Celebrating the Women Who Have Had an Impact on Kent State University
After fears that the Williamson House, home of Kent State University’s Women’s Center, might be coming down were put to rest, relief was not the only thing that the center’s staff found.
The staff discovered an insatiable craving to unearth and tell the history of the Women’s Center and the women who have had an impact on the history of the university.
“As I was looking through the history of the Women’s Center, it got me thinking how many stories potentially get lost if you’re not actively trying to preserve something,” says Cassandra Pegg-Kirby, director of the Women’s Center.
Since 1996, the Kent State University Women’s Center has supported students, staff and faculty with advocacy, resources and education. The center has given women the tools to grow and tell their stories.
Now, the center wants to share in the storytelling and embark on a journey to celebrate not just the women who come into the center, but decades of women who have left a legacy at Kent State.
“It’s because of the efforts and the individual contributions of people over the years that really get us to the place we are today,” says Ms. Pegg-Kirby.
After speaking with friends, colleagues and coworkers, Ms. Pegg-Kirby decided that the best way to celebrate the women of Kent State would be a kickoff event during homecoming weekend where attendees can mingle, connect, enjoy refreshments and look at the project the center has put together.
However, this project will last substantially longer than the one weekend of homecoming.
“I would really like this to evolve as a project that’s not going to have an end date to it, but something that we start now and continue to add to,” Ms. Pegg-Kirby says. “I would like to start it with a timeline at homecoming and bring it back out again during Women’s History Month.”
Ms. Pegg-Kirby hopes to display the legacy of female trailblazers on campus with a gigantic, physical timeline going decade by decade.
The center is hoping to build the timeline with mementos, photographs and later work through photo albums and even extend to an online version to include video and audio.
“There’s no agenda attached to it. It’s about looking at all of the people who have impacted this institution in terms of the women involved, or even as we look through and discover men who were advocating for issues that were impacting women,” Ms. Pegg-Kirby says.
Ms. Pegg-Kirby has reached out to the Kent Historical Society and University Archives in the library in order to extend this project beyond campus grounds.
“This isn’t owned by the Women’s Center, we’re just a place that can facilitate this and capture this celebration of women,” Ms. Pegg-Kirby says. “I think it’s really exciting because it’s not just our perspective on things.”
The Women’s Center often works in community-building, and staff hope that the timeline and celebration can bring people together while honoring those who have come before them to recognize their accomplishments.
From athletics to academia, Kent State has had its share of trailblazing women and setting the stage for progress, even when the environment wasn’t encouraging for women to find their voices. Ms. Pegg-Kirby and the Women’s Center hopes this only will continue to grow.
“People were willing to stand up for what they thought was important, and it’s really inspiring to know that those are the shoulders that we stand on as we move forward,” Ms. Pegg-Kirby says. “These people who have impacted change throughout the ages were and are here at Kent State.”
The Women’s Center will host Coming Home: Celebrating Women of Kent State on Friday, Oct. 5, 5-7 p.m. at the Williamson House, located on 1200 E. Main Street.
To register for the free event, visit https://www.kent.edu/womenscenter/coming-home-celebrating-women-kent-state.
To learn more about the Women’s Center, visit https://www.kent.edu/womenscenter.