A guide for Freshmen: What is the Women’s Center?

Courtney Green, News Editor

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“I’m interested in the Women’s Center, but I don’t really think it’s the place for me.” Well, lucky for you, the Women’s Center is an intersectional, all-inclusive place for everyone and every identity one carries.

Spinnaker sat down with Sheila Spivey, Senior Director of the Department of Diversity Initiatives, to discuss the role of the Women’s Center on campus and their future initiatives.

The first thing Spivey wants you to know: the Women’s Center has something for everyone on campus, whether that’s a hot cup of tea or coffee, or a place to relax and chat with peers.

And, beyond that, Spivey shared, “We also provide opportunities to engage students in learning about gender, gender inequity, and what gender inequality means. It’s also a great place to celebrate the accomplishments of women.”

In case you didn’t know, the Women’s Center is under the umbrella of the Department of Diversity Initiatives, along with the Interculture Center for Peace and the Interfaith Center. This promotes opportunities for intersectionality among the branches.

“We also have services for victims of crime,” Spivey added.

The Center’s victim advocacy program provides services 24/7 through their 24-hour crisis helpline at (904) 620-1010. The service does not require you to fill out a police report in order to use it.

“Our goal is to meet students where they are and to be able to be a supportive listening ear. Our overall focus is to start those conversations with students who’ve been traumatized by believing them and the information they are sharing. Our goal is to help them rebuild a life after the victimization.”

In addition to services for victims, the Women’s Center also provides a “Nursing Nest,” which is a private place where students with children can express milk.

Some events to look out for this semester hosted by the Women’s Center include the Friday Lounge. This is an open discussion group that allows students to discuss topics ranging from relationships to intersectional issues. Here, you can share your views and opinions and also listen and learn from other perspectives. The Friday Lounge runs from 2 to 4 p.m. and is ‘open’ in the sense you can arrive late or leave early.

Another event to look out for this semester is the Women’s Center’s annual Take Back the Night March on October 16. This is a cross-campus march that brings awareness to intimate partner violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“This is a great opportunity to show survivors that we are a campus that truly cares about them, that we want to meet their needs, and that we believe that violence really has no place on our campus,” Spivey shared.

The Women’s Center is also partnering with the Language, Literature, and Culture Department and the Latin American Student Organization to bring a performance called Tres Vitas, which highlights women in the Hispanic culture. The performance, which will be set to music, will tell the stories of three women in Latin American culture. Check it out on October 15 at 6 p.m.

In the future, the Center plans for a Celebration of Women in the Arts event, which will showcase women’s talent in performance arts. It will feature aerial acrobats, musicians, artists. A dessert reception will follow, according to a deliciously established tradition. Also in the future, the Center plans to bring in a speaker for Women’s History Month, which is March, and are open to suggestions from students about who they would like that speaker to be.

Of recent note, the Women’s Center has a new Specialist. Jessica Harris is expected to bring in some new events and programs. Students are encouraged to come by and meet her when they can. 

If you have an interest in women’s studies as a minor or just want academic credit in the area, you might want to consider interning with the Center. If you want to volunteer with the Center, or just become involved, you have that option as well.

Finally, Spivey has a parting message for students.

“We are an inviting, supportive and engaging location for students to come and be themselves. We have opportunities for all students to participate in a greater learning and understanding of diversity, as well as to come and find their home in the nest. The Women’s Center can definitely be their place in the nest.”

“The other thing I want to point out to students is that our programs and services are open for everyone. I don’t want students to think that just because they hear the name ‘Women’s Center’ that it excludes them. It means ‘you too can come.’ Our services are open to everyone, regardless of their gender identity or any other identities that they hold.”

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