In an effort to promote the establishment of a Gender Resource Center (GRC) at the University, students created a pop-up GRC on Thursday, April 21 in North College featuring a day’s worth of student panel discussions, faculty speakers, and arts and crafts. The pop-up was sponsored by the Adelphic Educational Fund, Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD), AIDS and Sexual Health Awareness (ASHA), Wesleyan Students for Consent and Communication (SFCC), and Rho Epsilon Pi to stress the importance of having gender-related education in a specified location. The endeavor had received administrative resistance due to concerns about its long-term sustainability.
“The goal of the pop-up GRC is to show demonstrated need for a real GRC on campus,” the event’s Facebook page description reads.
Events included creative writing and thesis readings, a talk by Chair of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (FGSS) Department Victoria Pitts-Taylor, a gender equity in athletics panel, and a letter-writing event. The day concluded with a GRC reception.
Nina Gurak ’16, Lily Kong ’16, Michelle Lee ’16, and Isabel Alter ’17 are the student directors who have been working on the creation of a Gender Resource Center on campus for three years. Since their initial effort began, they have established an advisory board consisting of students, faculty, and staff members who helped them organize the program and reach out to people who could provide further guidance. In addition to contacting professors to ensure that faculty interest existed, the four collaborated with other student groups including the SFCC and Radical Storytelling to broaden the reach of the pop-up.
Kong, who was involved with logistical planning such as obtaining funds, purchasing supplies, and preparing materials, was excited to see the way a GRC might function if implemented at the University.
“Seeing all of these projects and discussions happening in the same space simultaneously was the realization of this vision we’ve had of the Gender Resource Center being a platform for collaboration and togetherness,” Kong wrote in an email to The Argus. “Everyone who participated and helped to create this temporary space confirmed that our campus really is in need of such a space, and that’s why this event was so important.”
Caitlin Majewski ’16, a student participant on the Gender Equity in Athletics panel and a senior captain of the field hockey team, felt that her event was highly inclusive, bringing both athletes and non-athletes together in an active discussion about equality in athletics at the University.
“The panel effectively allowed female athletes to both celebrate their accomplishments and speak to some of the gender barriers at play in our athletic system, from funding to facilities,” Majewski wrote in an email to The Argus. “I believe this type of event is essential and promotes an open dialogue between athletic administrators and female athletes.”
Delilah Seligman ’16, who shared her senior project at the creative writing event, gave her take on trans healthcare in modern America and the problem of diagnosis for trans people. She explained how this not only reinforces stigma and discrimination against trans individuals, but even serves to prevent them from gaining access to healthcare. She proposed potential policies that could be implemented to reform the situation and how the public can take steps toward a world without discrimination.
She reflected on the significance of the day and reaffirmed the value of establishing a permanent GRC on campus.
“I think the pop-up Gender Resource [Center] was incredibly valuable, as issues of gender, sex, and sexuality are pivotal to the wellbeing of so many communities both on this campus and in the world at large,” she wrote in an email to The Argus. “I absolutely loved hearing the works of my peers on a wide variety of issues, and I was pleased to see how intersectional many of these discussions were.”
Kong hopes that the day further emphasized the importance of a campus GRC to doubtful administrators while simultaneously inspiring those who participated to continue actively pursuing the goal of a permanent institution at the University.
“We wanted to show students, faculty, staff, administrators, etc. that a Gender Resource Center would be a huge asset to a campus like Wesleyan,” Kong wrote. “The fact that people were so engaged with the pop-up gender resource center and created such an intimate setting really moved me.”
Kong and her fellow organizers also hope that the pop-up would allow attendees to learn from the experiences of fellow community members, further inspiring them to push for the creation of the GRC.
“I’d love if the event motivated people to join us in our efforts to really bring this project to fruition,” she wrote.