This past Friday, October 21, the storage-closet-turned-haven of acceptance, comfort, and love formerly known as the Women’s Resource Center hosted its third birthday party. The gathering had all the makings of a real birthday bash: balloons, cupcakes, even a patriarchy piñata. The Center also premiered its latest student art exhibit, which included three beautiful paintings of the female form created by CFA student Kristen Winner.
Volunteers for the entirely student-run center, as well as fellow students, visiting parents, and even Executive Director of Student Activities and Operations, John Battaglino, were in attendance. One of the most impressive features of the Center is its heavy reliance on these impassioned students. It has an executive board of 14, a pool of 40 volunteers, and ten different student groups using the center as a venue.
The start of the evening proved to be an exciting one with the promise of an important announcement. When the clock struck six, E-board members Diane Adamson and Ariana Katz took to the stage. They first expressed gratitude towards the Center’s volunteers, supportive BU faculty, and the Women’s Studies department, among others. They went on to present the story of the Center, one of twists, turns, trials and tribulations.
A women’s resource center existed here at BU in the 1970s but fell under an unsupportive university administration, in addition to other difficulties. A glass case in the back left nook of the center exhibits fragments of this colorful history: part of a January 1978 proposal for a center for women’s development; an April, 1978 Daily Free Press article on a controversial women’s center project called the “BU Women’s Yellow Pages;” a 1982 flyer for a center open house.After its collapse, Boston University students rallied for a reopening, seeing the need for an inclusive place of gathering with an emphasis on female empowerment. In 2008, this student group was granted its current space in the basement of the GSU, next to the Terrier Cards office.
While the space largely promotes female empowerment, the buck doesn’t stop there. Groups like Voices for Choice, the Queer Activist Collective, and ALLIES all use the center as their primary meeting space. According to PR director Michelle Weiser, on a trip to the New England Women’s Center Conference, the WRC and other women’s centers discussed a phenomenon: the expanding inclusivity of their centers. Many seemed to consider a name change to reflect this inclusivity.
Ariana and Diane described the evolving functions of the Center. With the motivation outlined, they announced the Center’s ultimate decision to rename itself.
The former Women’s Resource Center is now Boston University’s Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism. This means increased discussion of gender and further emphasis on activism (BU’s Occupy Boston chapter even meets in there). In a press release from the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism, Activism Coordinator Sasha Goodfriend said, “As we look to the future, we want BU to be part of the movement considering gender and identity, be proactive, and set the tone on a national scale.”
These are high hopes for an entirely student-run group, but motivated by the success of BU females past, there’s not a shred of doubt that these strong young women will rise to the challenge.