The Women in Housing series is a month-long project featuring the voices, stories, and experiences of women who currently or formerly work in housing and residence life. Today's post was written by Allie Triglianos.
As a graduate student, I'm constantly asked, "How is this role contributing to your experience?" To me, being a woman in housing means celebrating every victory. Each day, society reminds us that women are not important. When breaking down women into further demographics like race, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, the weight of society’s disapproval can be unbearable. Working as a hall director in a residential area entirely for women has taught me that every woman and their victories are important and should be celebrated. With the number of women's colleges decreasing every year, communities like the one I'm a part of have shown me how important shine theory is and how to spread that message to every woman I meet.
I first learned about shine theory last year from another woman in housing graduate student (now professional). She mentioned it and told me that it’s a large part of her identity as a feminist. While reading the original article from journalist Ann Friedman, I found myself mentally snapping and verbally agreeing (there was a lot of YASSS) with everything she wrote. She highlighted the importance of women supporting women, surrounding yourself with successful women, and how celebrating one woman’s success is vital because it’s a success for all of us.
I’ve taken on this perspective of “women supporting women” while supervising my staff. I currently supervise six incredible women as they navigate their role as a Resident Assistant. I frequently tell them that “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” For me, supervising goes beyond just the role that a student takes on. I know that this position is only one small part of WHO they are in this world. My staff are journalists, teachers, psychologists, political activists, and policy makers. These women are interpreting the world they live in and redefining it to be inclusive and welcoming. Thankfully, they are bringing these perspectives into their work as RAs. Through programs that encourage affirming each other to staff meetings where they feel comfortable opening up to the rest of the staff and I, my RAs consistently remind me why I’m a feminist and why I love working in housing.
I need feminism because I worry for the women in my hall when walking across a dark campus. I need feminism because society tries to silence women of color, trans women, and queer women. I need feminism because as a queer, disabled woman I must demand that my voice be heard by those who hold more privilege than me. I need feminism because I need those with privilege, myself included, to understand how that privilege can be used to create equity.
I love working in housing because daily I get to see women embrace their womanhood and their feminism, and sometimes I have a direct impact on helping them realize that. I love working in housing because it puts me on the front lines of the revolution with my students. I love working in housing because I get to see students at their most vulnerable moments and at their greatest achievements.
To me, being a woman in housing is all about shine theory. Whether you’re surrounding yourself with successful women, or educating women to be forces of nature that must be reckoned with, empowering each other is key to our overall success. I know that I’m a better housing professional because of the incredible women I get to call my coworkers and my staff. I’m empowered because I help to empower them. I am a feminist because my students need me to be. I shine because they shine.
Allie Triglianos (she/they) is a second-year graduate student at Rutgers University – New Brunswick. This May, she will receive a master’s of education in College Student Affairs and eagerly anticipating where the #SASearch will take her. In her spare time, Allie enjoys collecting vinyl records, going to hardcore shows like a true #SAPunx, and smashing the patriarchy.
The Women in Housing series is sponsored by Adirondack Solutions.