Q&A with Jill Bassett, Associate Director of Residential Life and Student Conduct
Name: Jill Bassett
Title: Associate Director of Residential Life and Student Conduct; Adjunct Professor, First Year Seminar, University of Bridgeport
Education: M.A. Women Studies, Southern CT State University; B.A. English, Southern Connecticut State University
UB Special Project: The Vagina Monologues
With a Master’s in Women’s Studies, a background in theatre, and an inner calling to promote equality for all, Jill Bassett is bringing The Vagina Monologues to the UB campus for the first time this April. The benefit reading of The Vagina Monologues at the University of Bridgeport will be one of thousands of V-Day 2015 Campaign benefits held around the world to raise funds and awareness towards ending violence against women. It is an imperative, Jill believes, and as global a matter as it is a personal one for too many.
Hear from Jill herself as she invites the UB community to join this global movement through the production of The Vagina Monologues this April.
And consider her reflections about UB and V-Day’s international One Billion Rising for Justice campaign below:
Why care about The Vagina Monologues?
V-Day’s “One Billion Rising for Justice” campaign – the largest mass action campaign in human history – is a wildly successful grassroots effort in support of the estimated one billion females on this planet who are beaten or raped during their lifetime. It’s a call to end this injustice, with local volunteers and college students producing benefit performances like The Vagina Monologues all over the world.
I care about this movement because I have three young nieces and I want to live in a world where I don’t ever need to fear them being used as a weapon of war, assaulted, or perceived as weak because they are female. I want to live in a world where they can be anything – doctors, lawyers, construction workers, police officers – because they arestrong women. Women need equal pay and respect, and until women are “Risen” to those standards, all men and women should fight, just like we fought (and are fighting) together to end other oppressions in race, religion, and beliefs.
Why at UB?
The UB community is distinct in the higher ed arena because there is a true culture of acceptance here. It’s very unique. I thrive in this environment because my lifetime advocacy is all about equality.
Here at UB, I find it intriguing that you can have a student from a Muslim background in the same space, perhaps even roommates, as a student who is Jewish. But diversity is about so much more than culture or ethnicity. Automatically people think diversity is a black and white issue (figuratively and literally). It’s so much more than that. It’s about acceptance of women versus men, of sexual preferences, of personality and temperament differences, of the athletic and the disabled. You see all that at UB. You have people coming back to school in their 40’s walking the same halls as freshman, you have classrooms filled with students from 10 different countries. You have it all.
In the Key to UB Handbook, the University of Bridgeport states that it is:
“…committed to preventing or eliminating all forms of sex-based discrimination in its education programs or activities in accordance with its commitment to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.”
As an institution, we are committed to diversity in all its forms. But we don’t just talk the talk, we live with and for diversity every day. It’s not just about meeting the above compliance code at UB. It’s what we want in a community.
What can the single, UB community bring to V-Day’s One Billion Rising for Justice Campaign – a global movement that is 17 years strong with over 10,000 events held annually all over the world?
As I mentioned, diversity is woven into the fabric of the UB community, which is the pool of talent we will draw from to perform the 15 monologues that compose the play. Students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni – all are invited and encouraged to participate, and we need the collective energy and individual insight of all.
Everyone who comes to UB is coming here to better their life – whether from another country, or from the streets of a tough neighborhood, or from a mid-life perspective. They share that optimism and hope of starting a new chapter in life, recreating yourself, being the person you want to be and know you can be. By participating in The Vagina Monologues – whether by acting, or helping out behind the scenes, or attending the performances in April – we can explore what’s out there and what’s inside us at the same time.
It’s time for the UB community to shine, with the hope that our light will light the way for others!
What’s next for UB?
I would love to see the UB community take the next level beyond acceptance and respect for diversity to understanding. What I mean by that is, it’s not enough to say, “I don’t know why that woman is covering her head with a cloth, but that’s cool. It doesn’t bother me if she wants to dress like that.” It would be better to know that she’s wearing a burka, andwhy she’s wearing it. If we can teach our students to say, “Help me understand why you do what you do,” then that’s the next level. That’s the exciting part. And I think it can happen here at UB. That’s the kind of community we can Become.