| 03.18.2018

Honoring activism


Virginia Wolf Awards to be presented Wednesday

Director of the University of Idaho Women’s Center Lysa Salsbury said it’s a good time of the year to honor and celebrate individuals who have worked tirelessly for gender equality.

Salsbury said her favorite way to do so is through the Virginia Wolf Distinguished Service Awards ceremony.

Lysa Salsbury

Lysa Salsbury

“It’s typically given to someone who has really shown above and beyond activism for gender equity,” Salsbury said. “For not just raising awareness, but actual action to challenge specific issues that contribute to the marginalization and oppression of women and other underrepresented populations … Actively doing service in all of these areas to try and challenge the issue of gender inequality and raise awareness and contribute to ending that.”

The Virginia Wolf Distinguished Service Awards will be awarded to a student, staff and a community member at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Vandal Ballroom of the Bruce Pitman Center, formerly the Student Union Building.

Virginia Wolf was a professor of physical education at UI from 1964-1982 and was active in equity issues on campus.

“She chaired the Women’s Caucus and was instrumental in lobbying for more equitable conditions on campus, including the founding of the Women’s Center,” Salsbury said.

The Virginia Wolf Awards have been awarded every year since 2002 except for one year, and recognition has been given to women, men and gender nonconforming individuals. Winners are given a plaque, flowers and are celebrated for their work.

The Women’s Center does not decide who receives the awards, Salsbury said. The selection committee is comprised of past winners of the award.

The nomination process was open to anyone from January to March. To nominate someone, a short essay was required addressing the length and scope of the nominee’s active participation, a record of leadership and accomplishment in advocating for gender issues and proving the nominee demonstrated courage and commitment to challenging misogyny and sexism, Salsbury said. Nominees are judged on a point system based on these categories.

“In my experience, everyone who is nominated for this award is deserving of it,” Salsbury said “It’s very hard to choose.”

The 2013 staff recipient Virginia Solan is on the judging panel this year and said it’s hard to choose the winners. Solan said she judges based on how dedicated a nominee is — those who are active for the right reasons, not for recognition.

“For me, it’s about when I can see someone’s commitment to serve and social change,” Solan said. “It’s someone that’s always there, always volunteering, being vulnerable, displaying real courage in everyday life.”

The reception is free and anyone is welcome to attend, but the Women’s Center asks for an emailed RSVP, as refreshments will be served.

“This time of year is a really important time to recognize and celebrate people,” Salsbury said. “It’s really inspiring. Most of the people who get this award are not the people that would expect this type of acknowledgement.”

Kelsey Stevenson can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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