Elefteria Xekalakis Matthys, how did the co-founders come up with the idea to establish a Women’s Chapter?
Elefteria Xekalakis Matthys: Our original goal was to maintain the Alumnae Lunch events, which are very popular. They were set up by UZH Alumni Co-President Denise Schmid, who successfully organized the events over four years. With her retirement, this stimulating discussion platform would have disappeared, and that’s why the four of us entered the fray. When we heard that we could formalize the whole idea by founding a new chapter, our enthusiasm was sky-high.
Why is a Women’s Chapter needed?
As long as there is injustice and inequality in our society, we won’t run out of topics. We need spaces that allow us to look into and examine socio-politically relevant issues in depth, both from a theoretical and practical point of view. We’d thus like to address up-to-date topics and discuss these in a controversial as well as interdisciplinary way.
What does the new chapter offer?
Our chapter is targeted at women, but also at interested men, and provides a platform for inspiring discussions about socially and politically relevant topics. We’re looking forward to seeing how our chapter develops. Our main goal is to continue the Alumnae Talks. Having regular events facilitates in-depth discussions and debates. At the same time, the Women’s Chapter will provide the opportunity to network across disciplines and meet exceptional women. Such connections provide insights into a variety of lives, career paths and specialist fields.
Are there any leading examples at other universities?
A number of universities already have Women’s Chapters. They mostly offer a platform for graduates to maintain their personal and professional networks.
How do you see the future of the chapter?
We’re open as to how the chapter will develop. Interested alumnae are more than welcome to actively shape this format, bring in their own ideas, organize further events, support each other and strengthen their bond with the University.
How do you look back on your own time at the University of Zurich?
I think I can speak for all four founding members here: Our time studying at the University was a great journey of discovery that allowed us to delve into three concentration subjects in arts and social sciences as well as the University’s wide range of activities on offer. This was certainly one of the advantages of studying before the Bologna reform. Some of us held assistant positions and carried out our own research projects. This is how our worlds grew and allowed us to broaden our horizons time and again.
Why are you committed to UZH Alumni?
There’s still so much to discover and find out! And the “women’s question” in particular has still not been resolved. It’s all the more promising to break up rigid categories and focus on all the genders and their power relationships. We also maintain very close ties with our Alma Mater and are proud to have studied at UZH. This is why we want to make a personal contribution to this extraordinary center of education and research.
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