IGNITE sparks new meaning of the word “activism”

Cara McCarthy / THE GATEPOST

Anyone who’s been paying attention to social media lately has probably heard of a small, recently founded club on campus – IGNITE.

A national organization dedicated to preparing the next generation of women political leaders, IGNITE has found its way to Framingham State’s campus.

Under the leadership of President Stephanie Bennett and Vice President Erin Johnson, IGNITE is well on its way to becoming an impactful club in FSU’s lineup.

Last year, Bennett was scrolling through Instagram when she stumbled upon a post for the Oakland, California-based organization.

Bennett said she had never seen an organization that was “geared toward young women in politics” before. She knew the community did not have a similar club on campus, so she sought to bring it to FSU.

According to IGNITE National’s mission statement, IGNITE “encourages young women to advocate and lobby for issues they care about.”

Framingham’s chapter of the organization has already gotten underway with this mission by holding a “Period-Packing Event” Sept. 26.

Bennett noticed the issue of “period poverty” that plagued campus. After conducting a survey last spring, IGNITE found that 73% of their respondents could not afford menstrual products or had problems acquiring them.

IGNITE saw this as an opportunity to use its position to advocate for the women on campus – students, staff, and faculty alike – who do menstruate.

Johnson said IGNITE aims for “more advocacy for people on campus.” She believes people want to be involved in politics, but don’t always have an outlet to do so.

“I think the best way to get people involved in what’s going on in the world is to give them that outlet,” Johnson added.

IGNITE meets earlier in the day  in the CIE. Bennett said it plans meetings according to the University free period to make it more accessible to students – especially commuters.

She added students have approached members of IGNITE expressing interest in joining the organization, but couldn’t wait the extra two hours between classes and their original 7 p.m. meeting time.

“So, we made our meeting times to accommodate commuters, so it’s more accepting of their schedules,” Bennett said.

Bennett and Johnson would like to make it clear that while IGNITE is geared toward the political activism of women, the club is open to anyone and they encourage everyone who cares about politics to join.

Alex Backer, a junior and member of IGNITE, said being a part of the club is “different” from anything he has ever experienced – especially being a man in a woman-focused group.

He said, “You’re a minority in a group that is majority women – and that’s awesome.”

Backer added, “You get to empower women. You get to give them a platform to talk about the issues that go unnoticed in society, and I love it.”