Guest Post: Women’s Resource Center Reflects On Their 3rd Birthday

October 21st, 2011

Time magazine has declared that “feminism is dead” 119 times since 1969. The BU Women’s Resource Center first opened in the early seventies. These conflicting facts lead to some interesting questions:

If feminism is over, then why a kick a dead horse 119 times?

If feminism is over, then why is the Women’s Resource Center thriving in the basement of the GSU?

And, finally, since it looks like feminism never really ended after all, how should feminist activism evolve and grow on our campus in the 21st century?

The Women’s Resource Center has had a tumultuous history. The original Women’s Center at BU was the product of the student activist movement of the 1960s and 70s. It held events such as Take Back the Night and was involved in protests against the Vietnam War. Pressures from BU’s administration and a lack of internal cohesion caused the original center to close. For 30 years, student activists worked to reopen the center, and in the mean time continued to advocate for women on campus. In fact, even many years after the original space closed, a student group called “The Women’s Center” persisted. In 2008, due to years of lobbying by students and by the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, as well as renewed support from the administration, BU transformed an oversized closet in the basement of the GSU into what is now the Women’s Resource Center.

Today, we are proud to be the among the only student-volunteer run campus women’s center in the country. We have a fourteen-person leadership committee and over 40 trained volunteers who keep the WRC open from 10 to 5 every weekday. In the past three years, we have held countless workshops discussions and have provided students with everything from free condoms to a lending library. BU awarded us “Student Group of the Year” in May 2011.

We’ve come a long way since re-opening in 2008. However, during the 30 years that the WRC lacked a space, we missed out on a lot. During the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, the feminist movement didn’t die out (sorry Time); it simply changed. The feminism of the 21st century, or “third wave” feminism, speaks the language of intersectionality. That is, it’s not just about women. In the Women’s Resource Center today, we recognize that gender intersects with sexuality, race, class, and a myriad of other cross-cutting identities. We are thinking about the confines of traditional masculinity. We are thinking about the rights of transgendered students. We are thinking about how women of different races experience different forms of gender discrimination. We see that there are many kinds of oppression, and that they are all tangled together.

The WRC continues to provide resources for women, and we always will. But we have evolved into a safe space that celebrates the entire spectrum of gender and sexuality. We seek to expand our community because we believe that being more inclusive can only make us stronger.

And while our own programming continues to focus on feminism, we have become a hub for other kinds of student activists at BU. Ten student activist groups meet regularly in our space–everyone from Amnesty International to the Queer Activist Collective to Democracy Matters. Recently, BU’s Occupy Boston movement began meeting in the WRC. We already serve as a gathering spot and community space for activists on our campus, and The Women’s Resource Center seeks to continue to create community between student activists on our campus.

Boston University has a history of being on the forefront of the social justice movement. We have always been co-educational. We were the first school to grant a Ph.D to a woman. Our most famous alumnus is Martin Luther King Jr., who is world-renowned for his revolutionary visions of social equality and the beloved community. He told us that “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.” As the Women’s Resource Center evolves and grows, we seek to bring our world one small step closer to that vision.

The Women’s Resource Center will be announcing some exciting changes at its 3rd Birthday Party this Friday, from 5-8pm. All are welcome.

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