Image courtesy of Lily Forado

February 9, 2021    |   Volume 2, Issue 17

TOTD: Lack of Diversity in Equestrian Sports

by Grace Sacoman, WSS Undergraduate Intern

For the past fifteen years, I’ve been heavily immersed in the equestrian world. I began riding as a youngin’—around five or six—so all I’ve ever known was riding and the society it was attached to. Dressage—the discipline* I compete in—is a very exciting, competitive, and opportunistic sport; but above all else, it’s whitewashed (in America, specifically). To give you some perspective, I can count on one hand the number of riders I’ve met who were a person of color. And out of those three, I only competed against one. Fifteen years. Ridiculous? Yes. Surprising? Sadly, no.

The equestrian world is a difficult place to succeed in. Not only do you need the right connections, but you better have a pretty penny in your pocket to keep up with training fees and your horse’s maintenance. Shows alone can cost thousands of dollars. On top of that, it is no stranger to racism.

As 17 year old show jumping* champion Sophie Gochman states, “we are an insular community with a gross amount of wealth and white privilege” (reported by Lucy Alexander from the Robb Report). Gochman also comments on the fact that too many powerful trainers and prevalent personalities in the community will root for racist “policies towards immigrants but hire undocumented workers from Latin America as grooms*” (you can find her awesome article on social injustices in the equestrian world here).

Mavis Spencer, professional show jumper and US Equestrian ambassador, sums it up skillfully: “Having the conversation about diversity in our industry always comes back to systemic racism because of financial constraints that have been in place for hundreds of years. That system needs to change” (her interview with Practical Horseman can be found here).

It pains me to see a world I call home have such limiting, discriminatory behaviors and a stark tolerance for ignorance. I no longer wonder why the warm-up ring* lacks diversity.

Thankfully, there are beacons of light for the sport. One of these beacons is Anna Buffini, an incredibly accomplished black dressage rider who’s claimed several regional and national titles at a young age. She is considered to be a prodigy in the horse world and expected to make prestigious dressage teams in the coming years. Anna is not only a dressage athlete, but an ambassador for Alexa Fairchild, a prestigious, ethical fashion brand. Strong figures like Anna encourage the younger, incoming generation of riders to not be afraid to step into the arena, no matter what they look like, what their faith is, or where they come from.


*DISCIPLINE: A specific type of horseback riding

*SHOW JUMPING: An equine discipline where horse and rider compete for the lowest time while completing an obstacle course of jumps in a specific order

*GROOM: A horse’s handler and caretaker. These individuals will often feed, groom, tack up, medicate, and look after the horse(s) they’re dedicated to

*WARM-UP RING: An area on the showgrounds for horse and rider to practice before entering the ring (competition) 

Interested in sharing your own "Thought Of The Day" or TOTD? Come to WILD Wednesday or email us at

Have something to say in the WSS Weekly Zine? To submit an announcement, please email us.

In this edition of WSS Zine you'll find the following announcements...
  • Programs/Services:
    • WILD 2020 Conference a tremendous Success!
    • WILD 2021 Planning Committee
    • WSS Online Office Hours 
    • MRULE Roundtable Discussions 
    • Writing Centers and Access: A Speaker Series 
    • My Spartan Story
    • COGS Monthly Yoga Series 
    • MSU Center for Survivors Spring Groups 2021 
    • MSU Family Affinity Group
    • MSU Adult Caregiver Affinity Group 
    • MSU College Advising Corps Application
    • Jennicet Gutierrez- Trans Liberation: in the fight for LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights
    • Queering Racial Justice Summit
    • Transgender Day of Visibility Student Research Symposium 
    • Empowering Stories: Women in Leadership, Business, &Finance
    • Beyond the binary: A gender identity spectrum support group
    • Empower U
    • Gender Identity and Attractionality 
    • POE Peer Educator Application
    • 2021-2022 MSU Student Affairs and Services Scholarships 
    • Save the Date for UURAF!
    • CAPS Connect
  • Community Heath Concern Information
  • About Women*s Student Services
Post your announcement here by emailing


Post your event here by emailing
Join Women*s Student Services starting Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at 6 PM EST for Crafternoons and Communitea! Sign up Here

*The Deadline to sign-up for the recycled mittens event is THIS Thursday at midnight!
Join MSU Women*s Student Services in watching the 2021 LUNAFEST films, followed by a Zoom panel discussion with students, staff, & faculty. To claim your free ticket, go to our EventBrite page linked here. For more information on LUNAFEST, visit their website linked here


By signing up on the EventBrite page, you will receive an email the day of the event with a Vimeo link and password to view the short films. You may watch anywhere within a 48 hour window. There will be a synchronous Zoom panel held by the staff of Women*s Student Services, featuring voices from the MSU students, staff and faculty.

