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Women and Gender Studies hosts panel on feasibility of Gender Equity Center

The Women and Gender Studies department hosted a workshop today focused on the possibility of building a Gender Equity Center on Central Michigan University's campus.

The workshop included a panel of seven people who answered questions and information about the Gender Equity Center. The panel included Application Programmer for Auxiliary Services Kevin Daum, Associate Vice President of Institutional Diversity Carolyn Dunn, Jessica Jennrich, director of GVSU Women's Center and more.

Students were also on the panel including North Carolina senior Jamila Ayoubi, organizer of petition for a Gender Equity Center, and Royal Oak senior Kai Niezgoda.

“I started a petition for a Gender Equity Center as a part of my Capstone project," Ayoubi said. "I also feel like many students don’t have a safe place on campus."

The Gender Equity center would help provide administrative support and create solutions to problems. The center can help be a safe place for students and educate about gender equality. Establishing a stronger relationship between all of the diversity offices and women’s and gender studies is also a goal of the center, said political science professor Cherie Strachan.

“We (in the Women and Gender studies department) were expected to provide mentoring programs for faculty and staff, all of the programing for women’s history month and more,” Strachan said. “It was above and beyond what other academic units were doing with less resources. I would like to see a Gender Equity Center that can help take some of those responsibilities. I think there’s no unit on campus that can take charge and help meet the needs for students and fill that vacuum.”

Audience members echoed that feeling that more work and trying to stretch programs too thin was not the answer to not having a Gender Equity Center on campus.

“I think adding more work to other offices and organizations such as the Diversity and Equity office is the opposite of the point of a Gender Equity Center,” said sociology professor Mary Senter.

The center would work to have students become civically engaged on the topic of gender around campus and provide a safe space everyone on campus can utilize.

“I think students on campus really deserve a center like this where we can all work together,” Niezgoda said. “It would be inclusive and encompass the needs of LGBTQ students, women and gender minorities. There aren’t spaces specially for people who don’t identify as traditional gender norms. It’s a central place to organize and come together and having consistency.”

A funding and academic request is currently being viewed by the President and president’s cabinet. Two parts to the funding are being considered: creation of the space for the center and programing costs, or events hosted by the Gender Equity Center.

For the space it would have offices, a lobby, and a place for students. There is funding for a director and administrative staff in the proposal.