Commencement 2017

Thompson: The best patriarchy-smashing moments of the past 4 years

Stacy Fernandez | Asst. Feature Editor

From hosting its own branch of the Women's March to hosting the vice president, Syracuse has felt a wave of feminism over the past four years.

Throughout Syracuse University seniors’ college careers, the world has grown and vocalized its belief that women and men are unequivocal equals. The university and the city of Syracuse have been no strangers to that radical change.

Here are five feminist milestones to commemorate graduates’ past four years at SU.

Transgender activist Laverne Cox visits Syracuse University

Laverne Cox speaks at SU.

Frankie Prijatel | Senior Staff Photographer

In October 2014, the LGBT Resource Center celebrated its annual Coming Out Month, which is dedicated to the celebration and commemoration of the struggles and triumphs endured by individuals in the LBGTQ community. To headline the event, “Orange is the New Black” actress and transgender activist Laverne Cox spoke at SU. Cox made history just months before her visit, when TIME Magazine featured her on the cover of a May issue with the headline “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier.”

With the rise of President Donald Trump’s establishment and the threat to transgender rights running rampant, it is more essential than ever that Americans reflect on the dignity and bravery of people like Cox. We need to keep focusing on the central message of acceptance from her SU lecture, “Ain’t I a woman?” 

Then-Vice President Joe Biden’s “It’s On Us” campaign speech

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Syracuse.

Moriah Ratner | Staff Photographer

In case you needed an additional reminder that SU’s alumni record is bar none, former Orangeman and then-Vice President Joe Biden visited SU in November 2015 to speak on behalf of the “It’s On Us” campaign. The campaign, founded in 2014 by Biden and former President Barack Obama, was launched as an initiative to raise awareness for sexual assault on college campuses and to increase conversations about rape culture at American universities.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center estimates one of every five women in college will become victims of sexual assault, so Biden’s speech came as an essential antidote for eliminating the taboos surrounding education about and prevention of assault.

With a booming voice that commanded the attention of SU students for nearly 40 minutes, Biden proclaimed: “Have the gumption to step in, tell him, expose him, save him. Have the nerve. Look at that young woman as if she were your sister or your mother. You know it’s wrong. You know.”

2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visits Syracuse


Moriah Ratner | Staff Photographer

Back when we had faith in Americans to not vote for unabashed sexist, volatile narcissists, Clinton visited Syracuse in April 2016 ahead of the New York state primary election. Stopping for a slice of Varsity pizza and receiving greetings from SU students, Clinton proved even internationally renowned politicians are suckers for cheap, greasy pizza.

Following her visit to the Hill, Clinton appeared at the F Shed at the Central New York Regional Market to discuss manufacturing and small businesses in upstate New York.

Clinton, who also made history as the first woman presidential nominee for any major party, may not have been able to break the glass ceiling herself. But she set the stage for a generation of young girls to follow in her wake.

Syracuse University’s women’s basketball team advances to the NCAA championships


Evan Jenkins | Staff Photographer

A living testament of the power of female, SU’s 2015-16 women’s basketball team dominated the NCAA tournament and, surpassing public expectations, traveled all the way to the national championship game against UConn. While the Orange were unable to outperform the Huskies, the team still made program history — and made a name for itself.

This momentum followed into the Orange’s 2016-17 season, when the team smashed attendance records with more than 11,000 spectators at its home game against Notre Dame.

And that, ladies, is how you fight like a girl.

Syracuse hosts its own Women’s March


Stacy Fernandez | Asst. Feature Editor

As more than half a million people gathered in the nation’s capital to march against the inauguration of President Donald Trump, more than 2,000 people gathered in downtown Syracuse to host their own protest.

As protesters stationed themselves outside the James Hanley Federal Building, Syracuse joined the ranks as one of 673 cities to host marches calling for action against the newly instated Trump administration.

Donna Moore, the organizer of the Syracuse event, recognized the inclusion of several feminist interests groups including Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ community and environmental protection and health care groups.

“We will not be silenced,” Moore said. “We will not back down.”

As graduates cross over from college to adulthood, remember the world needs more people like you. Though an abundance of progress has been made, there’s still much more to do. So strap on your boots, pump up those fists and repeat with me: We Can Do It.

Kelsey Thompson is a sophomore magazine journalism major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at


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