Some demand better funding for WRC
A more centrally located and well-staffed Women's Resource Center was among the demands at the student protest outside Parkhurst Hall on Friday afternoon. Frustration about the insufficient facilities of the WRC has been brewing for over a decade, and last week's protest was the first time these longstanding inadequacies were publicly voiced this year at Dartmouth.
By "galvanizing a base of students to proactively affect change," the protest awakened the interest of those dedicated to the WRC to "how invisible the WRC is on campus," Katie Oliviero '01, programming intern at the WRC, said.
A major cause for concern of the WRC is the present paucity of staff members. Giovanna Munafo, director of the WRC, said that the lack of "professional bodies to do all the things that we really see a need for" precludes effective and widespread functioning.
An inconvenient location is also at the top of the list of WRC qualms. The WRC office is located far from the center of campus, in the Choates cluster.
The current office was given to the WRC in 1988 as a temporary location when other projects on campus were given top priority, Munafo said, and to this day the WRC remains in this location. "For us to be more effective and reach a much broader population on campus, it would be important to be in a location that was more accessible and visible to people," Munafo said.
More space is also high on the list of WRC demands. Munafo asserted that the square footage of the office precludes the organization from accommodating a variety of activities, like meetings and workshops.
Advocates for a more central and better funded WRC feel if their demand is met it could have a positive influence on the Dartmouth campus.
"A lot of people feel like if we gave the WRC the space and the funding that it deserves, this is the type of campus that it could have a really meaningful impact on," Hillary Miller '02, who helped to organize the protest, said.
Miller asserted that the WRC should be prominent on a campus which went co-ed only in recent decades. "There is still more work to do on campus," she continued. "Ideally, a WRC on a campus would function not just as a function for women, but also to bring in other people."
The WRC is currently slated to recieve an office space in the Collis Student Center once the new design is instituted, which may be a large step for the WRC in terms of reaching a wider array of students. Still, Munafo is afraid that in their new office, the WRC might possibly lose its "homely" and "comfy" space.
Oliviero, who helped in organizing Friday's protest (although not as a WRC representative), is optimistic about the future of the WRC in terms of meeting some of the demands.
"I am hopeful that integral changes to the WRC and to gender relations at Dartmouth will be instituted structurally, academically and socially, but I do think that one of the keys in this is that they are not discrete changes, but they are all interlinked and need to be approached as such," she said.
In an effort to integrate gender issues on campus with other organizations on campus, a structural shift was implemented last summer in which the WRC was reallocated under the Dean of Student Life, as opposed to the Dean of the College.
Another shift included the WRC into a team, consisting of advisors to each community group: Advisor to Community of Color (Latino students), Advisor to the African American Community, Advisor to the Asian and Pacific American Community, LGBT Advisor, Director of Native American Program and Director of the WRC. The advisor to each community was made into a full-time professional position, and therefore each group has had more efficient supervision.
Also in recent years, the WRC has received more support through the Student Life Initiative. Munafo said the WRC has gotten more institutional support, budget for programming and the aforementioned guarantee of better location once construction is completed.