Her Campus celebrates women with Topics and Hot Chocolate

Alex Scruggs | News Editor

The Her Campus magazine chapter on campus held a Topics and Hot Chocolate event one evening where females could get together, drink hot chocolate and talk about issues that matter to them in a safe space.

About 30 people attended for the event in the James and Lynnhaven River rooms last Wednesday, the vast majority of whom were women.

“Women are killing it this year,” said Kieran Rundle, a contributing writer for Her Campus ODU who was taking pictures at the event. Much of what was discussed concerned national womens’ issues that took place within the last year.

Contraceptives were brought up several times throughout the two-hour-long event. “Keep your hands off my birth control,” Petra Rich, Her Campus ODU’s president and founder said of our country’s lawmakers as she spoke in front of the crowd.

Hoping to give women on campus a voice during the “Topics” discussion, Rich said, “Her Campus is focused on female empowerment.”

The highlight of Topics and Hot Chocolate was a discussion about womens’ abuse and human trafficking led by Nikki Duncan, a client outreach and court advocacy specialist at the H.E.R. (Help and Emergency Response) Shelter. “It’s a heavy job, but somebody has to do it,” said Duncan speaking of aiding victims of human trafficking. “If we don’t stand up for them, who will?”

Touching on a vast majority of topics that effect college-aged women, Duncan noted at one point that one out of every four women in the room was statistically likely to be a victim of sexual assault to some degree during their time at ODU.

Led by Rich, during “Topics” the audience also discussed a wish for more safety on campus, especially at night. Some women came up with the idea for a campus alert app, which would consist of real-time warnings by users. “Like a ‘Yik Yak’ app for safety,” said one audience member, referencing a now-offline social-media app which allowed users to post in a feed viewable within a five-mile radius of their position.

“We can make it happen, we have the power,” said Rich.

In addition to dining off a table of free baked-goods, attendees of Topics and Hot Chocolate were given a raffle ticket upon entering. “I’m here to win something,” said audience member Karleen Cottrell. A wide assortment of items, such as planners, ODU T-shirts and hairspray were raffled off by Her Campus ODU’s Marketing Director and Mace & Crown’s Arts and Entertainment Editor, Lindsey Lanham.

Contributing writer Paula Phounsavath outlined the importance of Her Campus, and why she writes for it. “It’s important to voice our perspective on what there is in life. If I spread my message, maybe women will be empowered.”

Women’s empowerment was certainly a motif for the evening. Many audience members appeared to walk in to “Topics” with a shy look on their face. But after a while, many women were actively participating in the discussion on things such as President Trump, net neutrality, campus police and much more.

At the end of the evening, people around the room volunteered to share their highest and lowest moments of the year, with one woman receiving a particularly loud ovation from the audience after sharing that she would be graduating in less than two weeks, lending proof to a statement Rich made earlier, “Everybody in this room can do great things.”