Alisha Herrick: Staff Recipient of the Advancement of Women Award

On April 13, 2011, Alisha Herrick, a student of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and staff member of the Dean’s Office, was honored as the staff recipient of the Advancement of Women Award. The award was presented by the President’s Commission for the Status of Women.

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) seeks to ensure that the University responds to the needs of women by removing inequities and providing a supportive educational, working, and social environment for all members of the campus community. The Commission annually seeks to honor one student, one lecturer or tenured/tenure-track faculty member, one staff member, and one administrator. All members of the campus community (except current PCSW commissioners) who have demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of women are eligible for these awards.

Herrick has been a student at California State University, Long Beach since fall 2005. She has been employed by the Office of the Dean for 3 years and has grown into an accomplished leader and organizer during that time. In the fall 2007 semester, Herrick became interested in the peace movement and joined CSULB’s Center for Peace and Social Justice (CPSJ), which promotes peace, human rights, and social justice through the use of education, participation in the larger peace movement, and hands-on activism. As a member of the steering committee, Herrick participated in developing the aforementioned mission statement and planning events. Moreover, as the only student on the steering committee, she worked to ensure that the concerns of both students and women were considered.

While working with the CPSJ and the College of Liberal Arts, Herrick developed the Practicing Peace Festival and served as its event coordinator in 2008 and 2009. The emphasis of the event was to create an experience for diverse students to discuss how they may empower one another toward a more peaceful way of being. In addition, Herrick created a platform for local and on-campus organizations to share ideas in regard to the development of a more peaceful world. In 2010, the Practicing Peace Festival became organized and coordinated under the College of Liberal Arts Student Council (CLASC). Upon this transition, Herrick became the event supervisor and worked closely with CLASC, the College of Liberal Arts, and CPSJ to ensure that the event continued to progress smoothly under its new leadership. The Practicing Peace Festival is now an annual event.

Herrick has demonstrated prominent opposition to conversations and material that support violence against women. In early fall of the 2010-2011 academic year, an article was published by the Union Weekly newspaper that proposed various behaviors men could follow to instigate and secure sexual relations with women—behaviors that arguably condone sexual assault against college women. Herrick sought to bring attention to the inappropriateness of the article and thus organized a protest calling for the resignation of the Editor-in-Chief and the three female writers of the article. The protest sparked interest in the issue, and Herrick worked with a number of students to create JAGed (Justice and Gender Education), a print and web-based platform to educate campus communities about how social justice issues are intersectional and related to gendered power structures. The response to the Union Weekly article, “How to Get Laid: A Girl’s Guide for Guys,” and the subsequent creation of JAGed was widely acknowledged on campus by the Daily 49er, the Union Weekly, and  Beach TV’s original campus show “Campus Connection”. Herrick was approached by the producers of “Campus Connection” to participate in a televised debate with Union Weekly Editor-in-Chief Kevin O’Brien about freedom of speech and women’s rights. The debate aired in January 2011 and can be viewed on YouTube.

Herrick plans to graduate with her B.A. in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at the end of the spring 2012 semester.

Written by Cortney Smethurst