Women’s Center settled in

After relocating to a new space this past fall, The Women’s Resource Center is finally starting to feel comfortable. Now in a cavernous space in the basement of Montgomery Hall, memories of the “closet” office next to Food For Thought Cafe are fading fast as their busiest time of year is approaching.

In the past, there wasn’t enough room for everyone to sit down in the tiny meeting area during the weekly Stitch ‘n’ Bitch session. Just a few feet away were the cramped desks of staff members, practically on top of one another.

Last year, the WRC saw a 400 percent increase in users taking advantage of their offerings. Future events include The Vagina Monologues, International Women’s Day and Take Back the Night. The Returning Women’s Program has also enjoyed growth of late, expanding the mentoring program and adding classes each term offered through the Women’s Studies Department. Additionally, the Interpersonal Violence Advocacy Program has developed an interactive outreach program.

The staff at the center hopes to see more people come through their doors, knowing there is a long way to go before their space is fully utilized. The airy room is filled with couches and comfy chairs, and is a perfect place to go to study and spend time with friends, new and old. Particularly important to the staff is a sense of openness, and that everyone is welcome.

The WRC came into being back in 1970, as part of the women’s liberation movement on campus. It remained a student group until 2002, when it became a service group under the office of student affairs, hiring Aimee Shattuck as its staff coordinator. “It took that long because the students wanted to keep control of what was going on. They didn’t want to give that up to a staff person from the school,” Shattuck said, still in her position today. Shattuck is a Portland State graduate, who got involved with the WRC in the late nineties as a student.

“It was kind of comical considering that the multi-cultural center had a big, gigantic, beautiful space, with windows, right in the middle of Smith. And there are more white kids that go to this school than multi-cultural kids, but over half are women – Look at all the money that these minority groups are getting, when the majority group isn’t getting any money,” said Amy Theberge, student assistant coordinator at the women’s center.

Theberge also puts together the She Sheet, a monthly newsletter highlighting women’s issues in the community. Recently, an electronic publications assistant began making the She Sheet available online, ending the days of distributing paper copies all over campus.

Funding is not as much of a challenge anymore. With such a documented increase in student use, the Center will likely have a $60,000 increase in next years budget, allowing for a new position to be created, a three-fourths time volunteer coordinator. Aimee Shattuck’s position as coordinator of the Women’s Center will become full-time.

Right now, The Women’s Resource Center is humming with activity, looking toward the big events coming up in the next few months and to positive organizational changes for the year to come.