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The Citizen

Open Mic Night highlights gender issues at HKS

By The Citizen Staff

The second floor study space of Taubman was transformed into a space befitting its name – The Lounge – on Thursday night when 40 odd students huddled together in the cozy space to celebrate Open Mic Night.

Organized by Pipeline, a group started in 2010 composed currently of MPP students, the event helped create an open platform and a safe space to share thoughts and feelings in the student community about things they care about, including gender equality and feminism.

photo[1]Nadir Vissanjy (MPP’14) opened the evening by speaking about why women’’s rights and equality among the sexes is important to him and how he became involved in Pipeline. This was followed by Kunal Modi, who spoke about why he thought men have not been a bigger part of the discussion on gender thus far. Aubrey Merpi (MPP’14) called for changing the narrative around feminism to one that celebrates men as allies and advocates of women rather than painting them in the negative light of the “male oppressor”.

In the spoken section, Art Reyes (MPP’14) captured the limitation of ‘The American Dream’ in today’s broken society through his self-composed poem Last Thursday. Gregory Pavone (MPP’14) recited the classic poem by Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, urging the audience to stop and enjoy the moment. Logan Gibson (MPP’13) shared an anecdote about the absence of paid parental leave in the U.S., one of four countries worldwide that does not have this provision legally and where companies offer three months of “short-term disability benefits” as maternity leave.

Halimatou Hima (MPP’14), our very own recent TEDx talk superstar, recited a self-composed poem titled “Welcome to the Airport”, describing her frustration at “a search for security [that] creates insecurity” and her hopes that “random screenings” at airports would someday be truly random rather than based on racial and religious profiling. Candace (MPP’14) shared her personal story to remind everyone that there are no broken homes, only broken policies. Anya Malkov (MPP’13) inspired the men and women in the room to unashamedly call themselves feminists, who stand for equal rights for women and men. Also speaking were Hannah Schafer (MPP’14), Ernesto A. Umaña (MPP’14) and Marlysa Thomas (MPP’14).

Leah Shearer (MPP’14), supported by the very talented Nick Bohl of Lesley University on the Congo drum, was the resident vocalist for the evening, sharing her beautiful voice with four songs – More Love by Dixie Chicks, When you come back down by Nickle Creek, Toxic by Britney Spears and Back to Me by Kathleen Edwards.

Finally, Melissa Sandgren (MPP’13), the longest-standing member of Pipeline, shared the work the student group has done so far in speaking with the Centers at HKS as well as Dean David Ellwood and Dean Chris Fortunato to persuade them to bring gender parity in recruitment and events. She also encouraged the student body to join in this ask and get involved with the movement in small and big ways.