WRC celebrates 10th anniversary

by Austin Zalkin | 11/24/98 6:00am

The Women's Resource Center will hold an open house party on Dec. 4 to celebrate its 10th anniversary of providing programming and support for female and male students, faculty and community members.

The WRC opened in September of 1988 after a College committee recommended to the College the value of having a center for women.

Italian, French and Comparative Literature Professor Marianne Hirsch, who served as chair of that committee and later on the advisory board of the WRC, said many students and faculty members in the 1980s expressed enthusiasm for establishing a center to meet the needs of everyone in the Dartmouth community.

But there were some objections to the center's founding.

"People said, 'Why isn't there a men's resource center?'" Hirsch said. "It was pointed out that a lot of Dartmouth College was a men's resource center."

Miranda Johnson '97, who worked at the WRC for two years, contended that a place like the center was necessary on a campus with a history like Dartmouth's.

"Even though Dartmouth has been coed for 25 years, it still isn't an equal place," she said.

In its 10 years of existence, the WRC has served the area in a number of ways.

Giavanna Munafo, the director of the WRC for the last four years, said the purpose of the WRC is threefold: "to celebrate women's achievements, to explore the role gender plays in everyone's life and to support individuals and groups in times of struggle."

This year, the center's programming focuses on positive new models concerning gender and women, according to Hirsch.

Munafo said the center has considered issues of race, sexual orientation and economic status in its lectures, film showings, workshops and discussions.

She said the center has also worked with sororities in its programming. "We put a lot of energy into reaching the Greek community," she said.

Johnson said she helped start a network for women students and alumnae during the two years she worked at the WRC.

The center also runs a program for young female faculty members. "We have a women faculty mentoring network whereby junior faculty women are paired with senior faculty outside their departments," Munafo said. "It helps them learn the ropes, and to think about tenure issues."

"I think for the faculty, it's been instrumental," Hirsch said.

The center has tried to be open to everyone, but this has been challenging at times, Munafo said.

"We don't have the resources to handle everyone who's coming," she said. "We're looking for financial support to do the things we want to do."

The WRC has also had to combat negative images, such as that of being a "radical feminist place," Johnson said.

Munafo said the WRC wants to increase its visibility on campus -- by offering more programs and by moving out of its current location in a small, ground-floor office between the Brown and Little residence halls.

"We would like the center located in a more central place on campus," Hirsch said.

"When the center was opened in 1988 we were put here as a temporary solution to a space problem," Munafo said. "We'll find a better space, but we're still looking."

But no one interviewed by The Dartmouth knew of any plans for a change of venue for the WRC.