Campus Watch – International Women’s Day Edition

Melania Trump receives ‘Woman of Distinction’ award amid student backlash

Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) has awarded first lady Melania Trump with the ‘Woman of Distinction’ award. The decision was made despite backlash from students and alumni. 

Trump changed her primary residence to Palm Beach alongside her husband last year and stated that she was “grateful” to receive the award. 

The school website states that the award is for women “who cherish community and family and want to preserve these ideals for others.” 

Upon accepting the award, Trump said: “As the first lady of the United States, it is a great honor to serve the people of this country.” When discussing her ‘Be Best’ initiative, a campaign that aims to tackle issues that affect children, she stated: “when we teach our children to cherish our values and care for each other, they are better prepared to carry on Americans’ legacy of compassion, service and patriotism.” 

Students, however, have voiced uproar about the decision to award the first lady. Graysen Bohening, a senior at PBA, stated: “I have not been convinced that the first lady’s character or impact here is worthy of that recognition.” 

Scott Hampson, who graduated in 2013, argued that Melania Trump’s anti-bullying initiative is “laughable” since “she’s married to one of the biggest cyberbullies in our country”. 

Charly Loughlin

Imperial Student Wins ‘Women of the Future’ Award 

Last year, Imperial Maths undergraduate Vanessa Madu won a ‘Women of the Future’ Award. 

She has been challenging the lack of diversity in mathematics since the start of her degree, becoming involved in outreach projects such as STEMettes, her own initiative Project Insight, and interviewing STEM professional women. 

It was from the STEMettes mentoring programme that Vanessa was able to travel to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Florida, and since then she has resolved to improve STEM engagement with school children through maths outreach alongside her department. 

She said: ‘exposure at a young age is what makes a long-lasting change…’ 

Her blog sharing insecurities about getting into the world of tech as a young woman was recognised by the Women of the Future panel. Her nomination was ‘on the basis of a lot of things that I had been doing since coming to Imperial, because I had started to get the ball moving on things I was passionate about.’

Amelia Cutting 

Loughborough student sets up sustainable company which empowers women

19-year-old Raena Ambani, who is studying Sports Technology at Loughborough University, has set up her own social enterprise to fight for female empowerment and waste management in rural India. 

Ambani is the founder of ‘BigPA’, which uses textile waste to produce a range of products in order to prevent them from being sent to landfills. Her inspiration came from visiting factories in India and noticing the extent of poly textile waste which could not be recycled. Ambani also noticed that there were very few women working in these industries.

BigPA not only tackles textile waste but also provides jobs for women. When attempting to employ more women, Ambani stated: “It wasn’t an easy job to convince them to work with me because they still had that old mindset that women should stay at home, cook, clean, and do domestic chores.” 

While studying for her degree at Loughborough, Ambani acts as a mentor for the women who are currently employed at BigPA.

After teaching them how to use mobile phones and computers, she is able to stay in touch with employees during term time.

Charly Loughlin

University of Leicester’s International Women’s Day to Include Trans Women

The University of Leicester has come under fire after it rebranded its celebration of International Women’s Day to also include transgender women. 

The university decided to rename the day to ‘International Womxn’s Day’ in order to make it more inclusive for all women. 

Some, however, have taken offense to the alterations made and have described it as ‘insulting’ and argued it ‘belittles everything women have had to fight for’.  

The backlash comes after students democratically elected Dan Orr, a trans woman, to the position of woman’s officer. However, one individual when speaking to the Times stated that she feels silenced due to backlash she would face from the university if she were to discuss her feelings of upset. 

In her election manifesto, Orr states: “Feminism is nothing without women of colour, migrant, disabled, queern, trans, black and sex working women”. She adds: “As a trans woman, I have been lucky to work with and be supported by some deeply compassionate women activists and I want to extend the same support to women who are often excluded from certain types of feminism”. 

Charly Loughlin

University of Lincoln Student Uses ‘Sugar Daddies’ to Fund Student Life

University of Lincoln student, Gracie Adams, has been using her five sugar daddies to pay for her studies. Insisting that her relationship with the men is purely platonic, she has dresses, rent and food paid for her in exchange for her precious company. 

Gracie aims to attend one date per month in order to pay her bills.  

Gracie began using the site ‘seeking arrangements’ at the age of eighteen and states that she ‘wasn’t thinking of seriously committing to the sugar baby life’. She can earn over £300 per date, including new clothes and shoes. 

Gracie has been very open about her relationship with her sugar daddies to both her family and boyfriend. Although worried about her online safety both parties were supportive of her way of gaining financial stability during her time at university.