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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2017

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Club O Makes a Splash Onto the UMW Scene

By KAY BOATNER

One might expect to find a “no boys allowed” sign posted on the door to Meeting Room 1 above the Eagle’s Nest.  The small room is crowded with about 15 girls, all of who are discussing personality types and if they feel like doing Pilates together.
The University of Mary Washington’s Women’s Club, or “O”, as it is more commonly known, held their first meeting of the spring semester on Feb. 8.
The group is led by President Jessica Thiel and Vice President Mary Waldron, both seniors at UMW.
“The purpose of our organization is meant to educate, empower and connect women on campus,” said Thiel, an international affairs major.
This past Thursday, members took the Myers-Briggs test, which is designed to provide those who take it with their specific personality formula.
“The test is a really cool, insightful way to figure out what type of person you are and how you react in certain situations,” said Waldron, an English major.  “Jessica and I took it and our results were so accurate.  We thought it was something fun for women to bond over.”
This idea of connecting women on campus is what prompted Thiel and Waldron to create the girl power group.  The pair were on a road trip to the University of Virginia when they initially thought of starting the club.
“We were stuck in the car for a few hours and started talking about how, for a school that’s about 65 percent female, there’s really no club that tries to get women together as a forum,” Waldron said.  “We decided we wanted to offer a place for women to talk, that didn’t necessarily have a political agenda.”
“We’re apolitical,” said Thiel.  “This does not mean we are non-political, it just means we won’t take an official stance on political issues.”
The meaning behind the club name “O” is representative of what the group hopes to accomplish, according to Thiel.
“The name is less about the letter O and more about its symbolism of continuity. We want to establish a network of women who address and readdress on a continual basis the issues surrounding womanhood,” Thiel said.
The club officers know that some people may not be able to commit to weekly meetings, which is why they have adopted a relaxed attendance policy.
“It’s very much an open door club.  We don’t expect people to come every week – we want them to come if they’re interested in the topic, and we know that every topic won’t hold everyone’s attention,” Waldron said.
One of the group’s meetings last semester included a very special guest speaker.
“Jessica’s mom came to speak to us about birth control,” Waldron said.  “It was really cool.  She’s a gynecologist and she gave us some really useful information.”
While some of the issues that the group tackles are controversial, like birth control, Waldron says the group isn’t about making waves.
“We do discuss hot-button issues, but we’re not trying to make a decision for people.  We just want to inform the women of Mary Washington,” Waldron said.
The group doesn’t just stick to serious topics, however.
“We know how to have fun, too,” Waldron said.  “We had a sleepover last semester, which was awesome.”
Since the club was only able to meet four times last fall, they’re working to make meetings occur on a weekly basis this semester.
This spring, the group will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, alternating which day they get together every week.
Plans for future sessions include Pilates workouts, defense classes, a scavenger hunt and workshops on women’s nutrition, emotional abuse and constructive arguing.
“I’m really excited for the scavenger hunt,” Waldron said.  “We’ll have to wait until it’s warmer though, obviously.”
The club would also like to work with other organizations at UMW.
“We would really like to team up with Take Back the Night for stuff,” Waldron said.

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