Editor's Note: This article was updated on Sept. 1 to reflect the correct date for Love Your Body Day.
NC State’s Women’s Center kicks off a school year full of events and celebrations on Oct. 14 with the Women’s Center’s 30th Anniversary Party.
The Women’s Center is one of four Campus Community Centers under the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity and is a place that builds community, allies and leaders in pursuit of gender equity and social justice.
Staci Batchelor, a fourth-year studying horticultural science and sociology, and a student programming intern at the Women’s Center, describes the Center as a place for support, education and more.
“[The center] is this really inclusive space with a lot of services directed towards women, but they’re for anyone of any gender,” Batchelor said. “Anyone is welcome here. We have resources for people on campus who are survivors of interpersonal violence and other educational events that have to do with student empowerment.”
According to Janine Kossen, the interim director of the Women’s Center, the events and celebrations span a wide breadth.
“Throughout all of these events, we are looking at honoring our past, celebrating our present and envisioning our future,” Kossen said.
The anniversary celebrations begin with a celebration on Oct. 14: the Women’s Center’s 30th Anniversary Party. The party will include a coloring station, a dancing station, an affiliated student organization station, a paint-by-number mural station and more.
Another way the center is celebrating its anniversary is through a social media campaign that will last throughout the year.
“[Some] of the bigger things we’ll be sharing along with a basic history of the center include: ‘did you know?’ facts, things about the Women’s Center currently, short staff interviews as well as student workers,” Batchelor said. “That’s the basic structure of our 30th anniversary content. We really want to showcase what the center was, presently what’s going on with the center and also get feedback from students and staff on where we could progress.”
A major focus of the anniversary events is the Women’s Center’s history. Lisa LaBarbera-Mascote, the interim senior director of the Campus Community Centers, said students are the reason the center exists.
“We had a group of students in the late 1980s that worked to put the groundwork on campus in order to make sure their voices were heard by administration, and then getting key leaders connected, like Evelyn Reiman, ensuring that the provost saw the need for the Women’s Center here on campus,” LaBarbera-Mascote said.
A full overview of the history of the Women’s Center can be found on the Women Center’s website.
Another project the Women’s Center will be working on this year is one that involves highlighting those from the past who have been a part of the Women’s Center and did not receive recognition for their work.
“We’re digging into our archives and seeing what’s been in and around the work of the Women’s Center, and then looking at whose voices were missing,” Kossen said. “Whose stories were missing and whose weren't, and how we are going to rectify that. That’s a project we’re going to be working with the libraries on and then hopefully having an exhibit and panels to have discussions about history and stories.”
For this year’s Love Your Body Day, on Oct. 13, the Women’s Center will be using the book, “Rhetorics of Display” by Lawrence J. Prelli, to talk about how queer bodies have been represented in visual media in the past and present as a way to make change and participate in visual love.
LaBarbera-Mascote said it is important for the center to acknowledge its past in pursuit of its future.
“When you think about the founding of Women’s Center spaces, they are very white, straight women, and that is 100% a part of our past as a center, so what does that mean for us in the context of the work we do now and for the work we do moving forward?” LaBarbera-Mascote said. “Now we are a great community and vibrant space that is intersectional in nature and looking at not only [interpersonal violence] education but equity and ending oppression.”
Along with the 30th anniversary celebrations, the Women’s Center has other ways for students to get involved at the center.
Feminist Fridays began on Aug. 27 and will continue biweekly from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. These events are open discussions led by students on different topics that connect to a theory around feminism.
Kossen said the center’s education program, The Movement Peer Educators, is an important program that addresses interpersonal violence on campus.
“The Movement Peer Educators group is a great way to get involved too, and they are recruiting right now,” Kossen said. “Those are dedicated and passionate students who care about ending rape culture and other forms of interpersonal violence on campus. They host workshops with their peers around healthy relationships and consent and how to intervene as a bystander, so it’s a really good way for students who want to learn about those topics to come do a workshop or if they’re already passionate about that, they can apply to become a movement peer educator.”
Another one of the Women’s Center’s education programs is the Pack Survivor Support Alliance for faculty and staff. The program gives campus employees the tools they need if a student is in crisis and needs support in the classroom or workplace.
The Women’s Center will share more information about other celebrations and events throughout the year as details become available. Keep up with what the Women’s Center has going on by signing up for its newsletter and following the center on Instagram @ncsuwomenscenter.
LaBarbera-Mascote said she is excited to see the Women’s Center evolve.
“I’m excited about the future, because I just love to think about what’s next,” LaBarbera-Mascote said. “I think evolution is so important in the work that we’re doing, and I really value an opportunity to bring together multiple voices to be a part of that discussion. Anyone that spends significant time in this space and comes to programs, you can feel what the Women’s Center is and I wish everybody on campus had the opportunity to feel that.”