Reimagining the Women’s Center: The importance of refocusing the mission of campus women’s groups

The three women’s groups on campus – the Women’s Center, the Women of Color Resource Center and the Women of Color Coalition – have been forced to reorganize and reevaluate their roles on campus due to a dearth of organizational leadership. We at the Record believe that this is an opportunity for these groups to reconsider their goals and institutional methods. A revitalization can help women’s groups serve a critical role in advocating for equality on campus.

One of the first efforts to reorganize the women’s groups should be to consolidate the core group of interested students. We applaud these groups’ leaders for having already begun to discuss this possibility. Having three women’s groups on campus is redundant, and uniting these organizations can help make the services they provide more cohesive and better suited to address the needs of the campus.

We at the Record agree that a lack of demonstrated interest in participating in women’s groups on campus does not indicate that students are not interested in issues of gender equality, nor does it indicate that gender inequality does not exist on campus. Rather, events and meetings organized by women’s groups on campus are not well attended because they fail to address issues that are salient enough on campus to motivate students to attend.

Accordingly, the reorganization of women’s groups should be accompanied by a refocusing of goals. While the issues that led to the founding of women’s organizations are still present on campus, other issues of gender inequality may be more pressing. As such, a coalition of the women’s groups on campus has a huge capacity to pique the interest of students by reflecting today’s issues. Perhaps this newly-reorganized group could increase  programming on discrimination in the job application process, double standards in the hookup culture or women’s body image and self-esteem issues.

As our programming suggestions indicate, women-centered groups are not limited to addressing the issues our campus faces. Whether they be international issues or day-to-day concerns we may not encounter until we leave the purple bubble, it is critical that we are informed to address the issues of gender inequality that await us after graduation. It is therefore the role of women’s groups on campus to organize programming that reflects the issues that we currently face and will face in the near future.

We at the Record hope that campus women’s groups continue to use this opportunity not just to consolidate their membership, but also to reenvision their role on campus and move forward in engaging students in a meaningful discussion on gender inequality.

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