SU debates women’s centre

By Natalie Sit

A proposed women’s centre received tentative support from the Students’ Union.

Desiree Kopp spoke on behalf of the Campus Women Resource Centre at the Tue., Oct. 21 Students’ Legislative Council meeting. In a non-binding vote, 12 councillors supported a women’s centre in MacEwan Student Centre.

"It’s a clear indication to [SU Vice-President Operations and Finance] Gavin [Preston] to research further and come up with a solid solution," said SU President Jayna Gilchrist.

During her presentation, Kopp explained the need for a women’s centre.

"The University of Calgary needs a women’s centre because its service is essential to women’s education," said Kopp. "A women’s centre offers a women-only space where women can meet, removed from mainstream sexism and violence."

Kopp said the women’s centre could potentially offer services such as a library, workshops and access to feminist material. The centre would also provide a first-year mentor program to help out first-year female students and a parent locator program.

Gilchrist is concerned the women’s centre would duplicate services.

"I think counselling services could efficiently do the responsibilities the women’s centre proposes to do," said Gilchrist.

SU Vice-President Events Richard Bergen wondered if the CWRC was a club to which Kopp replied no.

"This is a student service," asserted Kopp. "Clubs come and go and we’re looking for the women’s centre to be concrete and stable over time. We’re looking for space, not funding. Anything larger than a closet is nice."

SU Events Commissioner Jennifer Smith asked how the women’s centre would "reduce segregation through segregation."

"Women need a women-only space," explained Kopp. "The rest of the university is for men and women."

Despite general support from council, the centre and SU face challenges such as an operating agreement. The establishment of the women’s centre in the current Conference Services space, on top of MSC, depends on the completion of currently scheduled construction projects such as the SU Used Bookstore and Copy Centre.

"I don’t believe it should be a priority," said Gilchrist. "It only assists half of the population."

According to Kopp, the women’s centre will have external funding and space will be provided at cost by the SU.