Experience SDSU Podcast
Podcast Ep 2
Speakers: Sisilen Simo, Hannah Marquez, and Taylor Bantle.
Intro - Erik G.:
You're listening to the Experience SDSU podcast created by students for students here at San Diego State.
Hi, guys, and welcome back to another episode of the Experience SDSU podcast. My name is Sisilen. I'll be one of your hosts today and I am joined by
and our special guest,
Thank you for joining us today, Hannah and Taylor. I really appreciate you guys being here. Hannah, can you just tell me or tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do here, at SDSU?
All right. Hi, everyone. My name's Hannah Marquez, she/her pronouns and I'm a fourth year student at SDSU history major with an anthropology minor. And I'm a WAGE mentor at the Women's Resource Center on campus, and I've been involved with the Women's Resource Center on campus since my freshman year, you know, 2018 when I first got here. What I do now is essentially I'm a mentor to freshman students. And it's kind of a role that I've taken up after being helped out so much myself and my transition here thanks to the Women's Resource Center. So that's a little bit about me, but I'm sure you'll have more questions.
No, that's super exciting. I didn't know that the Women's Resource Center offered WAGE counseling. Could you tell me a little bit more about that, like what you do specifically with that?
Of course! So the program is relatively new, so don't feel too bad that you didn't know about it before. I didn't have the opportunity to participate in my first year. Although I'm really glad that students now, essentially in your first year, you're given the opportunity to live in a dorm in Zura or SCP. That's the woman and equity...women and gender equity program. And what you do is you take classes on gender studies, on intersectional justice, small classes to kind of supplement your normal major. We've had students are engineering majors, bio majors, business majors, not at all related to women's studies who are taking this, you could say a little bit of a tiny minor in WAGE in order to be able to learn a little bit more about social justice and about how they can become activists themselves and just carry that spirit into their future careers. And as a WAGE mentor myself, I have bi-weekly meetings with my mentees - students that I've been assigned - about a dozen or so, and get to talk to them about how they've been, how their classes have been going and support them in any way I can. Whether that means connecting them to resources that they might not have known about like CMPS,g all that counseling at SDSU offers, or alternatively just giving them a base for someone to listen and to make them feel heard. Because Lord knows that's something that a lot of people need.
Yeah, yeah, 100 percent. Um, as a woman, you know, as a woman here at SDSU, could you talk a little bit about your perspective as a female in college? You know, how did you find your community and your circle here on campus? And did the WRC, you know, did that play any role in that?
Of course. Yeah, I mean, I was born in San Diego, born raised here my whole life. SDSU was always kind of not my backyard, but pretty close. But I wasn't actually quite sure what to do with myself once I graduated. So once I was offered the opportunity to study here with the fairly generous scholarship, I took it because I didn't know what else really to do. And I was kind of coming here alone too, because a lot of my friends chose programs elsewhere across the state, across the country. I felt very lonely and lost my first semester at SDSU, especially because I didn't quite feel like I could relate to my roommates at Zura, which is um, and I felt I was kind of like a queer woman. I was a Latina woman. I was a broke woman.
You know, that's crazy. You said that I also stayed in Zura my freshman year here on campus and I was on the sustainability floor. But I knew that we had like a pride floor on Zura. And there are so many incredible people that were living on that floor and some who weren't even a part of like the, you know, the LGBTQ plus community just living there and coexisting. And I just really like appreciated that and that community as well. But I do understand what you mean by not feeling like you could relate to your roommates. And I'm really glad that Zura and the residence halls all made those initiatives to, like, have us come out and do like the group things or the group activities like for the dorm and stuff like that. So that really helps me a little bit too.
Honestly, I wish that I had, like, come out earlier. I wish I'd come out earlier, I could have like signed up to the floor without any questions, but I was part of a different floor, I believe like the Weber Honors College.
Oh yeah, yeah. So second floor.
All the nerds! Haha!
