To some, the word feminist is an obsolete title like suffragette or abolitionist, but Celestina Billington, the president of UH’s Student Feminist Organization, wants you to think differently.
Students voted SFO as the Best Student Organization this year, the org prides itself on inclusivity and tolerance. Since its founding in 2009, it has expanded to reach out to students who may not know what feminism entails or what a feminist looks like.
“I was having a hard time making friends as a freshman commuter student, so I wanted to join something social,” Billington, who was voted Best Student Leader, said. “Feminism has always been a topic of interest to me, so when I found out about the meetings, I was excited to go.”
Billington rose through the ranks quickly, becoming a junior officer soon after joining.
“As president, my focus has been to broaden our outreach by hosting large scale events on and off campus,” Billington said. “I want everyone to know about us and feel welcome to join.”
In the past, she arranged for SFO officers to attend the Civil Liberties and Public Policy conference in New Hampshire.
“Personally speaking, my goal with Student Feminist Organization has been to sustain a platform at UH for those who often go unheard by our local bureaucratic systems of government and education,” Billington said.
She also wants students to know that anyone can be a feminist.
“The focus of SFO is to provide a safe space wherein students can discuss political issues and learn about intersectionality,” Billington said. “We welcome people of all genders, nationalities, race, sexual expression and religion. It has always been important to us that our club be open to everyone, and the diversity of our members reflects that. As a progressive organization, we preach tolerance while encouraging discussion.”
SFO holds meetings every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. in the Women and Gender Resource Centeron different topics relating to feminism, such as comprehensive sex education, voter education and women in the art world.
The organization also hosted guest speakers from Texas Freedom Network, Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies program. They fundraise for the Lilith Fund, which is a Texas organization that assists Texans in exercising their fundamental right to abortion by removing barriers to access.
This year, SFO will be hosting its largest event yet: the Sexuality Soiree.
“The purpose of this event is to tackle the stigma around unconventional bodies, women’s right to choose, and LGBTQIA by celebrating everyone’s uniqueness and beauty.”
Billington said feminism should involve everyone acknowledging their personal experiences and worldviews, while also remembering that not all experiences are shared.
“It means respecting and advocating for human rights to safety, education, healthcare and basic living necessities,” Billington said.
“(Feminism is) acknowledging the histories of women worldwide and demanding that we keep moving forward in the fight for equality everywhere.”