Take a Walk to the Women’s Center

By Oksana Smoliniec

SC Staff Writer

Across the street from the library, at 411 Normal Street, lies a facility known as the Women’s Center, which is seeking active engagement from the university community.

Established to enhance educational, cultural, and social experiences for women, it provides a forum for political discussion and events beneficial to the community of ESU’s women.

Collaboration among Multicultural Affairs, Women’s Studies, the Feminist Alliance and the Women’s Center has created several Women’s History Month celebratory events.

On March 3  Feminist Alliance Interviews were held describing their roles on campus and their programming for Women’s History Month as well as the rest of the semester. They were aired at 11:00 PM on ESU’s WESS Radio.

On March 16 at 7:00 PM in Shawnee Hall lounge there was a group discussion about the role that women have played in activism, both past and present, and will play in the future. The event was called “Honest Conversations: Exercising Their Right, Women’s Role in Modern Day Activism”.                          

On March 18 the ESU community held, “Beyoncé: Feminist?” discussing Beyoncé’s stance on women’s empowerment and how she essentially reclaimed the “F” word. There was also a group discussion about the role of the Women’s Rights Movement, the work that has been done in the past and the obstacles and future opportunities at 7:00 PM in University Center Room 205.      

The Women’s Center often holds meetings they call “Thought Talk.” The most recent was held on March 19 at 2:00 PM. The questions posed during the discussion by students and professors included:

• What do you think sexual assault is?

• Do you know about the process for filing a report?

• Do you know about the different options that exist for victim help and support?

• Ways to prevent sexual assault (facts to show how frequent it is)

“The conversation flowed very smoothly for such a controversial topic. Participants were able to discuss the Penn State Facebook page, a current news headline for sexual assault among college communities,” said La Shondra Cherry, graduate student and assistant at the Women’s Center.

She continued, “We talked about the fact that most victims of sexual assault fail to realize that it is not their fault or are afraid to speak out about it. I am glad to be a part of a place that creates a safe place for people to feel comfortable in talking to someone.”

At the March 20 Annual ESU Dinner Party, a recreation of Judy Chicago’s art piece, ”The Dinner Party,” and her program where plates and placemats were made to honor remarkable women was held at 6:00 PM in the Keystone Room.                     

On March 26 “The Line,” a personal documentary exploring sexual boundaries and consent was presented. A cautionary story that is both provocative and engaging, the film served as a platform to spark a conversation that lasted from 2:00 PM – 3:45 PM, in Beers Lecture Hall.

Experienced women came together for a panel discussion in conjunction with The Greater March Section, National Council of Negro Women, Inc., on “dealing with baggage,” 7:00 PM – 9 PM in Stroud 117 on March 27 called, “Been There, Done That…Keeping It Real.”

The Center encourages campus groups and classes to use the facility as a meeting place. ESU’s Feminist Alliance holds its regular meetings at the Women’s Center.

The Women’s Center also sponsors a variety of workshops about issues of concern to women year round.

Some of the programs in the past have included topics such as women and careers, women’s health issues, women’s history month, sexual harassment and sexual assault, eating disorders, and homophobia and heterosexism.

The mission statement of the Center is as follows: “The Women’s Center provides a supportive environment for discussion, knowledge, and programming that celebrates, empowers, and recognizes women and equality for all.”

Patricia Kashner, Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs, encourages students to utilize the services of the Women’s Center and the V.O.I.C.E. Center, which is co-located with the Women’s Center.

V.O.I.C.E. stands for Victims Options in The Campus Environment. Through a partnership with Women’s Resources of Monroe County, University Police, and a grant related to the Violence Against Women’s Act, the V.O.I.C.E. Center has been established to provide a safe haven for individuals affected by rape, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking to explore their options and heal.

Communicate on Twitter with the Women’s Center at @ESUWomensCenter, contact them at 570-422-3957, or just drop in to 411 Normal Street for an intellectual, inspiring conversation in a welcoming environment over a coffee or tea. They are open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Monday through Friday.

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