Last Wednesday, Shades of Pearls, a new campus organization for minority women, hosted a Pillow Talk with the Pearls event. Surrounded by blankets and pillows and decked in their pajamas, these women discussed issues of female health and sexuality.
For the event, Shades of Pearls brought in Erin Smiley of Planned Parenthood to educate the women about female health and to facilitate a discussion about the body and sexuality. Women shared their personal stories and talked about topics such as safe sex, birth control and communication with your partner. The event was meant to bring into conversation topics that may be considered taboo and allow open conversation.
“I enjoyed it,” said O’Jeanique Washington, class of 2017 and a member of the Pearls. “I think you can never know enough about sexual education, so I came into it with an open mind. I learned a lot.”
The event was sponsored by the Pearls, an organization created to provide minority women on campus with a safe, supportive environment. There are only 136 minority women on Wittenberg’s campus, according to Dean of Students Casey Gill. The organization was begun by NaQuaina Moore, First Year Success Adviser, when she learned about Minority Men Strive to Succeed (M2S2). Through collaboration with Area Coordinator Brian Richardson, she began developing a female counterpart.
“As a Success Adviser, I began to see the need for such organization,” Moore said. “Shades of Pearls was created out of a specific need to improve academic GPAs, aid in retention and create a sense of belonging for minority female students at Wittenberg University.”
The Pearls already have 33 members. The group hopes to forge sisterly bonds and provide support for each other in a primarily white campus. Sophomore Kamyia Fletcher, president of the Pearls, got the idea from a friend of hers on another campus who organized a similar group. The group hosted Keeping It Real Talks to promote diversity and understanding.
“It’s scary to come in and not see a lot of faces that look like you,” Fletcher said. “I hope it becomes huge on campus. I hope every minority woman that comes here starts off here.”
Fletcher stated that the goals of the organization involve academic support, community service, support and sisterhood. Already, the Pearls hold study tables for their members and provide help among the members. The group is hoping to organize more events such as the Pillow Talks discussion in the future to promote the club on campus. While the group is yet to organize community service events, the club is working towards organizing these events in the future.
Fletcher hopes that the Pearls continue to be a dynamic force on campus. She plans on expanding the programming in the next few years to encompass more leadership opportunities, academic growth and community service experiences.