The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 8, 2013

Students present scholarly research at conference

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer


Who knew there could be a feminist perspective on something as universally devastating as massive flooding?

As it turns out, said college student Tiffany Zilka, there is.

Zilka’s presentation, “Feminist Perspective on the Flooding Red River of the North: Students and Flood of 2009,” was part of the second Minnesota Conference of Undergraduate Scholarly and Creative Activity at Minnesota State University Monday.

Zilka looked at research on gender and social norms with regard to natural disasters, as well as conducted interviews with 14 female students up impacted by the Red River flooding in 2009.

“Women are more likely to be impacted by natural disasters,” she said, due to the roles they tend to take on.

Zilka learned women are more likely to be “altruistic,” meaning taking on tasks such as sand-bagging and taking care of the elderly. “Civil virtue” is more common among men, meaning managerial positions in natural disasters.

Women also are more likely to experience a high level of stress when their social support system is negatively affected. And they are more likely to experience discrimination during the events.

“Like if a woman was sand-bagging and was asked by a male to go make sandwiches,” said Zilka, a senior.

Katherine Bullock, a sophomore, presented on the timely subject of anti-bullying laws and suicide research related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Using reports in scholarly journals and surveys, she found that the LGBT community are three times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexuals. Bullying has a great deal to do with these incidents, she said.

“Bullying seems to be very prominent (among) LGBT youth,” she said.

More than 80 percent of LGBT youth in grades K-12 reported being bullied.

“That is a lot,” she said. “It is higher than heterosexual students.”

The transgender community is among those most victimized. Bullock’s research shows, among K-12 youth studied, 76 percent reported being verbally harassed by peers; 35 percent were physically assaulted by them; 5 percent were physically assaulted by faculty; and 31 percent were verbally assaulted by faculty.

Her research also showed that of the students physically assaulted by faculty, 79 percent attempted suicide. “I knew it was different between heterosexuals and LGBT; I didn’t know the magnitude of how different it was,” Bullock said.

She said in states with anti-bullying laws in place, there were fewer incidents of bullying.

The conference included students from colleges and universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Presentations ranged from the everyday lives of Jewish children during the Holocaust to breastfeeding resources to evaluating the positives and negatives of technology in the classroom.