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Women's Center Focused but Inclusive
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
Many students start the academic year looking for new ways to get involved. For some, this presents a challenge. Where do my interests lie? What am I passionate about?
For Edith Kwok ’11 of North Andover, Mass., joining the Women’s Center at Bentley was an easy decision. She met members of the center’s executive board at a fall activities fair in her freshman year.
“They were extremely friendly and welcoming,” she says. “I decided to attend a meeting, and I haven’t looked back.”
The Women’s Center serves the Bentley community in many ways. It is a meeting place for students to facilitate discussion of women’s, gender and diversity issues; to learn more about women’s studies; and to find support among like-minded peers.
“The center works to promote balance on campus,” says Stephanie Kendall, a psychologist in the Office of Counseling and Student Development who shares advising duties for the center with adjunct professor Traci Abbott. “It is a safe space for students to share personal stories and learn more about women’s and gender issues. There is a component that is about making life better for women and men.”
Kwok, now a senior, is the center’s chairperson. Her passion for gender-focused issues is apparent, but she is quick to stress the center’s inclusive mission.
“We encourage understanding and acceptance through a variety of programs and initiatives,” says the Management and Liberal Studies major. “Our staff is crisis-trained, and we work closely with the Office of Counseling and Student Development to learn how to refer students for additional assistance.”
A recent visit to the Women’s Center, located on the first floor of the LaCava Center, found students balancing laptops and books in well-cushioned chairs. There are regular daily hours for any student to drop by and peruse an extensive library of salient resources, chat with a trained staff person, or find a comfortable spot to study or eat lunch with friends.
Events to Remember
Hosting events is another way the center trains a spotlight on women’s and gender issues. Examples include Love Your Body Day, which aimed to increase self-awareness and promote health and wellness.
One Women’s Center-sponsored event is popular on campuses nationwide: Take Back the Night. This conduit for speaking out against sexual violence includes a candlelight vigil, a walk, and an open microphone forum.
“Take Back the Night makes a significant impact on campus and educates students about serious topics such as domestic violence and rape,” explains Kwok, noting the many campus organizations that support the initiative, including Sigma Pi, Delta Phi Epsilon, the Sexual Assault Task Force, and University Police.
As she prepares to graduate in the spring, Kwok looks forward to following the progress of the Women’s Center in the years to come.
“It’s only going to get better from here,” she predicts.
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.