And yeah, that was. I didn't quite relate to the people on that floor and I felt very lost because SDSU, as you know, is a huge campus. I think it's like, what, thirty five thousand students? And, you know, freshman year, especially your classes are huge. Like all my intro classes, one-on-ones, you've got like 400 people packed in Storm Hall.
Yeah, all these GE's.
Right, So I felt very alone, right up until I realized that there was like a giant pride flag waving right in front of the complex of what's the Pride Center and the Women's Resource Center right next to each other, a little off like the KPBS building. And, you know, I was like, “Oh, look, the gays, my people!” And I wandered in that direction my first few weeks at SDSU. And when I tell you, when I first walked into the Women's Resource Center, I really treasure how welcoming they made me feel right off the bat. I tried joining some other clubs, you know, I didn't quite feel it. I felt like a little bit like everyone else had already made a friend group and I was kind of like intruding, not at the WRC. They were very like, you guess, friendly and open, just asking me, “Hey, what's up? How's it been going? What's your name? Oh, you’re new? Oh, awesome!” Just getting me started in the conversation and throwing me a line of like, “Hey, want to join?” I was like, “Hey, sit on the couch,” (the WRC if y'all don't know has like this huge kind of like circular couch set up in the lobby where everyone goes to hang out and study and work on whatever they're working on). So much homework at SDSU too.
And right off the bat, I kind of felt a good vibe and I was very, very interested in just spending time there. I've always been in high school, too - I was very involved in clubs related to social justice, The Red Cross was a big one when I was in high school, a little bit of the GSA. So the WRC kind of felt like a similar environment to me of somewhere where I could...OK, maybe you hadn't gone to Berkeley, but that didn't mean that I can’t get involved with student campus activism here.
And um, yes, like there was an opportunity to sign up as a volunteer at the center. It was such a small thing, really just three hours a week. And basically you're just, you know, pushing paper and making tea and helping out any little ways at the resource center. But from there, it kind of like grew bigger and bigger and it snowballed into, “Oh, can I help out with this program? Can I help out with this poster? Can I help out with these like little PR opportunities or research?” And from there, I was offered the opportunity to apply to become a fellow, which was kind of like an intern, except that back then the WRC didn't pay their interns. Now they do, so jealous. I became an intern at the WRC and that lasted for a whole semester, and that was so much more interesting because I got to do actual like research projects on stuff like the industrial prison complex and stuff like beauty norms and how they influence us, especially with social media.
We're going to get into that. Don't worry, we're definitely going to touch on that topic.
Well, I studied it, so.
That's exciting. I really enjoy hearing about your experience and you just like kind of coming to and finding your community within women. And I think one thing about SDSU is there are a lot of, you know, strong independent women who do go to school here. And, you know, finding that community is really important. Shout out to Adela, actually, for being the first female president at SDSU. And Adela is a trailblazer so shout out Adela, we love you. Thanks for all that you do for us. And yeah, so I just kind of want to know a little bit more about, you know, like the WRC, just some kind of like facts, services.
Actually, Taylor, you have any questions you want to ask?
Um, I don't have anything right now. I honestly didn't - I didn't know a whole lot about this. I didn't know that Zura had those floors to accommodate those people. I got put on an all women's floor in Tenochca my freshman year without even asking. But it was honestly such a cool experience because, you know, we're all females up there. So we all kind of made this collective group and we're all intertwined. We like to sit and talk to each other and sit out in the halls. Take pictures before going out. It was such a very fun little community thing, especially like when you didn't know a whole lot of people. Everyone was very welcoming. So knowing that there is a women's group on campus, it's such a - it's just very empowering. Such a cool thing. You really you can go there if you need help, right?
