SGA introduces legislation in support of a women's and gender center

The Student Government Association House will vote next Monday to approve legislation supporting the construction of a women's and gender center on campus.

The legislation, passed by the Senate last Monday, calls for a safe place for all "women, transgender and gender nonconforming students, faculty, staff, community members and sexuality-concerned registered student organizations."

The legislation was sponsored by SGA's Diversity Committee and Transcend, an RSO dedicated to transgender issues.

"The creation of a women’s center would align with Central Michigan (University's) core values of inclusiveness and social responsibility," the legislation states.

The bill is broad in intent, supporting the construction of any women's center but not calling for a specific model.

The center, according to senior Michael Zurek, a member of the SGA Diversity Committee, will potentially be an operating base for several feminist groups around campus, as well as provide employment and internship possibilities for students.

Zurek said the legislation was made as broad as it was in order to gain as much support as possible.

"We decided that the legislation should not deal with a specific institution," Zurek said. "It needed to be as broad as possible. We want to gain favor for a women's center on campus; we didn't want anyone to be against it because of a specific detail."

Saginaw junior Marie Reimers, who helped author the bill, said it is imperative for CMU to construct a women's and gender center.

"This has been in the planning for a long time now," Reimers said. "We need a women's center ... we are one of the only schools without a women's center."

According to Laura Orta, assistant director of Graduate and Off-campus programs in the Political Science Department, CMU is one of only three colleges in the Mid-American Conference without a women's center.

"We don't have a center that says 'this is everything that is going on considering women and gender,'" Orta said during Monday's SGA meeting. "It would be a uniting force."

Although not specifically endorsed by SGA legislation, which is designed to support any form of a women's and gender center, Orta has presented a specific vision of a women's center she has constructed, which she has named "The Elizabeth Ross" center, after CMU President Ross's wife.

The specific model would focus on integrating information about gender into one location and providing a place of support and community for women. The center would likely be built in the 002 suite of Anspach hall.

SGA President Justin Gawronski said a women's center will be a positive force on this campus.

"I think CMU should have it," Gawronski said. "There are more women on this campus than men, in terms of students and staff"


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