Women's Center Mission and Story
Since 1972, the mission of The Women’s Center has remained the same: to work towards equality of all people, to claim control over our bodies and lives, to challenge patriarchal power structures, to educate ourselves, and to support and celebrate our achievements. Additionally, The Women’s Center works intentionally to address and end the damaging impacts of an enforced gender binary. The space is open to people of all genders and identities interested in topics and issues broadly related to the experiences of women, the impacts of sexism and misogyny, and the role of gender in all of our lives; The Women’s Center particularly investigates gender at the intersections of other identities such as race, sexuality, class, and citizenship status. We are committed to intersectional feminism, fostering student leadership, and creating spaces to identify and understand societal structures that relate to issues of power, privilege, and oppression.
Students Michelle Delk & Mar Freeman worked with K. Martinez to design a new logo for the Women's Center, which is a graphical rendering of the Center's current building on 55 Talbot Ave. Throughout K.’s interview process and during their first few months at Tufts, students resoundingly stated that they felt like The Women’s Center was a “home” for them. Therefore, the logo reflects our intentions to create a home away from home for our community, and it further helps identify our space on the campus.
In 1892, the Board of Trustees first admitted women "on the same terms and conditions as men," decades before most universities were open to women at all. This status changed in 1910, when women officially matriculated to Jackson College, an on-campus women's college associated with Tufts. In 1980, Tufts became fully coeducational once again. Today, women make up more than half of each incoming class. Since 1972, the Women's Center has addressed matters of specific concern to women in order to create an atmosphere that is intentional, supportive, and intellectually rich. Because all of our lives are informed by our experience and understanding of gender and other aspects of identity, the Center is a space open to students of all genders and identities interested in topics and issues related to intersectional feminism, gender, and social justice.
Timeline of the Women's Center
- 1972 -The Women's Center officially received funding from the TCU Senate in December of 1972 for the upcoming fiscal year, a total of $700. This was $148 more than the Tufts Cheerleaders were budgeted.
- 1972 - In the spring of 1972, students were given a room in the basement lounge of Miller Hall for their Center. The Tufts University Abortion Action Coalition shared this space. The two-day opening of the Center occurred on March 3 and 4, 1972. The first official activity was a workshop and open discussion by Fair Williams, the topic of which was "Women and their Bodies."
- 1973 - The student group running the Center temporarily dissolved. It was again reformed in the fall of 1973 and was funded by the Senate.
- 1974 - In April of 1974 the Center found itself in a basement room of Curtis Hall, with a special counseling room located on a balcony of the building. Gail Koplow, a feminist therapist, was hired as Coordinator for the Center. The position of Health and Sexuality Coordinator was created in November, 1974. November 23-25 was the debut of the first annual Women's Film Festival. The Rape Collective was formed, as was the "Center as a Center" collective to make policy decisions for the Women's Center. Over the course of the year, the Women's Radio Program, initially titled Oasis, began to be broadcast from WMFO.
- 1975 - Out of the Ashes, a feminist literary magazine, was first published in the spring of 1975. Around the same time, public health nurse Ruth Shapshay was hired to work at the Center. Health and Sexuality Counselor Karen Edlund was hired in November of 1975, and the Center moved to the second floor of Curtis.
- 1976 - The Women's Community School was established by the Center in 1976 to promote "non-traditional skills for women" in the community and was funded through tuition. This same year, Tufts also received the Mellon Grant to promote "a broader perception of women's roles" on campus.
- 1977 - The first Women's Week was held in the Spring of 1977. In March of this year, the Women's Center Conference, coordinated by the Center, was held in Amherst. On April 2, 1977, a fire occurred in the Center. Luckily, damage was minimal. After the blaze, the Center relocated to the Bendetson Hall Annex in a room next to the Taberna, the former bookstore. Dean Tim Winant sought out a counseling room for the Center in Miner Hall and permitted the Center to remain in Bendetson.
- 1978 - The Center received another large budget cut from the Senate, and was again in jeopardy of losing paid staff. In the Fall of 1978, the Center was seeking a Health and Sexuality Counselor; Linda Luz-Alterman was hired and was paid by Tufts Health Services for 10 hours per week for the entire school year. Her office was located in Miner Hall. The counseling room was located in Brown House.