And honestly, that's one of the things that I find really amazing that the Women's Resource Center is OK. There's women in the title we know it, but it's not just like, “Oh, there's like a barrier like you can't get in”. Yeah, we're right next door to a Pride Center so we have a bunch of like women, fems, gender queer people and also just, you know, allies from all over the community. Some really cool dudes, too. But they've all kind of come together under the banner of feminism and pushing for gender equality and pushing for a better campus, which is kind of why like, I wish that SDSU did give more of a shout out to all the available resources like the WAGE program, like the Women's Resource Center, like all the other resource centers, including the brand new ones. I mean, we've had the Black Resource Center and the Center for Intercultural Relations, like we've had a few, but not half as many as we had in just the past year with the pandemic. We've had, like, the Native Resource Center, now the Latinx Resource Center now. I really wish SDSU really did highlight more of the resources that it offered for students, which is why I'm glad I could be here with you.
Yeah, of course. And you know, you spoke about, you know, the disparities you know, across like gender pay and representation and things like that. So what are your thoughts on that like at SDSU when it comes to like, you know, our education and how you see, you know, women being represented in the classroom with being your professors? Do you feel like we are kind of existing in a male dominated environment here at SDSU?
I mean, talk about a male-dominated society, at the very least. Yeah, I look at the laws that are passing right now in Texas and I’m like oof.
Coming from a Texan, I'm embarrassed.
Oh no. Oh no.
Yeah, I'm telling you right? But yeah, it's stuff like that. It's stuff like this that SDSU has been pretty pushing it in terms of when we had the first women's studies department on campus back in the 1970s. But even then we always could do better and we always should be aiming to do better.
That's why I like the Women's Resource Center. Actually, we started out in the 1970's with the women's studies department. We were one of the first trailblazers in that sense as a campus to have this feminine space on campus. And yet we lost funding very shortly after. And it wasn't until very, very recently in the past, less than five years that we've got an actual physical space back where people could work together, where we could offer it, for example, like private offices for people to come in and talk to Elzbeth and our leaders at the WRC for people to have a space to talk and listen and be believed. Yeah. So that's why I really appreciate the fact that things have changed and things are getting better. Slowly but surely, we're fighting for it.
No, that's really great. And I'm happy that you made sure to highlight the fact that the WRC is there for women to have a safe space where you are believed, where you are heard and where you can express yourself without feeling judgment. And that's one resource which I wish personally that I had known earlier, in my time here on campus. Because being a woman of color, especially, it's hard to find people who understand you and your individual experience. And I think one thing about the WRC that I really appreciate is them, having people on staff and just having a place where women of all our multifaceted nature are able to coexist and support each other. And that's so important in this Male-Dominated world, like you said that we live in is the support of women and the support of each other. Even when we feel like we're not believed and we're alone, there are places and there are communities where you can find people.
Exactly! Because part of our programming this month and something that's always been part of our programming on a weekly basis at the WRC is having spaces like the Café with Women of Color, or Black Feminism - which was like a week or so ago. Having spaces that hold and honor how multifaceted we are and how oftentimes it's not just clear cut. Oh, they said this one thing like putting me down because I'm a woman in my case, but I've faced cases where I've received commentary because I'm a Mexican woman, because I'm from an immigrant family background, because I'm a queer Mexican. Like all of these different sides, they all tie together and they all tie together and how you experience the world and how other people see you too. So, yeah, that's why one of the big missions of the WRC is collaborating with other resource centers and making sure that the spaces are as open as possible to as many people as possible for them to find resources and find help.
So what are a few of your favorite things that the WRC does to help women, or any events that they've put on that you've attended that have really stuck with you and that you really liked that they did?
I mean, as myself as a wage mentor, part of what I do actually is plan programs for the WRC to host. Not to gas myself up too much, but I really enjoyed how last semester I was able to lead - myself and one of my partners - were able to lead a program called Grow Your Mental Health, where we kind of help people feel comfortable with all the different services that counseling and psychological services offers, for free for students. We're already paying for it with our tuition money. Bringing in a counselor to come talk about everything that SDSU offers and helping break down some of those stereotypes and those stigmas surrounding mental health. Because as a college student, it's awful. It's awful. But we also did it while doing something fun! In this case, for Grow Your Mental Health, we had little plant seeds and we were planting cute little flowers as we talked.