The suggested schedule for the event is:

6:30-8:00PM EST - Watch the short films via the Vimeo link

8:00-9:00PM EST - Join the Zoom webinar for the panel discussion

                             Trailer for LUNAFEST 2021

Along with all the staff of Student Affairs & Services, the staff of WSS is currently working remotely. We are available to meet virtually one on one via Zoom. To sign up to meet with either Heather (Director) or Gabby (Graduate Assistant), please click the links below.

To meet with Dr. Heather Shea, click on this link to go to her You Can Book Me Page to sign up for a time slot.

To meet with Gabby Wahla, click on this link to go to her You Can Book Me Page to sign up for a time slot.

MRULE Roundtable Discussion 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021, and Wednesday, February 9, 2021, 8:00 – 9:00 PM, register here

These Roundtable Discussions will take place EVERY WEEK to ANYONE interested in meeting other students to talk about those things that matter and to build community across difference.

Please join the Writing Center beginning February 4, 1-2 PM EST for the Writing Center and Access: A Speaker Series. The series will include topics that will be very helpful to students and faculty in their research. 



The MSU Multicultural Feasibility Study has completed its idea generation phase, which involved multiple community engagement activities over the last month. The study steering and planning committees would like to share their findings and hear your opinion. Please follow the link below to participate. They would like to hear MSU student voices, so please share this information with others who might want to help shape the multicultural center’s future through the planning process.

Zoom Link:

Join COGS and Recreational Sports and Fitness Services for an evening yoga class to relax after a stressful few weeks! Monthly Yoga sessions are offered free of charge for graduate & professional students. The next session is on February 11th! See RSVP link below to register and receive link.  Invite your friends! All you need to participate is an open space, water, and a towel/mat.

  COGS 2021 Yoga Series:

6:45 pm- 7:45 pm EST via Zoom

February 11

March 11

April 8


RSVP Link  

This semester My Spartan Story is offering workshops for students and Registered Student Organizations (RSOs)! Please see above for the workshop dates/times. Click on the image to sign-up and learn more information!
This semester, MSU Center for Survivors will be providing various virtual groups via zoom listed below.

Community Connect
Community Connect is a drop-in support group on Wednesdays from 12-1 focused on building community & fostering connections among fellow survivors. Questions? Email Christie at  or Kimmins at Interested? Fill out this quick form

Healing Through Yoga!
Healing Through Yoga is a drop-in trauma-sensitive yoga practice to promote healing and wellness. Classes begin January 28th  and will be held on zoom on Thursdays from 1-2 PM. To register, fill out this form  and email with any questions!

Get it Done 2021
Are you struggling to get motivated this year? It’s not too late!
Join MSU Center for Survivors for a workshop on setting intentions and creating achievable goals for 2021 on February 3rd from 6-8 PM. Register here:
Contact  with any questions.

The Next Chapter
Center for Survivors presents “The Next Chapter” Book Club. We'll be reading Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski. Grab some coffee or tea and join us from 3pm-4:30, beginning Tuesday, February 9th, to learn more about how to ‘turn the page’ on your own burnout! Books will be provided. Registration Link:

Support survivors, learn more, and receive updates about MSU Center for Survivors by following their Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.

The Family Affinity Group (focusing on parents and caregivers of children and teens) has meetings the second Thursday of each month from 12-1pm via Zoom. This is a place for Spartans to connect on family related topics with the goal of connecting, building community, and sharing best practices regarding raising or caregiving for children and caregivers. ​The topic for February's meeting is "How to Talk to Your Children About Race," and the topic for March's meeting is "Avoiding Power Struggles with Your Children."

