To an unknowing observer, the women and events coming to Cal Poly this week may not have much in common on the surface. All of them, though, will grace campus through Saturday to venerate women’s history month because of their shared bonds confronting injustice while empowering women.

Speakers such as poet Mahogany Browne and filmmaker Barbara Martinez Jitner will be welcomed, while the documentary “The Shape of Water” and the film festival LUNAFEST will further explore various women’s issues.

“We try to have a really broad range of events to represent the accomplishments and achievements of all kinds of women rather than just focusing on the suffragette movement or something like that,” said Mariana Lightman, coordinator of Sexual Assault Free Environment Resource programming.

In order to offer an eclectic, all-encompassing spectrum of guests and presentations, Cal Poly Women’s Programs and Services collaborated with The Multicultural Center, explained Samantha Hunt, psychology senior and WPS education coordinator.

“We wanted it to be pretty diverse in nature,” Hunt said. “Overall, what we’d like to do is bring women together, to provide perspective and show ways women can help each other.”

Two such endeavors, the screening of “The Shape of Water” and Browne’s poetry reading, begin tonight.

“The Shape of Water” examines the experiences of activist women faced with worldwide oppression.

The film, which Lightman calls a “really inspirational story,” is narrated by Susan Sarandon and will be shown in Bishop’s Lounge at 7 p.m.

“We didn’t want to lose the activist nature of women’s history,” Hunt said. “It’s about women working toward some cause they’re passionate about.”

Browne, the author of two self-published poetic works (“Soul Systa’s Elixir” and “Drifting Under the Influence”) and producer of two musical albums, will be the featured poet at Another Type of Groove in the Performing Arts Center Pavilion at 7 p.m.

“It would be one thing to just say she has an incredibly strong voice, and that she’s an incredibly strong woman, but she has an incredibly strong voice as a woman,” said economics senior Skylar Olsen, student coordinator of ATOG. “As a mother and an activist, she’s a strong woman who’s made something of herself independently.”

Jitner will discuss her revelations while formulating her documentary “La Frontera,” for which she posed as a factory worker on the U.S.-Mexico border to investigate poverty, sexual abuse and murder.

Her lecture, “Femicide in Juarez: The Real Story of Bordertown,” begins at 8 a.m. Thursday in the Vista Grande Café following a breakfast starting a half-hour beforehand.

“Because there are so many women in that one area, they’re very vulnerable, so Juarez has a high number of kidnappings,” said Joy Harkins, Community Center coordinator. “I think students will gain that knowledge and have an opportunity to reflect on issues affecting women across the globe.”

Although the breakfast is already filled to capacity and the latter installment is largely geared toward staff and faculty, Harkins said, students interested in attending the lecture should RSVP through Liz Cofer at 756-0327.

While Jitner will primarily address her research pertaining to the documentary, nine short films will be showcased during the LUNAFEST Film Festival premiering in Chumash Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets, proceeds from which will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund, are $6 for students and $10 for general admission and can be purchased at the Women’s Center or online at

All other events are free and open to the public.

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