Womxn of Colour Network: A place to come together



The Womxn of Colour Network meets bi-weekly on Mondays from 5 to 6 p.m. in the SICTR 1133.

On campus, Bria Felix sees herself in the numbers as she sits in a classroom as one woman of color in a sea of white people. Finding community with shared experiences as a woman of color at Iowa State is hard, Felix said, and this issue led to the formation of Womxn of Colour Network (WOCN) in 2011.

“In 2011 a small group of women of color participated in a campus event that was well-intentioned but left them with a clear message that the event was not created with their needs in mind,” said Felix, a senior majoring in apparel, merchandising and design and president of WOCN. “That group of women, who were graduates at the time, created the WOCN.”

WOCN is an organization that provides a safe space for all undergraduate and graduate women of color on campus.

“Sometimes, you step back and think, ‘wow, you’re at a predominantly white institution (PWI),” said Felix. “You have to think about how you have to stand up for yourself and all these other women of color.”

Women of color on campus do not have a lot of spaces and are small in number in a lot of places, so WOCN is a place where women of color can come together, according to Felix.

Felix said the organization holds different types of meetings such as self-care, career development, mental health and general health and volunteer outings.

The organization has connections with faculty and staff on campus and works with different organizations such as Multicultural Student Affairs and Sloss House.

“I don’t think people understand that [leading an organization for womxn of colour] can be a big weight on your shoulders,” Felix said. “I feel like that’s something that we don’t even think about sometimes.”

Some of the topics discussed during meetings include what it is like dating as a woman of color at a PWI, sexual assault and abuse. WOCN also holds an annual retreat open to all women of color on campus regardless of membership.

“This is a place where we can come together and talk about experiences that we feel we relate to and connect to, and we feel comfortable in that space,” Felix said.

The organization is open to join and holds biweekly meetings on Mondays from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Student Innovation Center. They will also be at ClubFest Jan. 25.

“I always used to be nervous to go to clubs when I was young,” Felix said. “I learned that you just have to take a deep breath and go in because you never know, and, most times, you end up having fun.”

Joining the WOCN led Felix to branch out and complete an internship in Los Angeles and study abroad in London.

Felix said her favorite part of the organization is the joy it brings her as well as other members of WOCN.

“If I’m going to be honest, sometimes it’s hard for me to find joy when I’m at school, especially being at a place like here,” Felix said. “I’ve heard the same thing from some of the other members when they come to meetings and talk about how stressful being on campus or classes are.”

WOCN holds “meet and greets” that offer a break from the stresses that classes can bring. These meetings let people introduce themselves to each other, chat and snack.

“People love to talk about how that’s one of their favorite meetings, and we get to meet new members,” Felix said. “It’s fun, and I like that joy because I don’t get to experience that joy all the time.”