What is an Affinity Group?

“An affinity group is a group of people linked by a common interest”.

Family Affinity Group

Every 2nd Thursday of the Month

12pm-1pm via Zoom

Password: family


February 11thHow to Talk to Your Children About Race Featuring Kylie Rymanowicz & Vivian Washington from MSU Extension


March 11thAvoiding Power Struggles with Your Children Featuring Jon Novello from MSU Employee Assistance Program

The Adult Caregivers Affinity Group (focusing on caregivers of adult/elders) has meetings the fourth Thursday of the each month from 12-1pm via Zoom. This is a place for Spartans to connect and share information on topics such as how to start conversations on living situation changes, higher levels of care needed, caring for yourself as a caregiver, and making a home safe for a senior. 

What is an Affinity Group?

“An affinity group is a group of people linked by a common interest”.

Zoom link: 

Password: caregivers


MSU College Advising Corps (MSUCAC) places recent and soon-to-be MSU graduates in high schools throughout the state of Michigan to serve as near-peer college advisers, assisting underrepresented high school students and their families with the transition to post-secondary education, including four-year or two-year institutions and trade or technical schools. Could this be you?


Their application for the 2021-2022 program year is now open to all majors! You can review the posting on Handshake (#4354167). They are hiring MSU students who will graduate between May-August 2021, as well as MSU alumni from May 2019-December 2020. The application deadline is February 26.


Please also visit & follow their social media pages for information about upcoming recruitment events and other updates.


Instagram: | Facebook: | Twitter: | YouTube:

Jennicet Gutierrez
Trans Liberation: In the Fight for LGBTQ Rights and Immigrant Rights
March 4, 2021 at 7pm

Save the date! On March 4 from 7-8:30 pm, organizer Jennicet Gutiérrez will be holding a Zoom lecture, sponsored by the LBGTRC, James Madison College, Chicano/Latino Studies, MSU Law Diversity and Equity Services Office, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, JMC Latinx Unidos, Stonewall Society, and Comparative Cultures and Politics.
Password: JMC
The Queering Racial Justice Summit is a vital two (2) day opportunity for students to come together to discuss the deep connections between racial justice and LGBTQA+ justice. The summit offers session rotations on inclusive leadership, White supremacy, allyship, and more. Throughout the two-days, there will be raffles for prizes, keynote speakers, and the opportunity to connect with other students to coalition build an action plan.
Sign-up TODAY! 
The Queering Racial Justice Summit is Friday, March 12th, and Saturday, March 13th! More details to come!
Women's Leadership Insitute and Go For The Green Financial Literacy Team Present:
Empowering Stories: Women in Leadership, Business, & Finance 
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
                                           REGISTER TODAY
For Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31st, the LBGT Resource Center is hosting their first annual virtual Research Symposium! Check-in throughout the day and listen to talks from student researchers on trans and nonbinary gender identities in various fields of study. Their schedule of events and keynote speaker announcements are coming soon! The call for proposals from undergraduate, graduate, and professional students will remain open until March 8th at
Beyond the Binary: A gender identity spectrum support group.

This is a safer space for support for undergraduate and graduate students who are exploring or identify as transgender, gender fluid, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming.

Potential topics of discussion include challenges of coming out to self and others, identity development, limitations of labels, negotiating gendered environments, identity-affirming relationships, coping with minority stress and gender binary norms, accessing supportive health and social services, aspects of transitioning process, and adjustment to social identity, family dynamics, and impacts on wellness, needs and impact of being closeted, being TGNB at MSU.

All meetings will be held weekly via Zoom.
Registration required. Contact Ginny Blakely at for more information or to register.
Begins Jan. 28, ends April 22
Day/Time: Thursdays 3:30–5 p.m.
Facilitator: Ginny Blakely & Mike Evitts
Location: HIPAA Compliant Zoom
Empower U

Empower U is a virtual space for LGBTQIA+ graduate and undergraduate students of color to support and empower one another. Some themes of the group include relationships, self and community care, values exploration, intersectionality, self-compassion, family dynamics, navigating cultural expectations, and building resilience. All meetings will be held weekly over Zoom.

