Should members be required to hold a two- or four-year college degree to be a member? With women making up more than half the students on American college campuses, has the American Association of University of Women accomplished its mission?
These are a couple of the questions members of the Durango Branch of AAUW discussed at their meeting and potluck Monday evening. The event took place in Bowman Hall, in the Unitarian Universalist complex.
At AAUW's national meeting this summer, revisions to the bylaws will be a topic of discussion and put on the ballot. Durango members found themselves torn between wanting to expand membership and wondering if eliminating the concept of a degree that has been the core of its requirements will dilute or diminish some of the projects it holds dear.
Just as is the case at the national level, Durango members struggled with both sides. AAUW has an aging membership. Allowing anyone who supports its mission of achieving equity for women and can pay the dues to join could bring new blood and increased income. That may make a significant difference and ensure the future of the organization.
Yet members also worry that not requiring at least some college, with its attendant higher-thinking skills, might completely change the face of AAUW from what its founders intended.
And while the number of women on college campuses now surpasses the number of men, they will still graduate into a workplace where women's pay is not on a par with men. Not to mention the fact that instances of sexual harassment and hostile work environments have AAUW's legal advocacy arm involved in about 100 court cases across the country at any given time.
All members agreed that college enrollment is just one success. Adapting the teaching of math and science to the way girls learn to bring them onto a par with boys in those high-paying job sectors is just one of several areas that still concern them.
The changing economy presents another challenge to members of the Durango branch. One of its projects is providing at least one scholarship per semester for a nontraditional student at Fort Lewis College. As is the case with other endowments, the Virginia Shoser Scholarship Fund, which is managed by the Fort Lewis College Foundation, has taken a hard hit from the dropping stock market.
Because students need the help now more than ever, AAUW members decided to give their scholarship for the 2009-10 academic year out of their treasury while they wait for the endowment to recover.
All of this heavy thinking was fueled by a potluck. Members enjoyed an array of salads and other dishes, including Sharon Gordon's lentil dal and rice, Cheryl Jackson's chicken with dried fruit and a killer chocolate torte prepared by Marilyn Garst.
The best birthdays are filled with greetings from family and friends for Sweetie Marbury, Lee Campbell, Kaitylyn Duffy, Darren Wales, McKenna Franzen, Connie Zollinger, Laura Shelton, Leah McCune, Neil Bourjaily, Marj Cornwell, Linda West, Trudy Mickel, Thomas Boness, Courtney Cannon, Barb Conn, Velena Eggleston, Steve Wolf and Linda Yoos.
Candelaria is training lawyers and police officials and doing public service projects. For example, apparently the men in Zambia believe the way to show their wives affection is to beat them. They think if they don't beat their wives, the wives will be upset.
So Candelaria has done a media blitz, including being a guest on call-in radio shows, conducting several interviews with all three of the country's newspapers and even making an appearance on "Kwacha Good Morning," the equivalent of the "Today Show," on the issue.
He hopes he's making progress because his female students have told him they do not believe they need to be beaten to be loved.
In the "It's a small, small world" category, Candelaria had a business trip to Kenya, where he met up with Rob Bowman, another Durango High School alum - Class of 1979 - who is in charge of the same type of program for the Justice Department in that country. Bowman's mother, Mary Ruth Bowman, was Candelaria's health teacher at Miller Junior High - making it an even smaller world.
For those who complain about Internet access here in rural Colorado, Candelaria says it costs about $1,200 to install and runs from $150 to $200 per month where they are in the capital city, Lusaka.
Candelaria's blog includes all of the culture shock and wonder that come with being in a place that is so different and so far away. The photos alone are worth checking it out.
You can visit his blog at http://cande
Candelaria is the nephew of Chris Wiggins, who clued me in on our native son's adventure.
If you never pass up a deal on a good book, the Friends of the Library Bookstore at the new Durango Public Library is now open.
The hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The store is closed Sundays.
The Friends of the Library would like to increase the number of hours the store is open, because every book sale adds to the funds the organization has to expand the collection and support programs at the library. If you're interested in volunteering, call Sheryl Ayers at 385-4557.
Enjoying what may be the last sunny anniversaries for a few days are Virgil and Mackie Headrick and Daryl and Marilyn Metz.
Here's how to reach me: email@example.com; phone 375-4584; fax 259-5011; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.