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Thursday, May 13, 2021

New club promotes female empowerment through music

Performances, creativity, media literacy and feminism are lessons and opportunities that help young women shape their place in the music industry. This year, Bellingham Girls Rock Camp (BGRC), a summer camp that promotes female empowerment through music, is coming to Western as a new Associated Students club.

BGRC began as a senior project for Fairhaven student Casi Brown in 2012. BGRC’s Executive Director Morgan Paris Lanza said Brown drew on her “inspirational and transformative” experience with Seattle’s Rain City Rock Camp in developing the camp.

“I’ve seen girls come in very shy and reserved and by the final show, they’re sliding on their knees and rippin’ on their guitar, really just expressing their voice in so many different ways,” Lanza said.

After Brown graduated in spring 2013, Lanza said she knew BGRC needed to continue because the community needed and wanted it. Lanza took charge of the camp using the resources and blueprints that Brown had used to start it.

Since then, Lanza has directed for three years and four camp seasons.

Junior Erica Ewell (left) and senior Jeanie Marinella (right) are spearheading Girls Rock! WWU, a new club at Western. They are hoping to bring lessons taught at Girls Rock Camp to Western. // Photos by Christina Becker
Junior Erica Ewell (left) and senior Jeanie Marinella (right) are spearheading Girls Rock! WWU, a new club at Western. They are hoping to bring lessons taught at Girls Rock Camp to Western. // Photos by Christina Becker

The goal of new club, Girls Rock! WWU, is to provide a space for education and conversation around issues of media literacy and representation of people in the media based on gender, race and sexuality, Lanza said.

The camp is open to female-identified youth, ages 7 to 18. BGRC’s mission is to educate and inspire female-identified youth to be self-empowered leaders through music.

Lanza said the goal is to help more women “feel comfortable and confident stepping into that space [the music industry] that has, for so long, lacked the representation that makes it so you see yourself being a part of that space.”

This year, BGRC will have a stronger presence on campus as the AS club Girls Rock! WWU.

Lanza said it was important to maintain a relationship with Western and to continue providing opportunities for students to get involved and become self-empowered leaders.

Music education major Erica Ewell and Lanza want the club to be a student-directed space for people to go out of their comfort zone and try something new. They hope the club will help create a support system for creative risk taking.

“What I envision the club becoming is not only a way to get Western students involved with Girls Rock Camp, but a way to bring some of those activities and workshops to Western students,” Lanza said.

Along with creating a solid base for recruitment of volunteers, Lanza and Ewell hope that Girls Rock! WWU will host documentary showings, discussions and songwriting workshops. Ewell wants the camp ideals of feminism, female-empowerment through music and body-positivity to be promoted on campus.

Ewell said she believes the Girls Rock! WWU is the next step in solidifying their spot in the community.

Becoming a club was a smooth process for Girls Rock! WWU Lanza said. “We got the gavel of approval,” Lanza said.

When students look to form clubs, on-campus resources like the Club Hub are available to help students pursue their passions according to AS Club Coordinator Walter Lutsch.

Lutsch said his job is to help students with club details and forms before they are reviewed by the AS Activities Council.

The Activities Council is how the AS recognizes student organizations, said Lutsch. It’s also responsible for disbursing the $90,000 funding for clubs, Lutsch said.

The Activities Council considers the purpose and mission of a club before approving it, Lutsch said.

Lanza said the Bellingham Girls Rock camp and Girls Rock! WWU  both have a mission that is encouraging and fun, bringing the local community and the Western community together.


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