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Kayla Stinson, Shannon OBrien, Annie Booth, Anthony Beane

ENG104
Composition #2 Rough Draft
25 February 2015

Introduction/Abstract: In this research study, our group extensively studied a Ball State affiliated
student organization called Feminists for Action. We used three major methods of studying:
personal observation, whole-group survey, and selected member recorded interviews, each of
which provided similar information. We attended meetings and events that were held during the
period of study, and took photos while we were there. Group members were active participants
in the meetings and events, rather than silent observers. We started off without a definitive
research question, and absorbed information as it was interpreted through our three methods of
study. Upon looking over the survey results as well as our own observations, we noticed
common trends in opinions held by the group members. As observers, we noticed aspects of
leadership and success in the group that we felt were lacking, but werent sure if the group
themselves noticed. The interviews provided information explaining what we noticed in our
observations.

Methods:

We used three methods of observation, and obtained many similar results from each.
The common themes in our findings allowed us to settle on a final research path. Rather than
discussing what it is like to be a member of Feminists for Action, we chose to examine the inner
workings of the group, how efficient and successful the group was, and reasons that aide in
success or aspects of leadership that prohibit it.

Observation: We came to each meeting with pre-written observation sheets. Each


researcher filled out a sheet of their own. The sheets asked if we saw any definitive leadership,
how effective we found the leadership, how involved the members were, how organized the
meetings were, etc. We left space for any extra notes or questions we had during the meeting.
Survey: At the second meeting we attended, we asked the vice president to pass around
a survey/questionnaire to the entire group. It began simply, asking name, academic year, and
number of years in the group. Next, we asked favorite parts of the group, best memories, and
favorite events. Finally, and most in depth, we asked how the members felt about the leadership
and effectiveness of the organization. Each member answered all questions, most were
thoroughly answered.
Interview: We intended on conducting recorded interviews with each of the executives,
however after the first interview (of the vice president), we decided on a group interview. This
was both time-efficient and an effective way for the interviewees to exchange ideas, as well as
making them more comfortable. The questions were pre-written, but interviewers were
encouraged to go into other topics or change the order of the question when they felt it was
necessary.

Research:

The general consensus of the members of Feminists for Action seems to be that they
both enjoy the group itself and feel comfortable expressing their opinions amongst the others.
When asked what their favorite part of the group is, ten out of thirteen members said they most
enjoyed the fact that the other members of the group supported them on their opinions without
judgment and that the environment of the group leaves room for anyone, even if their opinion is
something radical that does not quite match up with the other students on campus or even in
the group. Two of the other members stated that the group was an excellent environment in

which to learn more about feminism as a whole. The last member said that his or her favorite
part was that being a part of the group felt like making a difference.
While the outcome of the survey was overwhelmingly positive, there was also a number
of members who felt that the group was slightly unorganized and could use improvement in
leadership. One member is quoted saying that she feels like were always planning or talking,
not as much doing and that getting more involved in the actual events and issues they talk
about would be a wonderful way to get more involved on campus. Another student would like to
get more involved personally in the events and with marches, rather than just talking at events,
as protesting actually feels like the group is making a difference. Other members would like to
get more involved with other groups on campus and therefore raise more awareness about the
group and its mission. In spite of a few minor challenges and complaints, the overall view of the
group is very positive. Every single one of them had a ranking of at least six out of ten on both
the organizational or leadership structure and the success of the group since joining, though a
majority had ratings of eight or nine.

Analysis:

When observing the group during one of the meetings, it was easy to get an overall feel
for the way the group was run and the attitudes of the members, even if it was an atypical
meeting. This meeting in particular featured the Student Government Association slates, and
was very time efficient. The leadership was obvious, as two members headed the discussion
and managed the technology, though only two of the four leaders were there that night.
According to a member of the group, the president has not missed a meeting in over a year and
was at a feminist conference in Chicago.
Most members of the group got involved in the discussion and, though some seemed to
lose focus on a few occasions, they mostly seemed to be interested and listening. Of all the

things I noticed, the group listened to and asked for everyones opinions, which further
emphasized the survey responses stating it was a very open and honest environment. On top of
it being a very encouraging type of group, the atmosphere of the meeting seemed to be mostly
that of friends hanging out and having fun with similar interests. It was very casual also,
everyone left when they needed to, instead of at a set ending time.
Each meeting we attended felt rather casual, however when the president and vice
president were in attendance the meetings were more organized. The executive members stood
at the front of the room with a slideshow presentation ready. The slides were minimalistic, but
full of information. They began with good news. Ball State took the groups advice and created
the new Step In Speak Up app, which aims to prevent sexual assault on campus, a very large
part of the feminist agenda. The executives also promoted Sexual Responsibility Week,
complete with free condoms, sex information, and HIV testing. Each point was met by
commentary from the members, mostly cheerful and enthusiastic. Then the slides began to
cover bad news. The topics began to shift from the feminist agenda to a more overall liberal
agenda.
President Aly Austin expressed explicit distaste for Mike Pence and his recent attempts
to remove Superintendent Glenda Ritz from her position. This statement of dislike was met with
angry words and profanity from the members, all in agreement. Austin continued to discuss new
proposed bills in Indiana that both directly and indirectly effect the feminist agenda. Members
were encouraged to contact their congressmen.
Another meeting we attended was less conventional. Members gathered to share food
as well as write their legislators about proposed or recently passed bills that they were
concerned about. The executive members gave a list of bills that related to feminism, and the
members went to work writing strongly worded letters.

Discussion:

Feminists for Action represents a group of strong-minded people who, as a whole, share
common beliefs and interests. Feminists for Action stands for the better good and equality of
society, however there is an underlying issue that was picked up on with interviews and surveys
we conducted with group members. When asked about the effectiveness of the organization,
several members noted that even though they all believed in what they were representing, they
didnt take action in the cause. This created the question of Why is this? Why are they only
discussing issues/setting goals but not acting on them?
One hypothesis is that their form of action is through self-education. They spend ample
time recruiting and encouraging members to join, making the group larger and creating a larger
audience to express the terms of their feminist agenda. Many members expressed that their
time in the group has led them to form their own opinions about feminism, showing that their
own education is important to them. While they wish they could take their knowledge to a larger
arena, or at least do so more often, they seem to agree that self-improvement is a successful
part of the group.
This is not to say that the group never gets to make a difference outside of their
meetings. In fact, selected members of FA are attending a feminist leadership conference in
Washington D.C. in late March, meeting with representatives in Congress and learning to better
their activism skills.
Feminists for Action gives people an opportunity to step up and make a change.
Members seek equality and justice and in the process of taking steps to better society, are able
to meet new people and make friends. This organization allows people to meet in a room and
enjoy sharing similar thoughts and ideas with each other, building up relationships that cannot
be replaced.