Historically, CUNY has been at the forefront in establishing women’s centers on its college campuses, which focus on empowering and addressing the needs of its diverse women population through counseling, workshops, and referral services. Since the 1970s some of the Centers have opened and closed intermittently and their existence has been somewhat tenuous because of limited resources.
Today, there are ten Women’s Centers on CUNY campuses, three are based on community college campuses: BMCC, Kingsborough CC and LaGuardia CC; and seven at the senior colleges: Brooklyn, John Jay, Medgar Evers, Queens, York, College of Staten Island and at the Graduate Center.
The oldest women’s center in the U.S. was established at Brooklyn College in 1974. Staten Island Community College and Richmond College, which merged to become the College of Staten Island in 1976, founded some of the earliest Women’s Centers and Women’s Studies programs in the nation. The Queens College Women’s Center was founded in the 1970s to serve the college students, faculty and staff and the name Women’s Center was changed in the year 2000 to “Womyn’s Center”. Medgar Evers College’s Center for the Development of Women started in 1981, this Center was established at the bequest of the Crown Heights Community. In the 1990s, two other Women’s Resource Centers were established, Kingsborough Community College, which opened its doors in 1990 along with Borough of Manhattan Community College, established in 1991. By 1993, John Jay College created its first women’s center. The resources that the women’s centers operate with are limited in terms of funding and staffing. Two centers are student-run, Queens College Womyn’s Center and LaGuardia Student Women’s Center. At Hunter College, the Ellen Morse Tishman Women’s Center, established in 1983, with certified social workers and graduate interns providing confidential counseling and crisis intervention in such matters as sexual harassment, domestic violence, and sexual assault closed in 2004 due to budget cuts. Similarly, Baruch College’s women center, which was founded in 1978, has ceased to operate. Unofficially, York College had a women’s center since 1987, and in 1991 the Women’s Center was incorporated as a student-run organization, but the official date of the women’s center’s inception at York was in 1998 when a full time HEO was assigned.
The Brooklyn College Women’s Center is the oldest college women’s center in the U.S. By expanding the conventional direct services approach of traditional women’s centers which focuses on solving immediate crisis through referrals and/or counseling, the Brooklyn College Women’s Center is committed to adopting a wide-range of multi-dimensional needs-driven program activities that address the emotional, intellectual, physical and financial well-being of the whole person. Our challenge is to create, promote, and organize programs that raise awareness of women’s issues and in return empower participants to live a life that will reduce victimization, encourage self-sufficiency and independence, and model the skills to help women organize and sustain an environment of self-awareness where they are better able to maintain a healthy life style and make choices that will positively impact their own futures.
The College of Staten Island’s Women’s Center is dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of women students, to addressing gender-related issues, and to empowering women in order to strengthen the entire community. The Bertha Harris Women’s Center is named in honor of Bertha Harris (1937-2005): feminist, novelist, and teacher at Richmond College from 1972-1977. The Women’s Center provides a space on campus that fosters a network of support and communication among women, between women and men who share their concerns, and between students and faculty. We offer our webpage, with its message board, as a virtual gathering place to extend support to the Women’s Center’s community at times when students cannot be on campus. The message board is meant to be a sounding board for your voices, where you can discuss issues that affect your lives and suggest activities that the Bertha Harris Women’s Center might sponsor.
The Women’s Center is a safe space on campus for women and men to gather. We educate and support students through outreach, on-going individual and group counseling, providing referrals, educational programming, workshops, research projects and a Peer Leadership program with DayOne – a organization to end teen dating violence. Many programs, workshops, and lectures are co-sponsored with student clubs and other student services on campus. Previous programs include masculinity, sports and violence, anger management, the continuum of violence against women, films, healthy relationships, and a number of lectures on the status of women globally. The Center also co-sponsors conferences with state and city organizations.
The Center conducts research on dating violence in students’ lives and organizes students to conduct and post research and statistics on violence against women and women who have created social justice. The Center also distributes a $250,000 grant to assist female students with housing costs.
The Center for Women’s Development provides a supportive environment for women students, and assists them academically and socially. The Center provides counseling and advocacy in the following areas: rape, family violence, reproductive health issues, and parenting. The Center distributes information, makes referrals, and provides consultative services regarding parenting, childcare, women’s health, child support, sexual harassment, and male/female relationships. It offers assistance in coping as parents/students/employees through activities designed to provide education and information on women’s issues, as well as family issues of interest to the larger community. The Center has a library of books and audiovisual materials on women’s issues. Services are also available for male students.
The Women’s Center is a student-run organization located in the Student Union that organizes events and activities on women’s issues, campus safety, discrimination in the work force, gender, reproductive issues, and provides information and assistance to students. The Center works in close collaboration with the Queens College Women’s Studies program to educate students, faculty and staff.
The York College Women’s Center provides supportive services for the growth and development of women students as they pursue academic and lifelong goals. It meets the needs of women that fall outside the customary domains of academic departments by providing support and resources for women as they empower themselves and each other in the pursuit of their individual and collective goals.
Although services are primarily geared towards women, the Center is committed to providing programs and services for males of all ages and backgrounds. The Center services students, alumni, faculty, staff and its surrounding community without regard to gender, age, ethnicity, or religion.
Since 1977, the Center for the Study of Women and Society has promoted interdisciplinary feminist scholarship. The focus of the Center’s research agenda is the study of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class and nation in relationship to the experiences of women and men in societies around the world. The Center co-sponsors with the Women’s Studies Certificate Program intellectual exchange symposia and lectures— among scholars within CUNY as well as with visiting scholars. The Center also seeks to collaborate with grassroots and professional organizations.
The BMCC Women’s Resource Center sponsors activities designed to educate and provide information relating to women, the family, and community concerns. Special programs, seminars, and workshops, as well as individualized sessions are designed to address such concerns as wellness, domestic violence, substance abuse, stress management, parenting, relationships, and academics.
In addition, the center has weekly support groups facilitated by the center staff and a peer mentor program. The center also provides referral services to external social service agencies and acts as a network for resources within the college. Men and women are encouraged to visit us and participate in our programs.
The Center offers women and non-traditional students a welcoming, supportive environment in which to explore educational, professional, and lifestyle issues. It is an ideal place to meet and network with other students who are also working towards a successful transition to college.
The Center provides women and non-traditional students a place to gather, socialize, network and examine the transitioning lifestyles that will allow them to develop to their fullest potential. The non-traditional populations include Returning Adult and Midlife students, Veterans, Single Parents and Displaced Homemakers as well as others who might wish to explore the changing gender roles in our society.
The Center co-sponsors (in association with departments, programs and clubs), lectures, workshops, seminars and peer support groups that include: sexual harassment, domestic violence, stress management, legal issues, assertiveness training and leadership skills, health & wellness, financial planning and budgeting, parenting, career counseling and mentoring. Support groups are formed in response to students’ needs and schedules.
The Women’s Center at LaGuardia Community College serves as a symbol for the College’s commitment to inclusion and equal access for women faculty, staff, and students and as resource center for our community. Historically, the achievements of women have been unrecognized. Thanks to our “foremothers” who have fought relentlessly, LaGuardia Community students, have our own headquarters “The Women Center” to report to and congregate in. It is in here that ideas manifest so we can create events that will reach the minds and ears of our college students. As Women Center members, it is our goal to ignite awareness.