American Studies, May 1993
Feminist activism on Miami's campus has been surprising strong since the late 1960's. Nationally, second wave feminism has remained fairly steady. Nationwide feminism has a fairly steady core group of people, and fluctuation in group size overall was less likely to affect the movement than where the movement is on a smaller scale. At Miami University, Oxford campus, the movement was and is on a smaller scale, and fluctuation affects feminist activism more dramatically.
Since about 1969 or 1970, there have been tow major waves of activism in Oxford. The first lasted from the beginning of second wave feminism to approximately 1975. During this time, Oxford/Miami Women's Liberation, heavily influenced by the national movement, was extremely active. The group attempted many tactics used in the larger scale movement. After five years or so, the group seemed to die out. Perhaps other factors were involved. At the very beginning of a movement, it is often essential that participants bond, no matter what. It is possible that after the initial frenzy of discovering feminism and finding a supportive community, women felt more comfortable and felt less compelled to be as active as they had once been.
Between approximately 1975-80, feminist activism on campus seemed to be focused on creating a better environment for women at Miami. The Engle commission was formed, a Women's Studies program established, and a Women's Resources Center founded. The more radical actions of Oxford/Miami Women's Liberation faded, feminists on campus worked the system to begin building a place where all women could feel comfortable.
Another big wave of activism took place beginning in 1987. Interestingly enough, the school year of 1987-88 was the year Miami celebrated one hundred years of women at Miami . Although this may be one factor in the creation of a surge, because of women centered activities, the main factor was probably the combination of students like Braeman, Lotz, and Ewers and professors like Linda Singer, encouraging activism. This surge has continued as the Women's Studies program is beginning to accept and encourage the inseparability of academics and activism. In addition, the current Women's Center provides all women an opportunity for empowerment that allows a base from which to work on feminist issues.
At a mainly conservative university, such as Miami, it is surprising that so much valuable feminist activism has taken place. Feminists in Oxford followed national trends concerning activism fairly closely. The women and men working for change through feminist activism have brought to the university's attention important points. In most cases, eventually the university has altered the policy or event that feminists are concerned about, though not always.
Because of the continuous fluctuation of people on campus and in Oxford, Miami has not yet had a continuous women's liberation movement. However, the spurts of activism on campus have created some change, and a valuable awareness of feminists issues.
Contents | Acknowledgments | Introduction | Women's Safety | Images of Women | Education | Conclusion | Endnotes
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