Kent State’s Women’s Center and the Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services office are adjusting to a newer, bigger space after their move to the Williamson House from the Carriage House earlier this summer.
“There were so many wonderful things about the space in the Carriage House in terms of the warmth, the idea that we were all in it together and our staff just grew even though the space didn’t,” said Cassie Pegg-Kirby, assistant director of the Women’s Center. “I think the reality was that we were outgrowing that space and there was going to be no opportunity to grow.”
In addition to a lack of space in the Carriage House, privacy and some pre-existing barriers created challenges for some students visiting the SRVSS office.
“We are a place for students who have been impacted by sexual violence and partner violence and one of the challenges in the other building was the fact that the building was known as the Women’s Center,” said Jennifer O’Connell, director of the university’s Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services. “So when you’d have transgender students or male students that were looking for a safe place and a place where they could go and get support, you already had a barrier before walking in the door.”
The move to Williamson House allowed for the SRVSS office to send out a new message. Although both the Women’s Center and SRVSS office are located in the same building and often times cross paths and collaborate, they are still two separate organizations, O’Connell said.
Now that the academic year has begun, both organizations will be able to begin marketing and expand to full capacity this semester.
“We could only market so much because we only had so much space,” Pegg-Kirby said. “The beginning of the school year was thinking about those challenges and moving into a bigger space. Now we can have a lot more people and we need to get the word out.”
The Women’s Center was one of many organizations that were affected by the cancellation of Kent State’s annual Blastoff recruiting event.
However, they are on track for an official Williamson House open house. The open house will represent both the Women’s Center and SRVSS offices, and will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 28.
The event will be open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.
“It’ll be a chance for people to walk around the building, see the different spaces and see what all we have to offer,” Pegg-Kirby said.
The Women’s Center plans to continue with their “Feminist Friday,” events, with hopes to expand these.
The center also plans to add “Talk About It Tuesdays” for international students, an event that allows them to openly discuss issues. Additionally, they will also be working in collaboration with the Center for Adult and Veteran Services’ LIFE program, a program for single parents, to hold study hours at the Williamson House.
SRVSS also plans to launch a peer educator program this semester for students to spread awareness and help educate their peers.
Adriona Murphy is the education, health and human services, contact her at [email protected]