- 1979 - An advisory board of 15 students and faculty was established to guide the expansion of the Center. The Center received $4,075 from the Senate in funding for the next year, enough money to pay for a part-time Coordinator for the Center. The first "Take Back the Night" march was held on November 6. By spring of this year, the Collective was looking to move the Center to Curtis Hall. Fall of 1979 saw the Center relocated to Curtis Hall, this time occupying a lounge space behind what is now known as Brown and Brew. Peggy Barrett was hired as Health and Sexuality Counselor, and the publication, Women Centered, began a press run.
- 1980 - Women in Wilderness Leadership Training Project was established in 1980 and was funded through a membership fee. This program promoted women's leadership.
- 1985 - The Women's Center became an administrative office. Peggy Barrett was hired as director for one-half of her time and as administrator of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies for the other half.
- 1987 - Spring of 1987 was the first year of Beyond the Classroom, sponsored by The Women's Programs Board. In the fall, Public Safety received a grant of $18,831 from the Violence Against Women Act.
- 1988 - The Center's most recent (and permanent!) relocation occurred in 1988, this time to 55 Talbot Ave. It was also during this year that the Red Button was first given out.
- 1999 - In fall 1999, the Center received the first of four two-year grants, totaling over $1.3 million, from the Department of Justice for a Campus Violence Prevention Project (CVPP). From this grant, staff have created educational materials for students about violence against women with specific cultural contexts, coordinated services for victims of violence, and trained police officers about sexual assault, stalking and abusive relationships. We have worked with diverse communities including Asian American, Latino, African American, LGBT, Greek and athletes.
- 2000 - In the fall of 2000, the Latino Center moved to College Ave., and the Women's Center took over all of 55 Talbot.
- 2001 - Vagina Monologues debuted at Tufts in Spring, 2001. It was produced by Lisa Goodman as a senior project. Preceding the Monologues is Vulvapalooza, created by Erin Dwyer. The Student Sexual Assault Response Assistance, a rapid response student run crisis hotline was formed Fall, 2001.
- 2003 - The CVPP collaborates with the Athletics Department, Group of Six and Women Studies Department to produce two Public Service Announcements addressing violence prevention and awareness.
- 2004 - Production of three comprehensive brochures about sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking is finalized. The brochures are distributed annually to faculty, staff and students. The first CVPP coffee house takes place in October. This became an annual fall event to address issues of sexism, racism, classism and homophobia. Each year over 30 student performers and groups join forces with an international slam poetess in front of an audience of over 300. The coffeehouse succeeded in bringing together diverse students displaying their creative voices for a unifying cause.
- 2006 - After 27 years of service to Tufts, Peggy Barrett becomes the Director of Community Awareness and Prevention Programs at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Sue Gilbert becomes the Interim Director. The Women's Board holds its first annual Leadership for Social Change retreat at the Tufts LOJ in Woodstock, NH.
- 2008 - Steph Gauchel becomes Director of the Women's Center and introduces new programming that includes First Friday Lunch Series, Dinner and a Movie, Gender Lab, Socially conscious communal meals, and a Feminist Graduate and Undergraduate Reading Group.
- 2009 - The Women's Center Student Board under the direction of the Steph Gauchel redefines and renames itself as SAGE (Students Acting for Gender Equality), the Women's Center Student Collaborative. SAGE creates a mission statement and develops its goals. The Women's Center holds its first annual overnight retreat for SAGE at the Inn at Mill Falls in Meredith, NH.
- 2010 - The First Annual Women's Center Symposium on Gender and Culture, "Lady Gaga's Bad Romance With Feminism" is a huge success, with over 70 attendees and a keynote address by Professor Nancy Bauer (Philosophy).
- 2011 - SAGE wins the Jumbo Award for its work on gender-neutral housing policy and strengthening of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. 2011 SAGE works to optimize the TUPD Escort Service program to create the now GoSafe initiative (now known as SafeRide).
- 2013-2014 - SAGE develops the Peer Education program which offers peer led workshops to student groups on campus.
- 2014 - The First Year Mentoring Program at the Women's center becomes SAGE Advice, a program that pairs first years with upper class students to discuss transitioning to Tufts and navigating the social landscape
- 2014-2015 - SAGE holds the first Peer Education workshops: Mapping Gender and Intentional Space.
- 2016 - Steph Gauchel becomes Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the Harvard Divinity School. Bryn Gravitt serves as Interim Program Director.
- 2017 - K Martinez becomes Director of the Women's Center. POC Circle is created to hold a new, continuous space for people of color to informally work on community care, solidarity, and intentional coalition building. The Women's Center changes its logo to reflect it as a "home away from home."
- 2018 - K Martinez becomes Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Mazzoni Center.