The Women’s Center’s staff is considering changing its name in order to correct the misconception that the Women’s Center is solely for women or individuals who associate with the LGBT community and spread the message that anyone is welcome there.
“We haven’t decided to change it yet. We’re in the preliminary stages, so right now we’re trying to gauge the community to see if it’s something the community would be interested in,” said Genna Ayres, the Center’s coordinator for violence prevention. “I think it’s important for the name to represent our mission, and our mission is more diverse and more broad than our name currently reflects. I think it could be helpful in reaching out to students who don’t normally utilize our services but may benefit from or appreciate them.”
The Women’s Center offers many services for both male and female students, including offering 10-cent condoms, confidential peer listening, free emergency tampons and pads, a resource collection, and available meeting space for clubs.
The Women’s Center is interested in changing its name in order to reflect a more open environment where any gender is welcome. The Women’s Center recently created a survey, which can be found on Survey Monkey, in order to allow the community to weigh in. In the survey, students can suggest a potential name that they would like the staff to consider. Nearly 200 students have already participated.
Ayres believes that the Women’s Center’s name should be changed to better reflect their services, but points out that it will take time to achieve this goal.
“It will certainly be a process,” Ayres said about the potential name change. “This is not something that will happen this summer or next semester, or maybe even next year. It would have to start with discussions with the president and the board after the community has weighed in…It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Others from within the Women’s Center agreed that a name change would assist in bringing a broader group of students to the Women’s Center.
“Because of the name, some people feel that we only cater to a specific target group. There’s definitely a bigger issue than the name, but it would start a change and invite another type of demographic in here,” said junior Adlyn Maldonado, the office manager at the Women’s Center.
The staff hopes that a different name will change the way students view the Women’s Center and help them feel more welcome there.
“I’ve never gone there, probably because it’s called the Women’s Center,” said sophomore Rob Schaefer. “I’ve never really looked into it. If they made [the name] gender neutral, that would at least open up consideration of me going there. I’m not sure if I need their services, but I might at least think about it.”
However, freshman JoÃ£o “Juno” Zago thinks there is nothing wrong with being a male in the Women’s Center.
“I’ve been going there for enough time, and I never saw anything wrong with partaking in an institution that was called the Women’s Center,” Zago said. “So I suppose that if they would like to change the name, they might as well go ahead and use a gender-neutral term or one that’s more inclusive. Not that the Women’s Center hasn’t been inclusive, but if people want a name change, then let’s look at it in those terms.”
“We have students who are pushing for it, from both within and outside the Women’s Center,” Ayres said. “We’ve had a lot of pushing, so why not now?”