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Women’s Center gets a makeover: Space reopened with a new vision

By Erin McNaught

For their 2012 senior capstone class, members of Women in Learning and Leadership revitalized the Women’s Center, and in celebration of a completed project, held a re-opening ceremony in the Brower Student Center on Wednesday, April 11.

W.I.L.L. director and professor of women’s and gender studies, Mary Lynn Hopps, welcomed everyone to the ceremony and elaborated on the senior capstone process. Members of the capstone then took turns explaining the past, present and future of the Women’s Center, which is located in the basement of the Brower Student Center.

(Ashley Long / Photo Editor)

The Women’s Center’s purpose is to create a safe space for all students at the College to go and be free to discuss any and all topics that are important to them. Alumnae Valerie Baker and Emily Bent spoke about their own experiences with the Women’s Center. The pair of ’03 graduates comprised the first W.I.L.L. class.

“The Women’s Center was my space of resistance, my space of support. I could go and immediately connect with women of my same mindset,” said Bent, who now works as an adjunct professor of women’s and gender studies. “I loved saying what was on my mind and putting it all over campus. The Women’s Center is a space in which you can be as radical as you want, push limits in ways you might not be able to in other groups. The Women’s Center is where we really got angry and pushed the limit as much as we could.”

Since Bent and Baker’s time in the Women’s Center, the space had become a mess, “impossible to function in,” according to Casey Olesko, senior sociology and women’s and gender studies double major, who was in charge of organizing the clean-up of the space.

Once they discovered a termite infestation in the space, Olesko and the other members of her W.I.L.L. senior capstone group decided that revitalizing the Women’s Center would be the perfect project. Group members broke up into five subcommittees and worked to clean up and reorganize the entire space. They also got new furniture and materials for the Women’s Center.

(Ashley Long / Photo Editor)

The future of the Women’s Center looks bright, as W.I.L.L. has implemented and trained “space leaders” to act as staff for the new space.

Space leaders will occupy the Women’s Center to provide support of any kind for anyone who needs it. They will help the space develop to its full potential as a home for diversity and advocacy.

The ceremony concluded with a video slideshow of the Women Center’s transformation and the cutting of the ribbon to officially open up the space to the student body.

“Our video (on April 11) concluded with the words unite, empower, and support. The Women’s Center will be able to do those three things,” Olesko said of the re-opening. “Men and women alike on this campus will now know that they have a safe space where they will be able to confront and consider issues that are relevant and important to them.”



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