Mujeres poderosas: Nine students organizations join forces for an empowering Women’s Month Paint & Sip event

Aidan Sheedy, Copy Editor

As On The Rocks pub filled up, students felt like they were in their living rooms at home as like-minded young leaders joined in on an evening of paint, pink drinks and “poder” last Tuesday.

The Latino Cultural Society hosted a collaborative “Women’s Month Paint & Sip” with eight other identity-based student organizations to honor the university’s students of color and give a happy send-off to Women’s History Month.

“With the lack of representation here, it can be really hard for students to see themselves reflected in what can be attainable,” LCS president and junior political science major Emily Diaz said. “Especially during women’s history month, we wanted to bring women of color into the conversation and make sure that there’s representation for all of our women of color on campus.”

This event in particular brought the LCS a nomination for “Event of the Year” at the Undergraduate Awards Ceremony last spring. Of course, the LCS needed to put on a meaningful encore performance, so the organization brought some friends to help.

“As we are building ourselves here within this Latinidad, we are empowering one another,” LCS vice president and junior sociology major Genesis Paulino said. “Having an event where each organization can have some time to shine, represent themselves and also celebrate each other is really important.”

The new collaborators included the Black Student Union, South Asian Society, Gender  Sexuality Alliance and the International Student Association, among others. Each organization was given the task of having one influential woman represent it in the paint-by-number kits for the event.

“Many of us are student leaders navigating a predominately-white institution and something as simple as being able to come grab a paint kit to destress means a lot,” Paulino said. “We want to do things that make people not feel like college students, but just people enjoying their lives.”

The figures chosen included the likes of iconic singer-songwriter Nina Simone, representing the BSU, and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta for the ISA. Both Diaz and Paulino noted that at last year’s event, there were only a select few figures that organizations could choose from, but this time they thought it was necessary to allow organizations to select whomever it wanted.

“I think a lot of times when there is representation, you constantly see the same women and it’s very limiting,” Paulino said. “It might just be a paint kit for some people, but to other people, it’s a way for us to highlight the importance the other people that have (come) before us.”

ISA vice president and senior political science major Genesis Iscoa painted the Chicana icon Huerta and shared the benefits of this collaborative effort.

“Not only is painting a nice way to relax, it’s also a very good bonding event for everyone to celebrate,” Iscoa said. “I’m just having a great time.”

Not only does this event bring in lots of strong student leaders, but it can make some too.

“Last year at this event, we actually met three of our e-board members,” Diaz said. “So it’s events like this that bring out the best in students.”

Diaz, the face of this event, is no stranger to gatherings of powerful young people as she has racked up quite the resume. In her three years at QU, Diaz has been a MLK Dream Award recipient, an undergraduate student award nominee and is of course the president of arguably the most influential cultural organization on campus.

What Diaz wanted from this event was to honor all the identities that make up people of color.

“A lot of the times when we’re talking about DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and multiculturalism, we’re homogenizing people of color as a whole and we’re leaving a lot of people out of the conversations,” Diaz said. “(University initiatives) like the multicultural suite are made for people of color, but even that isn’t even big enough for all of us to fit in.”

A student and woman of color in a predominately white institution, Paulino also sees the systemic issues that QU students face as there seems to be a lack of higher representation, adding to the need for recognition of powerful women of color.

“We see ourselves as the future, but you can’t envision yourself in a place you’ve never seen,” Paulino said. “Even within our staff personnel … the people that look like us are the people who are working in the (cafeterias), working as janitors, who are very important workers, but they also have a very limited role within the university.”