You can still support Women’s History Month from the comfort of your bed, here’s how

Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Library

Story by Felicia Parks/Contributing Writer

A month dedicated to celebrating women is facing a new reality as Middle Tennessee State University tells faculty and students to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the middle of a month full of events for and supporting women on MTSU’s campus, we find our nation in a global health crisis. As the spread of COVID-19 became a pandemic, our university was thinking quick for an appropriate response while continuing a time of celebration.

After a change of location on February 28th, the Start Smart workshop “The Power of Negotiation” faced an audience of two due to lack of registration. While in the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, Lee Anne Carmack, American Association of Understanding Women (AAUM)-Murfreesboro Branch facilitator, used the time to run through a ‘mock’ workshop. She was helping two MTSU staff members, Leslie D. Merritt, the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), and Maigan M. Wipfli, the Director of June Anderson Center (JAC), who will be teaching two of the Start Smart workshops in March to honor National Women’s History month.

National Women’s History month is a time dedicated to celebrating the contribution of women in regards to history, cultural growth, and society’s progression towards gender equality. Throughout March, MTSU planned to hold various speakers, presentations, annual events and workshops that provided education and entertainment to the public.

“It’s important to learn the history of where we as women are now… it’s really important to see where we have come from to be able to see where we are going in this next generation,” says Wipfli, Director of JAC.

The Start Smart workshop is facilitated by the AAUM as a tool for women to understand, manage and fight the gender pay gap.

“Most women in Tennessee are head of household, and it is important to become educated and aware of salary inequalities because it can cost you $500,000 over the course of your career if you are uneducated,” said Carmack.

During the workshop, we used a wide range of activities to help in proper salary negotiation. This included researching salary information for future career goals on, building sample budgets, role-playing salary negotiation with employers and little known tips for healthy financial management of your salary, such as apps to track spending.

However, this workshop and many other events are casualties of the precautions being taken in regard to COVID-19. The effect of the necessary precautions began on Wednesday, March 11th, following the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global pandemic.

In a statement released by MTSU President Sidney McPhee, he explained the university’s plan to extend Spring Break, go to remote online-learning and cancel all university events and activities until the end of March to slow the spread of the virus.

“As we take these prudent measures to reduce the risk of exposure, we are canceling all events (including official university events, student events, non-University or external events, co-sponsored events and university sporting events) through Sunday, March 29,” stated McPhee.

Since then, the cancelation of all on-campus events has been extended until further notice, in keeping with federal guidance.

Despite the events for Women’s History Month being cancelled, students can continue some of their support at home.

“It is our hope to maybe plan some other (non-Women’s History Month) events for online,” Wipfli, the Director of June Anderson Center says. “People can, however, view the Color Purple film through our partnership with the library here. Just watch for more info from us if we believe we can reach audiences with an online platform.”

For additional information about this workshop and other events cancelled during National Women’s History month, click here or email

To stay up to date on news regarding MTSU’s plans during this time, check out Sidelines’ live updated list of all changes, or visit MTSU’s coronavirus page. 

To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email

For more updates, follow us at, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life.

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