Women’s Center Action Council in Action
While the Williamson House was scheduled to be torn down during the first phase of the Kent State master plan, the Women’s Center is thrilled to share that the Williamson House will remain and the Women’s Center, Center for Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Leadership are staying in this historic community space. The Williamson House has been part of the Kent State community since it was donated by the origi-nal owner, Portage County Common Pleas Judge Carl. H. Curtiss in 1944, and the house served as the President’s house and held the Alumni Center until 2016 when the Women’s Center relo-cated there.
With the news that the Williamson House is here to stay, we are able to once again focus our en-ergy on building the next chapter of the Women’s Center. We are currently in the final stages of restructuring the Women’s Center Action Council, connecting faculty, staff and students with the Women’s Center (and each other) to create change around key issues impacting our communi-ty. We have a variety of areas of focus including leadership, reproductive health, advocacy and policy, scholarship, celebrations, women of color initiatives and campus climate. This council is also reconnecting with Women’s Studies and their affiliates and building sustainable relationships with our regional campuses.
With the benefit of a variety of lenses and perspectives, the newly formed Women’s Center Ac-tion Council has been focusing on creating positive change around issues impacting women in our community. We recently developed and launched the Women of Color Collective, an em-ployee resource group with the mission to provide a platform that fosters the professional devel-opment, mental wellness, networking and personal growth of women-identifying faculty and staff of color and their allies at Kent State. We are also looking into reproductive health equity in bene-fits policies and working with a number of offices on campus to review resources and advocate for pregnant and parenting members of our community. The scholarship working group is build-ing our scholarship portfolio and awarding students for their academic success as well as those with emergency need. The climate working group is looking into the needs of our graduate stu-dent population, who often get missed when we focus on students (primarily undergraduate) and faculty/staff populations. While this only represents a small portion of the collaborative work be-ing done, we are addressing a number of key issues that will make this campus a more welcom-ing and supportive environment for all women.
Being able to remain in the historic Williamson House has given us a unique opportunity to reflect on our history at Kent State and celebrate those individuals who have forged the way for women on this campus today. To celebrate and honor the many women who have come before us, we held an event entitled “Coming Home: Celebrating Women of Kent State” during homecoming weekend. With the help of the Kent State University library archives and others, we were able to share stories of amazing women and the many “1st” they represent over the years. Our hope is to continue to add to this collection of stories and artifacts to share annually at Homecoming and in March during Women’s History Month.
Thinking forward to those who are creating history today, we are also gearing up for what will be our 5th year of the Sage Award and our 10th year for the Mothers, Mentors and Muses event which both happen around Women’s History Month. The Sage Award honors Kent State stu-dents who have overcome adversity to find success, personally and in their educational pursuit. Mothers, Mentors and Muses is an event created to honor and celebrate female-identifying fac-ulty and staff at Kent State.
We look forward to continuing our work of empowering and celebrating women for who they are and what they have accomplished, recognizing the diversity of experience, access and repre-sentation among women and advocating for equity for all women.