Women's Resource Centre returns to own space

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After months of student and community protest, the Women's Resource Centre will once again be its own separate facility, no longer merged with the Centre for Community-Engaged Learning.

"We've been working at finding additional spaces for student services all year," said associate vice-provost of student services Jennifer Quin. "When the student success centre moves into the Taylor Family Digital Library, we will have some additional space up on the fourth floor. We are going to be moving the community service function into that space. The exact floor-plan of the fourth floor has yet to be determined, but there will be a better sense of the space when the student success centre moves out."

WRC and CCEL director Erin Kaipainen declined to comment.

Mechanical problems in the TFDL have caused delays in moving the CCEL. The university hopes to complete the move by either late August or early September.

WRC volunteer and culture and society master student Melanie Carroll hopes the CCEL will move to its own space as soon as possible.

"We are all very pleased that the university has recognized the importance of maintaining a space for female students, staff, faculty and community members, as well as a space for advancing women's equality and providing gender-based programming and services," said Carroll. "We always wanted to find community service learning its own space. As the program has grown this year and become more and more popular, it became more and more critical that we find a bigger space."

The CCEL was created in 2008 and has been sharing space with the WRC since early fall 2010.

"Both definitely deserve their own space," said Students' Union president Lauren Webber. "They have lots of volunteers in both. I think it would be useful and they deserve it."

There had been concerns expressed by students that the WRC required its own space when the CCEL moved in last summer, resulting in a petition from students and community to split the services.

"Two of our major concerns from the beginning have been maintaining a safe and supportive space for women and providing adequate resources, primarily in the form of staffing," said Carroll. "The combining of the WRC and CCEL has changed the nature and feel of the space because of the lack of commitment to maintaining it as a safe space for women."

Carroll said some of the biggest issues with the combined space were the removal of gender-reserved times and increased traffic for non-gender related programs.

Carroll said the absence of a director solely focused on the centre has caused programming to suffer. The WRC was unable to run their Women-Guiding-Women mentorship program this year.