East Bay receives first women’s empowerment club

Tishauna Carrell,
Staff Writer

Last January, six Cal State East Bay women decided to start a club that would bring a larger Latin culture presence onto the Hayward campus. Drawing inspiration from their single mothers, they also wanted to include women empowerment in the mix.

On Dec. 2, The Wall Street Journal ranked Cal State East Bay as the fourth most diverse college in the Western region. Although we attend a school with a mixed community, East Bay students Yadira Alvarado and Anna Frias believe there is a lack of cultural events on campus.

Last spring, Alvarado and Farias established the Guerreras of Empowerment Club on campus to promote women’s equality and acceptance of different beliefs and cultures, according to Farias, a second-year sociology major. Due to the impending summer break after the club’s establishment, the club didn’t become active until this fall.

“We [are] passionate about the idea of women empowerment, academics and cultural awareness” said Alvarado, who is also a second-year sociology major.

The women wanted to choose a name that was unique but also included their Latin culture, and the members voted on second-year health science major and club member Sharon Vargas’ idea of “Guerreras.” Guerreras means female warriors in Spanish, and the members felt like the name Guerreras of Empowerment stood out and made a nice acronym: G.O.E. “I personally love it because Guerreras has such a strong connotation and it’s powerful,” said Farias. “That’s what we’re trying to promote: having security within ourselves, having securities with being who you are and accepting others as well.”

Last February, Preciado filled out a “new organization” application with the center of Student Life and Leadership to establish Guerreras of Empowerment as a club on campus. This process also involves developing a club constitution and acquiring at least five members in order to qualify, according to Lauren Anderson, Student Life and Leadership assistant at East Bay.

Two months after Preciado submitted the application and constitution through BaySync, a platform that allows CSUEB students to connect through an online community, she received an email from Student Life and Leadership that informed her that the club had been approved. At that time, the club attracted 14 members.

The newly established Guerreras of Empowerment members made their first debut in May at the Relay For Life, a 24-hour fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, where they introduced themselves to the other organizations at the event.

Guerreras of Empowerment realized that they did not just want to bring Latin awareness to the campus, but wanted to do the same for other cultures. The club hopes to collaborate with other cultural clubs on campus to create events. “We need different cultures on campus,” said Alvarado. “We need to bring out more Black cultures, Latino, Asian cultures on campus as well.”

During January, four members left the club due to personal reasons. The club currently has 10 members and meets every Monday at 7 p.m. on campus to plan events and share ideas. President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about women and the Mexican community during his election campaign are examples of topics discussed at Guerreras of Empowerment meetings.

“I was personally offended, I mean I took it to heart,” said Deborah Soto, second-year kinesiology major. “I mean, with what he said with immigrants and Latinos, he’s talking about my family; he’s talking about my girls, and all these people that I know of.”

Soto believes that Trump’s derogatory words about women have made the club a more relevant resource for women.

“It definitely encourages us to promote what we’re trying to fight for, which is women’s equality and acceptance of different beliefs and cultures,” said Farias.

Since fall term began, the club has held a Halloween candygram fundraiser, which raised $270, and a Kermes, a traditional Mexican fundraiser that involves food, dancing, live entertainment and socializing, which took place on Nov. 12. Out of the money earned from the candygrams, $80 was used to purchase tacos, rice and three flavors of aguas frescas from Chavez Super Market for the Kermes. Attendees could choose combination plates of food and drinks for $5 and under, according to Alvarado. The ladies performed traditional Mexican dances such as Folklorico, Bachata and Merengue while wearing Folklorico attire, in front of the New Union stage.

The club members have not made a decision on what they will do with the funds yet, but plan to continue fundraising for future events and workshops.

Guerreras of Empowerment has talked about creating an on-campus self-defense workshop and bringing in a guest speaker to inform women about the dangers of sex trafficking in the Bay Area. According to HeatWatch.org, a website that tracks human trafficking in collaboration with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, 80 percent of reports of human trafficking cases come from the Bay Area.

They’re also currently planning to collaborate with Academic Advising and Career Education center to host a cover letter and resume workshop for winter 2017 to help students who may not know to properly make one. Members like Soto and Farias, who consider themselves to be introverts, also hope that the club will help them become more confident dealing with people. “We have our strengths and our weaknesses and we all just push each other to explore our limits and to definitely get out there,” said Farias.

If you’re interested in becoming a member, email Guerreras of Empowerment at: [email protected].