Aww that’s so cute!
Right? And it's that kind of multilayeredness of doing something fun and doing something that you learn that I really enjoyed. When we've had film festivals, for example, about feminist around the globe who’ve had their little independent films and talk about their situations and individual countries.
But yeah, I know one of my professors this semester mentioned how there's so many females in my class. He's like, this is very shocking because every year I've taught here, it's been very male dominated. And there's so many females now who want to be directors. They want to be directors of photography and all the producers. And we learned recently about editing. When it first started, film editing was a very female based field because it was similar to crocheting or knitting or all those, you know, artsy things that we were meant to do. But once sound came into film, it was male dominated because they saw it as, Oh, this is more technology based and females won't know how to do it because it's all cords and cables and you have to edit everything so much more meticulously. So, you know, I really like to break the norm, and now I am going into sound editing.
Because I think that men can, you know don't need to take all the jobs from us that we want to do. So, yeah, just seeing the female empowerment in film, my entire class, it's 90 percent girls. I think I have two guys in there which they should be allowed. Yes. We're not trying to discount that. They are not allowed to pursue that. Go for them. But females look at you go.
And I think it's really exciting that more women and you're seeing this kind of shift to the female perspective in film. I think we can all say a lot of times in movies and TV shows, women are kind of objectified and portrayed very stereotypically. And I don't see that very often when there are women behind the camera like Ava DuVernay, for example, she is a phenomenal director. And I love that she is able to capture the essence and the multifacetedness.
My favorite word of the day.
Of women that she shoots and that are in her films and of their stories, and not just making us look like a woman scorned or a woman in love or a ditz or a bimbo, or things like that. So whenever we spoke about seeing this shift in your class and and feeling really proud to be be a part of that, it just,kind of like instills in me that although we are still living in this climate that is dominated so much by the patriarchy, women are rising up and are taking over and making our voices be heard. And I guess, I can really appreciate people who are part of that movement. So thank you for being a part of that.
It is a very artistic based field.
But art matters!
Women are, you know, we are more inclined to be artistic.
We have a perspective that should definitely not be overlooked. And I feel like I agree it's been overlooked for so long in film, both behind the camera and in front of it. I mean, don't get me started on like 90s rom coms.
Right, everyone groans.
I love how now not just our generation, but with the times women are, are sticking up for themselves and putting themselves out there to be heard whether it's positive or negative. I think now we just want to be heard. And it's so important because for so long even through history I mean, you know this is a history buff, we haven't been given that platform. And now with social media and everything we have the platform, really, to say how we feel. And speaking of social media and it being, you know, the platform, what role has that played in your experience as a woman in modern day society do you guys think?
I'll go at it from a two sided perspective, more of like a personal way I see myself and then also have seen the world. Personally, social media kind of hurt me when I was younger because it kind of gave me the wrong idea of how I should look and how I should be in order to be like a proper woman, whatever that means. Or like, even worse, a pretty woman. Because Lord knows, especially with filters nowadays getting better and better, there's a pressure to get skinnier and skinnier, too, or to get, you know, white. I mean, I'm a brown woman, but like, get white or washed away or washed.
Or get surgery on your nose, get a nose job or like get lip fillers or things like that.
Exactly and i'm kind of like a brown, fluffy woman myself - or fluffier when I was in middle school at least. I felt very out of step with what I thought beauty should be. And that kind of - I mean especially in this society - where, like a lot of a woman's worth is kind of judged by their beauty unfortunately. Not so much nowadays. It's getting better - slightly.
I would just like to beg to differ. Yeah, no, I definitely agree. Like even growing up and what you said.
America’s Next Top Model. Do you remember that show?
