FAU’s Feminist Graduate Student Association: Bridging the Gap Between Academia and Activism

FGSA is a student organization that invites students to join them in a safe space to learn and discuss about feminism.


Courtesy of FGSA.

Isabella Mohammed, Contributing Writer

The Feminist Graduate Student Association (FGSA) is an intersectional feminist student organization at FAU that aims to promote critical feminist discourse on campus by sponsoring conferences, panels, lectures, workshops and other academic and non-academic events. 

FGSA meets virtually once a month. They use Instagram updates to share meeting dates and times and any other relevant information pertaining to the meetings. The executive board aims to meet privately once a week.

By providing accessibility to feminist principles through conversational opportunities and a safe space for tough discussions, the FGSA advocates for feminist issues.

“FGSA promotes the idea that you know, feminism is for everyone. Everyone deserves equal treatment… that’s, or I should say equitable treatment. And at our core, that’s what we advocate for. Feminism is for everyone and everyone deserves community to be heard,” shared Cassidy Barnett, co-president of FGSA.

Dani Orias, the graduate student liaison for the FGSA, expressed that the club is a community for people in multiple fields of study who share similar passions and common interests in feminism and justice activism, a type of activism that aims for the promotion of social justice and the opposition of inequality, oppression, and discrimination.

“I think having a community to take action when things are happening has been really helpful, whether it’s the group chat or whether it’s in a meeting, just knowing that you have people that are kind of sharing similar thoughts and want to take action,” stated Orias.

Barnett, Orias, and Cope all share the central idea that community is one of the benefits of the club.

Cassidy Barnett and Morgan Cope, co-presidents, tabling at the breezeway.

“It is the feeling of the community and then just feeling fulfilled knowing that there’s people who want FGSA to exist,” stated Barnett.

Orias is currently a graduate student in comparative studies with a focus on women, gender, and sexuality studies. She joined FGSA to meet new students in a virtual space. She is also interested in writing for FGSA’s student publication, The Feminist Agenda.

The Feminist Agenda accepts submissions from students and provides a safe space that allows a feminist mindset to be documented and published.

“It’s just a nice place to publish student work that we view as academic and scholarship, but maybe it typically wouldn’t be,” explained Barnett.

Despite its name, the FGSA is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Barnett is expected to graduate this upcoming summer semester with a master’s degree in communication and multimedia studies with a focus on women, gender, and sexuality studies. She joined the FGSA because of her passion for feminist causes and desire to challenge herself to get more involved on campus.

Morgan Cope, a current graduate candidate in psychology, shares the title of co-president along with Barnett. She joined FGSA to be part of a group that discusses feminist ideas since she feels that Florida can be unpredictable with these subjects.

FGSA hosts symposiums and bigger conferences that encourage all-inclusive critical thinking. A recent symposium was focused on abortion. 

Rabbi Barry Silver, a guest speaker at their abortion symposium.

“When we had the abortion symposium we talked about activities on civil discourse and how to take different perspectives on social issues, how to communicate, and show empathy with other people,” Cope said.

Their latest event was a virtual conference about intersectional environmentalism, a movement that recognizes the intersections of environmental justice. The conference also touched on social justice, intersectional activism, and environmental activism. Intersectional activism is a form of activism that targets the interactions and overlap of oppression and marginalization, whereas environmental activism is used to describe the activities and efforts targeted at protecting the environment.

“I think the role the FGSA plays is sort of a liaison and a connector to or for people on campus to see like feminist events going on. We’re sort of also like a hub for just knowing what’s going on, on campus with feminist issues and, you know, in South Florida and nationally as well,” expressed Barnett. 

Barnett, Cope, and Orias all hold leadership positions in the FGSA, which not only provides them with valuable and new experiences but also leaves them with a sense of gratification. 

“I’d always been very involved in the principles and ideas of it, but this was kind of the first action I took to become part of an organized group. You’re not just stewing on issues, you’re planning an event about it, you’re getting words out, you’re distributing flyers, so really, it provides a place for your energy to go instead of indulgence,” stated Cope.

This was the first feminist association that Cope has ever participated in. She expressed that it is rewarding being a co-president of FGSA, especially when they were able to successfully put on an event that was a safe space for people to attend and have a meaningful time. 

Barnett says the goal of FGSA is to push through the hesitancy and fear surrounding these stigmatized topics by shamelessly promoting their message and connecting feminists around campus. 

“There has been a demonization of the word feminist and what it means to other people. And our goal is to never exclude anyone from a definition or our organization,” said Cope. “Our organization is meant to encapsulate and include, and never to ostracize or demonize.”

To learn more about FGSA, visit their website or email them at [email protected]

Isabella Mohammed is a contributing writer at the University Press. For more information on this story or others, reach out to her at [email protected].