The Women’s Center of Shippensburg University celebrated its 35th anniversary last Thursday, Sept. 23. Arielle Catron, director of the Women’s Center, hosted the celebration in Stewart Hall. There was food, fellowship and passionate messages from guest speakers.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the forward-thinking women in 1986,” SU President Charles Patterson said.
The Women’s Center was founded in 1986 in Horton Hall. The celebration began with a moment of silence for the victims of colonization and discrimination.
According to Catron, COVID-19 pushed unprecedented numbers of women out of the workforce. Catron said to help women, people should speak up when they hear “locker-room talk,” vote and get vaccinated.
“Women have been harder hit by the pandemic and have had to leave their jobs to support their families,” Catron said, adding that the pandemic also contributed to domestic violence.
According to UN Women, The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women, domestic violence reports and emergency calls have increased by 25% since social distancing measures began being enacted.
Alithia Zamantakis, director of SU’s Pride Center, urged attendees to examine the present moment even though society has made improvements for women. She called for health plans to include IVF (in vitro fertilization) and gender affirmation surgeries in the United States. She also pointed out Shippensburg University’s predominantly white campus and the presence of only one transgender woman on staff. According to Shippensburg University’s website, 93 percent of undergraduate students enrolled are Caucasian.
The event focused on the center’s accomplishments over the last 35 years, including the events they hosted.
One of these events is the annual tulip planting ceremony that honors domestic assault survivors. This year’s tulip planting will be on Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. in the Janie Fecker Garden by Lackhove Hall.
Another event Shippensburg University has participated in is the Clothesline Project, an effort to raise awareness for survivors of assault and abuse. The project is a visual display of violence statistics using colored T-shirts created by survivors or family members of victims of assault or abuse.
Finally, in 2006 the SU Women’s Consortium, a community within a statewide group, established the Student Emergency Fund, which provides small amounts of money to help students who are experiencing serious difficulties to meet their daily needs.
The Women’s Center, located on the first floor of Horton Hall, provides sexual assault and domestic violence counseling. They also have free condoms, pads and tampons available for individuals who need them. The Women’s Center also directs safe sex discussions in residence halls and feminine and personal hygiene talks for student athletes. For more information about the Women’s Center, visit their website at www.ship.edu/life/resources/womens-center/.