Tyra Banks needs to be stopped because of some of the things that she was saying. Back in the day we thought it was funny, but we were internalizing all that and it's so damaging, so damaging. And like even to me, like, that's really why I want to work in media is because of the effects that it had on me as a kid and how much I hated myself and wanted to change who I was because of all of these images, I was shown every day. Like on Disney and like the magazines and thingsmade me feel like crap, you know, and made me feel like I was less than and that I needed to be a certain way to be accepted. And you know, like you said, things are changing now. Things are getting more...
We have a brown Disney princess and a Black Disney princess.
Exactly, and Princess Tiana is my favorite. Not because she's black, but she has the best. She's literally the best and she has the best songs.
She worked so Hard!
She really did work SO hard! *starts singing Almost there from Princess and The Frog*
That's how you know, Tiana is the best. But, you know, just like now that representation and knowing that like my kids and these kids now are growing up seeing women of all shapes, colors and sizes everywhere, it makes me feel better. But there still needs to be work done.
Right and I mean, I will, I will give social media credit, though, before this turns to like this boomer-esque thing of like we hate technology. But social media also did help connect me to, as you're saying, inspiring stories or people who looked like me - who came from the same background as me, who had the same starting opportunities as I did limited as it were, but who made the best of them and managed to become incredibly successful and happy with themselves. And that's something that I think that social media has a lot of power to do, as well as, for example, the Women's Resource Center through our Instagram follow us @SDSUWRC. We are able to share stories and share different perspectives and events of what's going on related to feminism. I learned so much more about myself, particularly from like a queerness angle, because that wasn't really talked about publicly at all back then. I learned so much about different people who were out there and who felt more real than, per se, the celebrities that were promoted or the historical figures that honestly as a history major myself, I will say that sometimes a historical figure can feel kind of dusty instead of feeling relatable. But that's why I kind of feel grateful a little bit too that social media was also able to connect me to stories of people like myself and also people who weren't like me at all. And that I gained more empathy for or, gained a new like ability to...not walk a mile in your shoes.
But to help understand, yeah, better understanding. Yeah.
Snap from their phone.
Also, too, I like what you said about, you know, the authenticity aspect. I appreciate that about social media. You know, people who do use it to be authentic and show their real selves and connect with people. I do appreciate that and I do feel like that is a positive aspect. I don't hate social media just letting you guys know. I just am very aware of the negatives of it because I had to fight through that and I lived that. And being a woman on social media is not easy.
It’s not easy. Blocking people left and right.
Left and right! And you know, and it really forces you to kind of search within yourself and figure out what kind of person you want to be, what kind of woman you want to be.
And speaking on to that, you know, every woman here at this table is an incredible person, an incredible woman, and we've all gone through so much. And I just really appreciate, you know, like being able to share this space and share this setting and have this conversation and, you know, really getting to know more about your individual experience as a woman. I think that us being able to have this platform to even just have conversations like this as three women from all different walks of life come on here and just show that we have so much in common and about our experience, it's really beautiful. So again, thank you both so much for being here. I really appreciate that so much.
No. Yeah, thank you so much for your sharing, too. And that's something that I've again tying it back to the WRC and also Pride Center, too, because I've learned this from both sides - It's about the found family and it's about the people around you who you choose, who've chosen you, who support you and who really are there for you that help us, you know, carry on and keep on marching forward in today's day and age.
One last comment. So the Women's Resource Center on campus, it's right by the KPBS center, if you know where that is. It's open from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Friday, except on Fridays we close a little early. So everyone, I really invite anyone who's listening to come on by and visit us and check out our Instagram and our website. Find out what programs and really help yourself to find people who support you and find validation and someone who will listen.
Yeah. Well, thank you so much again, Hannah, for being on. Yeah, thank you, Taylor, for coming today and speaking with us.
So glad to talk with yall.
Yes. And again, you know just one last thing to leave us with. Stick up for yourselves. Even when you feel like it's hard and the outcome might not always be positive, you will feel a lot better knowing that in that moment you stood up for yourself and you did what you thought was right, regardless of the outcome and that's always what's important.