If a woman of color needs a place to vent, to feel safe or to simply be surrounded by like-minded women of color, one of the many places she can go on Wheaton’s campus is to the club Distinguished Women of Color Collective (DWOCC). DWOCC is a student-led organization where women of color—though everyone is encouraged to attend meetings—can share their experiences, receive support, learn and create change on campus.
The current president of DWOCC, Soheir Mobin ’20, has talked about how the club acts as a space where issues related to women of color can be discussed, as well as where recognition can be brought to women of color. People of color are a minority, and within that minority is the sub-minority of women of color. Thus, it is important to have a space where women of color can feel supported.
For these reasons, the club has the word “distinguished” in its name; it helps women “feel empowered by [their] color and not marginalized by it,” said Mobin. Additionally, DWOCC is a space for students to become educated about women of color issues so that they may better understand what their classmates experience, which can help build a stronger community.
DWOCC’s purpose is not only to build a sisterhood between women of color but with white women as well. Mobin emphasized the importance of having white women come to club meetings and educate themselves. Given that the majority of Wheaton’s campus is white, it is crucial that everyone becomes educated and understands the importance of standing up for their fellow students.
In terms of events, DWOCC has not been able to hold very many due to being slightly in debt. They have hosted past fundraisers and plan to have more financial resources next semester.
On Nov. 15, DWOCC is planning to have an “Un-Thanksgivings” event, illuminating why Thanksgiving is passed off as a holiday and why this is wrong. They will be talking about Native American genocide and colonization, even bringing in Native American women as speakers. Through such events, DWOCC wishes to bring more awareness to general issues for communities of color.
Throughout this year, DWOCC wants to strengthen relationships with clubs and houses on campus, such as Emerson House and Feminist Association of Wheaton (FAW). Additionally, they want to work on having a more international outreach so that all people of color issues are given equal weight. They are also attempting to create a community service activity of mentoring girls of color through a high school program.
Overall, Mobin thinks that the main challenge DWOCC will face is getting students to keep a solid membership with the club. Club meetings are attended, but there are often conflicts about time and other problems. According to Mobin, DWOCC simply wants to “build a big, broader understanding of how communities of color interact with a white majority population”—to make sure that “everyone is represented” and that “everyone feels safe within [DWOCC].”