Women’s Centre changes concern students

By Brent Constantin

Members of the University of Calgary campus community are upset with what they see as plans to change the Women’s Resource Centre from its original intent.

For the past several months the U of C transitioned the WRC, located on the third floor of MacEwan Student Centre, to include a new Centre for Community-Engaged Learning ­– a campus service that operates a campus food share program as well as several volunteer initiatives.

Joëlle Robichaud is a WRC volunteer and creator of the “Save the WRC (University of Calgary)” Facebook page, which has seen almost 100 members join over four days as of press time. She said changes to the WRC raised concerns from volunteers who want to keep the organization working the way it has in the past.

“Over the summer there were some immediate changes that were done with very little acknowledgement of the volunteers,” said Robichaud. “As of now there are no more respect guidelines and there are no more gender reserve times.”

The WRC respect guidelines were created at the centre’s inception in 2006. Gender reserve time set aside certain hours when only “woman-bodied, woman-gendered” persons were allowed in the WRC, an environment that Robichaud said created a safe space for many. She added the volunteer base of the WRC is being cut in half from its previous level.

U of C associate vice-provost student and enrolment services Jennifer Quin said the changes are part of a process that has been in motion since last winter, when the WRC director resigned. Erin Kaipainen, then director of community service learning, took on both portfolios.

“We felt there was good synergy between those two programs,” said Quin.

“It doesn’t mean anything in terms of the programming that’s going out.”

Quin said all major events held by the WRC would continue under the new arrangement, even introducing a new “Person’s Day” in October. She feels that the merger is a way of getting more students into the space and increasing the access they have to these services.

Shelia O’Brien was involved in the creation of the WRC as a former special student life advisor to the president. O’Brien championed student areas at the school, seeing the value of non-academic spaces for the U of C.

“We raised $3 million dollars in the community and upgraded 40 student spaces,” said O’Brien. “In the context of doing this I realized that the U of C was really the only significant university in Canada that had not had a women’s resource centre.”

O’Brien and her husband donated a total of $100,000 to the school for the creation and continued success of the WRC, ensuring that it was one of the only spaces in North America designed to serve as solely a women’s centre.

“It was designed very specifically for that purpose and that was what the space was created to reflect,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien was contacted by the University regarding new signage for the space, but never informed of the elimination of key aspects of the centre, such as the gender specific time. She said these type of services are essential to how the WRC was as originally envisioned.

Quin said the policy of a women’s only time in the WRC wasn’t required and administration is looking at other ways of providing a safe space.

“We didn’t feel that it was appropriate to have a policy in place that excluded half of our student body from accessing a student service,” said Quin. “Instead what we’re doing is if a woman comes into the WRC and only wants to be around other women, then we have rooms within that centre that can be closed off.”

“It’s original mandate was to provide a safe, almost isolated space,” said Students’ Union president Lauren Webber, who noted that many females use the space as a refuge for emotional and cultural reasons. “The concern about it being compromised is something that we are definitely looking into.”

“We do think community service learning is a good idea,” said SU vice-president operations and finance James Delaney. “We question the wisdom of having the two in the same space.”

Fiona Nelson, coordinator of the U of C’s women’s studies program, argued that while the WRC did serve as a resource to the entire community, the Centre for Community Engaged learning seems to be simply another student space and she doesn’t see how the two fit together.

“It has an impact on the campus ethos,” said Nelson. “One, the loss of this gender focused space, but also the precedent that is created by the university administration on a space that has been designated for one use, that exists in the Students’ Union building and they’re taking it over and turning it into something else. In that sense it doesn’t matter that it’s the Women’s Centre, it could be anywhere.”

Quin said that she has been meeting with volunteers and others to address specific concerns about the new arrangement, but that most of the issues are more perception than reality.

“I do think there’s a lot of misinformation going around campus right now about these changes,” said Quin. “I think we put a lot of thought into formalizing this arrangement”

“As a member and as a founding member of the advisory committee to the WRC, none of us were informed or consulted,” said Nelson.

After news of changes to the WRC raised concerns with students, the SU also retracted plans for a planned referendum this October over the elimination of a Women’s Resource Centre Levy.

“The Board of Governors voted to move those fees into the non-program fee in April and so we vot[ed] it out so as to not double charge students,” said Webber.

Webber said the SU initially wanted to bring the $40,000 student levy to a by-election vote. Several weeks ago the SU was informed by the university that the WRC would share space with the new Centre for Community-Engaged Learning.

“We’re investigating right now,” said Webber. “Trying to get some formal, written agreement that the WRC will remain as it has been.”

Delaney said that the referendum to end the levy was postponed so as to not confuse the levy referendum with the SU’s support of the WRC.

The WRC’s mission is to “provide a safe and supportive place to advance women’s equality and build community through sharing.” Its signage changed in the last few weeks as the new Centre for Community-Engaged Learning opened inside.


  1. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following.

    unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly
    the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike.

  2. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
    I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.

    I will certainly return.

  3. Great blog here! Also your site loads up fast! What web host are you using?
    Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  4. Definitely consider that that you stated. Your favourite justification appeared to be at the web the simplest thing to be aware of.

    I say to you, I certainly get irked at the same time as other folks think about concerns that they plainly don’t know about.
    You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and
    also outlined out the whole thing without having side effect , other people could take a signal.
    Will likely be again to get more. Thanks

  5. You really make it seem really easy with your presentation however I find this matterto be actually one thing which I think I would never understand.It kind of feels too complicated and extremely vast forme. I am taking a look forward on your next publish, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

  6. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa?
    My blog addresses a lot of the same subjects as
    yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I
    look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

  7. I am sure this post has touched all the internet visitors, its really reallyfastidious paragraph on building up new web site.

  8. I’m not sure exactly why but this site is loading very slow for me.

    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end?

    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  9. Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.Please let me know. Thanks

  10. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It if truth be told was once a leisure account it.

    Glance advanced to far delivered agreeable from you! However,
    how can we be in contact?

  11. You have observed very interesting details ! ps nice website . “Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.” by Confucius.

  12. Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Extremely useful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information much.

    I was seeking this certain information for a very long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

  13. Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?

    A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog shine.
    Please let me know where you got your design.
    Many thanks

  14. Hello friends, how is everything, and what you would like
    to say on the topic of this paragraph, in my view its
    really awesome in support of me.

  15. Hi everybody, here every person is sharing such knowledge, thus it’s pleasant to read this blog, and I used to visit this web site everyday.

  16. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see
    if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views.
    I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it
    with someone!

  17. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering issues
    with your RSS. I don’t understand why I can’t subscribe to it.
    Is there anybody getting identical RSS problems?
    Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  18. This design is incredible! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog
    (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved
    what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  19. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your website.It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable forme to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme?Superb work!

  20. I’ve recently started a site, the info you provide on this website has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work. “If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.” by H. Ross Perot.

Leave a comment