“Bras and Bonfires:” Amnesty International chapter organizes Women’s Week events

Events included a clothing swap and discussion about sisterhood on campus

Elizabeth Underwood, Arts & Life Writer

“Bras and Bonfires” was just one event Washington and Lee’s Amnesty International chapter held earlier this month to honor Amnesty International’s Women’s Week.

The array included “Bras and Bonfires,” a clothing swap, as well as a discussion about what sisterhood means to women on campus.

Social Chair of the W&L chapter of Amnesty International Rosalie Bull, ’20, said she hoped to broaden the organization’s base by hosting events, such as the sisterhood discussion, with people involved in different organizations across campus.

“What we really wanted was to have a big discussion with sororities, because one of our biggest challenges is to expand our impact,” Bull said.

“We have the same awesome group of people that generally come to all of our things,” she continued, “but what we would really like to do is bring these discussions to people involved with Greek life, involved with sports, or even people involved with academics.”

President of the W&L chapter of Amnesty International Rossella Gabriele, ’19, said she believes events like Women’s Week can start discussion in the academic world about how to affect change after graduation.

“Especially at Washington and Lee, there are so many future politicians, lawyers, and leaders of industry and government that if we can imbue this activist mindset and empathy for the other and make people think in terms of how can we be an active citizen now, then I think we have succeeded for a lot of potential for change in the long term,” Gabriele said.

Gabriele explained that the “Bras and Bonfires” event was a tribute to second-wave feminism. Participants wrote perceived societal expectations of women on index cards and then threw them in the fire to “burn social expectations.”

On March 9, a Friday Underground event involved a letter writing campaign to President Dudley, encouraging the placement of free menstrual products in every building on campus.

The following day, Amnesty hosted a clothing swap to draw attention to problems in the clothing industry, such as waste and human rights violations. Rather than buying new clothes, each person brought a few articles of clothing.

Gabriele said she hopes these events empowered the women on campus through embracing their femininity and lifting each other up.

“It was a celebration and appreciation of women on campus from all different paths,” Gabriele said.

Poster boards were displayed on the main floor of Leyburn to represent all of the different women who are leading activist movements around the world.

“We always want to bring global issues to focus within our own community,” Bull said. “Specifically, with Women’s Week, we have a cool opportunity to do that, because right now women all over the world are being so awesome. We have a lot of things to celebrate.”

Amnesty International emphasizes that all students are welcome to attend meetings and become  members of the organization.

“Our group is one that can grow and only benefit from that growth,” said Bull. “The more people we have that are engaged and offering ideas and wanting to discuss things is really a mark of success. Anyone who wants to come would be welcome!”