GV Women’s Center celebrates 10th anniversary

GVL Archive
Students use the Womens Center located in the Kirkhof Center

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Students use the Women’s Center located in the Kirkhof Center

Anya Zentmeyer

Originating from humble beginnings and housed in the confines of Dean of Students office, the Women’s Center has reached its 10th anniversary milestone at Grand Valley State University.

“We’re using the anniversary as a time to say ‘thank you’ to talk the people who have invested in our mission,” said Marlene Kowalski Braun, director of the Women’s Center. “One thing that’s always been clear to us is that if it was based on the size of the staff alone, we wouldn’t be able to do as much as we do.”

Since it began 10 years ago, the Women’s Center has hosted more than 600 programs, raised more than $100,000 for organizations that work with women and girls, aided dozens of non-profit agencies, helped 65 students develop feminist leadership skills through its 2003 Ambassador Program and marched more than 1,700 students annually in the Eyes Wide Open event Take Back the Night, which began in 2002.

Their mission, “to create meaningful learning around gender and to advocate for gender justice through the education, engagement and empowerment of women students and the greater GVSU community,” sleeps beneath all of the work done at the Women’s Center.

“Gender justice has been at the core of work,” Kowalski Braun said.

Right now, the center is wrapping up their 10th Anniversary speaker series with associate professor of women’s studies Anna Louis Keating’s speech on women and spiritual activism.

In addition, the Women’s Center is in the process of producing a video as well as an “Our Stories” series that will tell the stories of students, faculty, staff and community that have been touched by the Women’s Center at their March event, EqualiTEA.

This year, the group has founded the Women’s Center Enrichment Circle, established to aid in providing the center with the financial resources to help support plans coming up in the next 10 years. A $1,000 donation inducts an individual into the Women’s Center Enrichment Circle, and will be recognized on a glass plaque that will hang in the Women’s Center.

The Women’s Center is also in the process of producing an annual report, with an anticipated finish-date of Feb. 20, which Kowalski Braun said will help tell the Women’s Center’s story through first-hand accounts, news stories written about the center and updates on their various on and off-campus initiatives.

“I think we continuing to just create space for students to become their fullest selves, and gender identity and gender equality is a part of that,” Kowalski Braun said. “So part of it is about individual development and recognizing that the university has created a space for students to grow personally. But since we’re also so closely tied to the academic mission, we’ve been able to educate and advocate on gender issues in society on a broader spectrum.”

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