The University of Akron should have a women's center

“The University of Akron’s Women’s Studies program serves multiple roles to the campus community. It serves academic purposes, offering certificates for minors. It produces, organizes and facilitates programs focusing on a variety of women-centered topics.”

The University of Akron’s Women’s Studies program serves multiple roles to the campus community.

It serves academic purposes, offering certificates for minors.

It produces, organizes and facilitates programs focusing on a variety of women-centered topics.

Finally, it provides resources for women’s personal, academic and/or professional development and success.

And while our Women’s Studies program performs all these tasks, neighboring colleges and universities divide these roles between two different on-campus locations: the academic department, primarily focusing on education, and the women’s center, predominantly focusing on programming, advocacy and resources.

Patricia Millhoff, Director of the Women’s Studies Program, stated: I think the University of Akron needs a women’s center to address the many issues concerning women in this campus community and the extended Akron community.

Other colleges in our surrounding area have a division between their academic departments and their other programming.

She’s correct. ‘Ms.’ magazine’s Spring 2009 issue listed fourteen schools in Ohio offering undergraduate majors and graduate degrees in women’s studies.

And according to the National Women’s Studies Association’s (NWSA) listing of women’s centers, of these fourteen, twelve have women’s centers: Bowling Green State University, Case Western Reserve University, College of Wooster, Denison University, Miami University, Ohio State University, Ohio Wesleyan University, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, University of Toledo and Wright State University.

NWSA’s listing also shows that there are nine other colleges/universities in Ohio, not documented in ‘MS.’ as offering an academic program, that still have Women’s Centers on their campuses.

These include Kent State University and Youngstown State University, just around the corner from us.

Kent State University’s women’s center has a short but sweet purpose: supporting all women on campus-faculty, staff and students… and to empower women to succeed.

They focus on four areas: health, advocacy, academic and professional development and support.

They offer annual mammogram screenings, sponsor educational programs by women and for women, provide a scholarship fund for undergraduate women and much more.

Miami University’s center has a very similar mission.

Their center includes a resource library with more than 2,500 books written by women, about women or relating to women’s issues that is available to all students.

Miami’s center also works closely with Sexual Assault Services on campus.

If you continue to peruse the Web sites for campus women’s centers, you’ll find they all have very similar purposes and provide very similar services.

But all of them are separate from academic departments and they reach out to a greater pool of students. Those they do reach, they serve well.

Lisa Rismiller, Director of the Women’s Center at the University of Dayton and an NWSA center evaluator and consultant, says that if students needs are properly identified and met by the center, women students will be academically enriched, better prepared to meet the demands of the work world and ‘retained’ by the institution at a higher rate.

The University of Akron is seriously missing out.

With the women’s studies program’s primary focus being academics, other areas like programming and support are less able to be fully promoted and widely available to all of the University’s female students.

But with a women’s center, a larger population could be served; programming and resources more attended to; and the academic program could focus on its sole function: education.

The University of Akron should have a women’s center. The students deserve one.