A step towards gender equity

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The Center for Women's and Gender Equity staff stand at the podium in the Scott-Willcoxon Hall.
The Center for Women's and Gender Equity staff introduce themselves to guests at their open house event. Photo by Mary Harbert.

The Center for Women’s and Gender Equity held its open house on Thursday to celebrate its 25th anniversary and debut its new name.

Previously known as the Women’s Resource Center, the staff at CWGE welcomed students to Scott-Willcoxon Hall to enjoy food, listen to music, collect some merchandise and learn about what resources they had to offer. A mixture of alumni, students and staff attended the event. UNC President Andy Feinstein made an appearance and addressed the importance of having the center on campus.

“This truly is a special moment in the 25-year history of this center,” Feinstein said. “It is important for us to have a place where we can talk about what gender equity means and how it affects our students, our faculty and our staff. And what better place to learn about these issues than at a university and at UNC? I, too, am a student on gender equity issues, and I’m looking forward to learning more from you and the rest of the community here.”

Feinstein stands at a podium and addresses the Center for Women's and Gender Equity name change while wearing a new CWGE shirt inside Scott-Willcoxon Hall.
President Andy Feinstein addresses the importance of being aware of and actively learning about gender equity issues. Photo by Mary Harbert.

After Feinstein’s short speech, the CWGE staff invited guests to enjoy the activities and food spread around the room and in the backyard.

The staff running the event were very courteous, welcoming people as they walked in and thanking them as they left. To bring attention to the name change, hung around the room were large letters spelling “CWGE.” Attendees were encouraged to write down words on sticky notes that made them think of the center that corresponded with the letters in the new acronym. For C, guests wrote “caring” and “calming,” and W was filled with words like “welcoming” and “warm.” Beyond the food tables filled with wings, sides and drinks, students played Giant Jenga set in the backyard and music played throughout the open house. The event concluded with a game of “Jeopardy!” with prizes for answering questions about the center correctly. The big prize was a Pop-Socket with the center’s new name engraved on it.

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Sarah Rodriquez, the associate director of CWGE, was heavily involved in the event, and described why the name change was necessary for the center.

“As a Women’s Resource Center, it was often told to us that it was a barrier to students who don’t identify as women and who still face oppression in their gender, like our trans, our non-binary, our queer friends,” Rodriquez said. “So, opening it up to ‘Women’s and Gender Equity’ really has welcomed and embraced a community beyond just women.”

The staff at the event continued to repeat the new name in order to make it stick with guests. By offering free sunglasses and t-shirts sporting the new logo, they are hoping to integrate the name to the entire campus. UNC freshman Brianne Hasui, gave her reaction to the new name.

“Obviously, changing names takes getting used to, but I think it’s cool that they’re expanding to include more genders,” Hasui said.

The CWGE still offers all of the resources it did under its previous name, including free pregnancy tests, contraceptive barriers and menstrual hygiene products for students.

“We’re hoping students also get to know that we are a resource for those things and come in and utilize us,” Rodriquez said.

The center is located at Scott-Willcoxon Hall at 1915 10th Ave. The office can be contacted at (970) 351-1492, and the center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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