The University of Arizona’s Women’s Plaza of Honor could be getting a new commemorative bench in the coming months to honor the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The UA’s Women's Studies Advocacy Council began a fundraising campaign soon after Ginsburg’s death on Sept. 18, 2020, to honor her life and legacy with a memorial bench in the plaza. They hope to raise $15,000 for the cause, according to WOSAC’s board president and UA alumna, Mel Blumenthal.
"Justice Ginsburg had immeasurable contributions to women's rights, gender equity, you know, minority rights, LGBTQ+ rights," Blumenthal said. "I just really wanted to be able to have a space for the local community to be able to honor her and her contributions. And there's no better place to do that than the Women's Plaza of Honor.”
The bench will feature Ginsburg quotes, photos and decorative tiles by Santa Theresa Tile Works, a local women-owned business, according to Leigh Spencer, WOSAC’s program coordinator and UA alumna.
The fundraising campaign has various donation tiers that allow donors to contribute to the design of the bench. A $250 donation will give the donor a commemorative tile, while a $500 donation lists the donor’s name on the bench and a $1,000 donation grants the donor a large center tile piece on the bench, according to Blumenthal.
However, donations as small as $5 are accepted and will get donors listed as contributors on the project. WOSAC wanted a way to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to participate in the fundraising campaign regardless of donation size, according to Blumenthal.
WOSAC hopes to receive more donation pledges throughout March to honor Ginsburg for Women’s History Month.
“Of course, there's always a timeframe [to complete the fundraiser] in mind, but I want to make sure we don't rush it because I really think it would be a meaningful community event if we could do an unveiling of this bench when people were able to be on campus again,” Spencer said.
If WOSAC reaches its fundraising goal of $15,000, the Ginsburg bench could be installed within three months of the end of the fundraiser, according to Spencer.
Aside from the Ginsburg fundraiser, WOSAC is the “fundraising arm and advocacy arm” for the UA’s department of Gender and Women’s Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, according to Blumenthal.
Formed in 1986, WOSAC has grown to nearly 200 members and is always seeking new members to help serve as a liaison between the department of Gender and Women’s Studies programs and the local community. UA student and faculty memberships start at $25, according to Spencer.
The organization hosts various events to raise money and promote the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Some of these events include Fiesta Storytelling, where individuals share stories focusing on feminism, empowerment and solidarity. As well as Lunafest, a short-film festival featuring films created by women for women, according to WOSAC’s website.
The funds raised by WOSAC’s events go back into the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies community by funding orientation and recruiting events, as well as research travel expenses, according to Spencer.
For the Ginsburg fundraiser campaign, all donations will go exclusively to the commemorative bench, as WOSAC stated that “Ruth Bader Ginsburg deserves to be remembered and celebrated everywhere,” according to their Facebook page.
“We really want this [Ginsburg bench] to be a community effort," Blumenthal said. "And we are inviting the community at large to participate in this. We really want this, you know, to be something that is for everyone. Even though it's on campus, this isn't just for the university. This is for everyone in the Tucson community. This is for everybody locally to be able to honor Justice Ginsburg.”
For more information about the Ginsburg fundraiser, visit the Women’s Plaza of Honor website or for more information about WOSAC, visit WOSAC’s website or contact their program coordinator, Leigh Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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