To continue the wonderful conversation about Lehigh Spaces, including Laura Fitzpatrick’s exploration of Linderman and Laura Casale’s reflection on Farrington Square, I wanted to add some thoughts about one of my new favorite places (and incidentally, my current work space), the Women’s Center. Established 25 years ago, the Women’s Center has changed locations a few times in the past quarter of a century, eventually settling on the second floor of the University Center, in UC 207. However, despite the Women’s Center’s rich history, it remains a kind of hidden gem. Many students (undergraduate and graduate alike), faculty, and staff are unaware of its location, much less ways in which they can utilize the space. Part of my role as the current Graduate Assistant is to increase outreach and find new ways to involve those unassociated with the Center, so here are some fun facts about the space:
First and foremost, the Women’s Center is for everyone, regardless of one’s sex, gender, sexuality, orientation, or beliefs. Our staff is composed of both men and women-identified students, and we encourage everyone to stop by to eat lunch, take a nap on one of our comfy couches, listen to a discussion, or grab some safe sex supplies. Our discussions are also open to all students, faculty, and staff, regardless of their previous knowledge about a given topic.
Admittedly, the Women’s Center is sometimes confused with the Health Center and the Counseling Center. Whereas we support the great works done by these spaces, the Women’s Center is not a space for confidential reporting or public health services–although we are happy to have conversations about resources on campuses that students may wish to use.
Nevertheless, there are multiple ways to engage with the Women’s Center! Students can work at the Women’s Center in a variety of opportunities, including internships (which are also open to graduate students), volunteering, and work-study hours. During my first year of graduate school, I worked as an intern for a semester, followed by serving as a volunteer for a semester, during which time I worked as the Editor-in-Chief for a feminist literary magazine. I found that it was a wonderful way to get involved on a new campus and engage with students outside of the traditional classroom space.
Another little known fact: you can reserve the Women’s Center and/or its inner office for private conferences, group meetings, study sessions, or even hosting a class! We also have technology available for showing videos and Powerpoint presentations, if you are working on a digital project. For example, since many instructors in the English department include units about sex, gender, and pop culture, you can consider reserving the Women’s Center for a class session, or encouraging students to visit the space by offering extra credit for attending a discussion or event sponsored by the Women’s Center. I am also working on developing a series of pre-designed workshops this year about a variety of topics (for example, casual sexism, fitspiration, sex and sexism in the media, etc.), which I can tailor to your individual or group needs if you are interested in having a guest lecturer.
We are always looking for more ways to involve graduate students and faculty members, as well, so if you have any ideas, please feel free to reach out to me–or even better, stop by to visit the WC!