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Georgia Houston and Livia Antalikova, two U of C masters students, will help transform the dusty old Chaplain's Centre into a safe gathering place for women on campus.
Johanna Hung/the Gauntlet

Women's Centre finds a home

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In mid-October the University of Calgary will officially have what every other major university in Canada already has: a centre for women.

The Campus Women's Resource Centre steering committee joined forces with Stantec Architecture and the Take Your Place project to build the centre in MacEwan Student Centre.

The Women's Resource Centre has been in the works for a year, with demolition of the existing space--the old multi-faith chaplain's centre--scheduled for the end of the summer.

Funding for the centre was donated in full by a sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous until the grand opening Oct. 18, National Person's Day.

U of C environmental design students Livia Antalikova and Georgia Houston were chosen to bring the space to life through their design.

"We chose to be involved as we felt that the centre was a much needed resource for women at the U of C," said Antalikova. "The Take Your Place project is centered around the idea of students designing for students. We felt that as female students we could contribute our ideas and hopefully represent a female student perspective."

The location of the space is also important, according to steering committee member and special advisor to the president on student life Sheila O'Brien.

"The really key issue for us was making sure the women's centre is in Mac Hall," said O'Brien. "That's the center of campus, that's where most people can gather, it's very high profile, and it's not associated with a faculty. It's a neutral space, which is very important for this facility."

The space will incorporate a meeting room, a small kitchenette/bistro and a lounge area for more informal discussions.

"Our biggest challenge so far has probably been keeping our design within the given budget," said Houston. "Another challenge for us has been working with quite a small space to create the feeling that is both open yet secure, and flexible enough to be comfortable for small, casual, intimate meetings as well as for larger meetings, presentations and workshops."

"We want the women who come to the centre to feel welcome, safe, comfortable and empowered," said Antalikova. "Ideally, we picture the Women's Resource Centre as a place where all the women on campus can meet and discuss current issues that affect them personally as well as nationally and globally."

The women's centre will offer support services, announcements relating to women, guest speakers and the open lounge space for discussion.

Since the deal was made with the Students' Union last year, current SU president Emily Wyatt said this year's SU is not involved with the project.

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Comments

Congratulations to everyone involved in making this Women's Centre a reality! I have seen so many people put in tons of time and effort, and it is wonderful to see this come to fruition. This service will benefit so many, and I'm very pleased we will no longer be the last University in Canada without a women's centre. Good luck with the launch and all its future successes!