WINK spreads positive messages on Occidental’s bathroom mirrors and in uplifting group environment

WINK (Women Inspiring iNner Kindness) adorn campus restrooms with positive messages at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Bella Fabiani/The Occidental

Women Inspiring iNner Kindness (WINK) is a new club in the midst of establishing itself on campus, with the goal of creating a supportive community for women-identifying individuals according to e-board treasurer Isabella Auffenorde (junior).

“The mission of WINK is to destigmatize mental health and to give women extra support in a place where they can feel like they can talk about the struggles they’ve had together,” Kaufman Butler said (sophomore), committee chair of the WINK e-board.

Treasurer of WINK (Women Inspiring iNner Kindness), Isabella Auffernorde (junior), discusses the positive messages posted in campus restrooms at Occidental College in Los Angeles Nov. 30 2018. Bella Fabiani/The Occidental

President of WINK Kristina Baldwin (junior) came up with the idea over the summer when she was interning for an organization called Breakthrough Collaborative.

“The group of women I was working with were the most positive, upbeat and affirming individuals I had ever spoken with,” Baldwin said. “This was a moment where I was like, ‘Here is a community where I feel so uplifted and supported,’ and I wanted to create that at Oxy.”

WINK differs from a similar group on campus, Women and Youth Supporting Each other (WYSE), because WYSE serves as a program that mentors local middle school girls and encourages female leadership and activism in the community, according to WYSE member Lauren Uy (first year).

WINK recently collaborated with Occidental’s Hillel chapter for a Self-Care Shabbat event, as well as with Active Minds for a crafts and de-stressing event. These events aimed to both foster conversations around mental health and offer opportunities for women to support and take care of one another.

The art and positive messages WINK taped to the bathroom mirrors across campus were a meaningful contribution to campus culture the group is proud of, Butler said. Along with these small acts of kindness, WINK has been working to fundraise and establish membership at their meetings, according to Butler.

“We had a super successful donut and hot chocolate fundraiser two weeks ago,” Butler said. “We’re working to try to go to a retreat that focuses on how to handle your anxiety — so that’s what we’re raising money for right now.”

Committee chair e-board member of WINK (Women Inspiring iNner Kindness), Kaufman Butler (sophomore), speaks about the positive messages posted in bathrooms across campus at Occidental College in Los Angeles Nov. 30 2018. Bella Fabiani/The Occidental

Aside from the people who consistently show up at meetings, the e-board has been extending club involvement on social media. For example, they facilitate a good morning group chat for their members with uplifting messages so students who cannot attend the meetings can still contribute to the club.

“We’ve been doing a lot of things on social media because I think, at Oxy, it’s hard for people to always be able to show up in person, but people are much more able to show up online,” Baldwin said.

Butler said the group’s goal for next semester is to try to increase membership, as well as continue to spread the word about what WINK is as a club. Ideally, they want to co-sponsor more events with other organizations.

According to Auffenorde, the group wants to establish a greater presence on campus by hosting more events as a form of community outreach.

“We want to bring more awareness to day-to-day self-care so everyone can take care of themselves the best that they can,” Butler said. “We’re really about spreading positivity and making it so that everyone feels like they have a safe space to talk about what’s troubling them, what their mental health struggles may be and finding people that can help support them.”

According to Baldwin, WINK is all about creating a non-judgmental and supportive community.

“People come to WINK to develop a community of people who they can share things about themselves to,” Baldwin said. “[They can share] stories about mental health and stories that are maybe more intimate, and find support.”

Next year, the leadership will change as the vice president and president are going abroad and Auffenorde and Butler will be co-presidents. For those interested in either joining the organization or pursuing leadership opportunities with them, WINK meets on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in Johnson 303.

“WINK should be a group that is not only led by the e-board but led by the people who come in,” Auffenorde said. “If anyone has any ideas or directions they want to take this club, they should reach out. They should not only have this space but also help create it.”