Group screening required. There will be a brief screening to see if the group is a good fit for you. For pre-screening, complete the CAPS Phone Request form and indicate your interest in Empower U.  Contact Olivia Scott at for more information.

Begins Jan. 22, Ends April 30
Day/Time: Friday 1–2 p.m.
Facilitator: Olivia Scott & Victor Leon
Location: HIPAA-compliant Zoom

*You can still join after the start date!
Gender Identity and Attractionality (GIAA) Undergrad

This support group for LGBTQ+ (including questioning) undergraduate students will address life and relational issues related to romantic and sexual attraction, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Topics are based on student interests and may include: exploring identity & identity development; trust and connections; dealing with heterosexism, cissexism, internalized homophobia and/or transphobia; dating and dating technology; attraction and romance; family dynamics; faith and identity; balancing academics with life; and intersectional identities. All meetings will be held weekly over Zoom.

Group screening required. For more information, screening, and registration, contact Victor Leon at The Zoom link will be given upon registration.

Begins Jan. 26, ends April 30
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2–3 p.m.
Facilitators: Ginny Blakely and Victor Leon
Location: HIPAA-compliant Zoom
Gender Identity and Attractionality (GIAA) Grad

This support group for LGBTQ+ (including questioning) graduate students will address life and relational issues related to romantic and sexual attraction, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Topics are based on student interests and may include: exploring identity & identity development; trust and connections; dealing with heterosexism, cissexism, internalized homophobia and/or transphobia; dating and dating technology; attraction and romance; family dynamics; faith and identity; balancing academics with life; and intersectional identities. All meetings will be held weekly over Zoom.

Group screening required. For more information, screening, and registration, contact Victor Leon at The Zoom link will be given upon registration.

Begins Jan. 27, ends April 21
Day/Time: Wednesdays, 2–3:30 p.m.
Facilitators: Ginny Blakely and Victor Leon
Location: HIPAA-compliant Zoom
The Prevention, Outreach, and Education Department is hiring Peer Educators for the 2021-2022 Academic Year! 
Applications close on March 1, 2021!
Save the date for the 2021 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF)!!! UURAF will take place between Thursday, April 15th and Monday, April 19th and will be hosted on a virtual platform. Abstract submissions will be accepted from January 12 to February 11, 2021. For more information about registration visit:

MSU Student Affairs and Services have more than 20 scholarships available for undergraduate students. The deadline for most of these scholarships is March 8, 2021. For more information and to apply, visit the MSU Student Affairs and Services scholarship page:


If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Vanwelsenaers at

Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) Updates:

Beginning March 17, as a COVID-19 preventive measure, CAPS offices at Olin Health Center, MSU Student Union, and the Neighborhoods will be closed.

CAPS counseling and psychiatry staff will work remotely to help meet the needs of MSU students.

  • Established patients with scheduled appointments will be offered phone or Zoom sessions. Patients will be contacted and given instructions.
  • All group counseling services have been cancelled. Group co-leaders will reach out to students to discuss alternative options, such as phone consultations.

Patients needing a prescription refill prior to their next appointment can use the MyMSUHealth patient portal to make the request:

CAPS Phone (517-355-8270) will be set to a voice prompt with 3 options: (Press 1) To talk with a crisis counselor, (Press 2) to leave a message with the CAPS Nurse which will be responded to within one business day, or (Press 3) for general messages.

CAPS Connect sessions and Outreach Services are canceled through the spring semester.

Community Health Concern Information:

For students with health concerns and more information on COVID-19:

Students who are struggling to meet basic needs should reach out to the Greater Lansing Food Bank (

Students experiencing mental health crisis can  MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (517-355-8270).

About Women*s Student Services
Student Life: +1 517-355-8286
Voicemail: +1 517-432-7556

Contact us!
Director: Heather D. Shea, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)
Graduate Assistant: Gabby Wahla  (she, her, hers)

Visit us in the fall!
Interactive Campus Map
make a donation to WSS

Women*s Student Services (WSS) is committed to:

  • fostering inclusive conversations that explore topics of intersectional feminism

  • building collaborations and coalitions with other student services offices and other departments on campus,

  • supporting all students in working toward an empowering and equitable community for women-identified students at MSU, and aligning with the Division’s quality standards of being respectful, responsive, and resourceful.

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