student research inside and outside the classroom. She is also the advisor to Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society. This year, five students:--Macie Francisco, Zac Laury, Kennedy Leach, Johnny Molyneaux, and Shannon Yocum--will travel to the University at Buffalo to present their research at the annual regional conference.

In her free time, Szymanski enjoys knitting sweaters, making jewelry, and roller skating.