From left, Nicole Belisle, ‘19, Maddie Licht, ’19, and Bridget Bell, ’19, enjoy Marian Jordan Ellis’ performance before her presentation Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Lamberton Hall. The presentation discussed Ellis’ story and women’s rights.

Campus ministries promote self-love and sisterhood at Girls’ Night Out event

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The Girls’ Night Out event began with a clip from the popular television show Sex and the City, and speaker Marian Jordan Ellis explained that women are always searching for labels and love to define them.

Girls’ Night Out took place Wednesday at Lamberton Hall. Cru, a Christian ministry on Lehigh’s campus, sponsored the event.

Ellis is the author of “Sex and the City Uncovered.” On Wednesday, she shared the story of her struggle to love herself and how Jesus played an important role in the redirection of her life. She has given this speech at 80 different college campuses across the country and has prompted sororities and women to reflect upon their own lives and collegiate experiences.

The speech centered on Ellis’ college life, and how throughout those years she defined herself by the people around her.

“I found my value really in what other people thought of me,” Ellis said.

Hannah Yahraus, ’19, helped coordinate the event. She is a member of InterVarsity, another Christian organization on campus. Yahraus said she felt that the event was meaningful and sparked a lot of good conversations between people.

Prior to the event, there was controversy over whether its true intent was to have a focus on religion.

“I think in anything, certain world views make things come off as religious,” Yahraus said.

Caroline Jennings, ’19, is a member of Cru and was a master of ceremonies for Girls’ Night Out. She said she didn’t really know how religious the event would be, but she felt, for the most part, people got a lot out of it.

“There was definitely a mix of responses because some people took a more religious aspect than others,” Jennings said.

Although parts of the speech revolved around Jesus and Christianity, Ellis said she did not come to push her faith upon anyone but rather to share her story and explain how Jesus helped her overcome her obstacles.

Yahraus said she thinks Ellis was effective in bringing all different types of women together.

Ellis’ message focused on self-love. Jennings said sororities on campus could apply the ideas of respecting yourself and not labeling one another from Ellis’ speech to their own chapters.

“A lot of what she was saying about respecting yourself and having a strong viewpoint of who you are as a person, a lot of people resonated with that,” Jennings said.

Jessica Fitter, ’20, a member of Alpha Phi, said she feels this message could definitely be applied to sorority life.

“I think the message of self-love could be applied to sorority life because often sorority members feel pressure to act a certain way,” she said.

However, Fitter also felt the talk was a bit too religious for her liking and felt once the speech took a more religious turn it was hard for her to relate to it.

Yahraus said the stigma of labels and love should be understood and used to improve women’s lives and sororities at Lehigh.

“People judge each other in our society,” Yahraus said. “We can step outside of those labels, and we don’t have to label each other.”

Jennings said women in sororities can embrace themselves through sisterhood and through always having a support system from the women in their chapters. This connects to Ellis speaking about how women do not need male attention to define them.

The event began with live music and ended with a reflection period and a chance for audience members to fill out a slip of paper with their thoughts on the event.

One hundred twenty women attended the event. Many of the attendees were sorority members because the sorority with the highest attendance won money toward their philanthropy.

Zeta Tau Alpha won first place and received a $750 prize, and Alpha Phi won second place and received $250.

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