Berkeley College Republicans held an open forum on feminism Thursday night, attracting students with varying political affiliations to discuss several issues, including the gender wage gap and women in the workforce.
The forum took place during BCR’s regular weekly meeting and was led by four female BCR members. Attendees shared statistics regarding the wage gap and said they believed the issue was misrepresented in the media. During the meeting, BCR members said they believed statistics on women’s equality are misleading because they don’t account for other factors, such as maternity leave, job preference, job tenure and hours worked per week.
The event opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a brief political update given by BCR member Naweed Tahmas about current government proceedings.
At the meeting, BCR President Jose Diaz shared a history of feminism, including the Women’s Suffrage Movement, Civil Rights Movement and third-wave feminism to set the context of the meeting.
Campus senior and BCR member Megan Myers was one of the leaders of the forum. According to Myers, BCR members often have different viewpoints, so BCR decided to host the event to open the discussion to other opinions.
“(This event is) run by women in the chapter — not run by white males,” Myers said. “This event is breaking more barriers within the chapter by hosting more events for women in particular.”
About 123 people said they were interested in the event on Facebook. Myers added that the location of the event had to be moved because of the expected large turnout. But about 30 people actually ended up attending the event Thursday.
Diaz said feminism is an important topic to discuss, adding that he thought it wasn’t discussed often enough.
He explained that many outlets don’t offer a critical analysis of feminist issues, which prompted him to host a debate on the topic.
“I think it went well,” Diaz said. “Everyone respected one another, and I think it was a productive meeting.”
Some attendees, however, expressed concerns about the event.
Campus sophomore Ali Ahmed, who was an active participant during the debate, said he believed that discourse can be productive if people approach it with an open mind. He noted how both BCR and Cal Berkeley Democrats hold meetings where people of similar viewpoints defend their own beliefs rather than consider alternative opinions.
Caiden Nason, vice president of membership for Cal Dems, said he was worried that some BCR members were not as informed about these issues.
“I think that if people are knowledgeable on the issue, discourse is great,” Nason said. “But there’s an inherent issue with discourse in which one side is speaking from a place where they haven’t educated themselves on what’s being discussed.”