Far, far away, in a little-trafficked corner of the MSU Union, exists a small suite of offices labeled as the Women’s Resource Center, or WRC. Select students know to wander up to the third floor, past the soothingly colored dentist-office type furniture into a friendly little office, staffed by charismatic women. Despite its seemingly remote location, the WRC is at the fingertips of all students at MSU. The problem is, not enough women know how much this friendly little corner of the Union has to offer.
At first glance, a center oriented specifically towards women may seem akin to the Women’s Lounge (also located in the Union) in being a relic of MSU’s past. After all, female students today take the same classes and write the same papers as their male counterparts. However, the WRC is not at all affiliated with the Women’s Lounge. In fact, the Women’s Resource Center is a relatively new concept, and was not established until 1992.
For some students, the WRC is unexplored. “I’ve never really heard of that,” kinesiology sophomore Jackie Lucas said. “It sounds a little sexist. I guess it could be useful if you had a problem, though.” Those who have heard of it seem to view it as a place one doesn’t venture to out of happenstance. “I heard that it was a pretty nice place to visit – I just haven’t had any need to go there yet,” history freshman Melissa Harless said. Perhaps the issue is people are confused about the WRC’s function on campus.
According to the organization’s Web site, “The Women’s Resource Center was developed to bring together and coordinate resources, advocacy for women’s issues, and women’s programs for faculty, staff, and students.” The WRC accomplishes this by sponsoring many activities on campus – everything from hosting women’s leadership conferences to supporting breast cancer research. The group works closely with the Women’s Advisory Committee to the Provost, which makes recommendations on topics such as MSU’s sexual harassment policy, support for athletic opportunities for women and the enhancement of women’s safety initiatives on campus. In addition to this, the center’s Personal Safety Coordinator, Dr. Jayne Schuiteman, deals with all sexual harassment cases on campus.
“I handle everything related to personal safety as far as sexual harassment or personal well-being goes,” Schuiteman said. Schuiteman’s work affects thousands of people each year, and she helps them in a variety of ways. “If necessary, I will cut through some of the red tape and investigate claims.”
One might assume the WRC would be greatly affected by recently passed Proposal 2. However, according to Schuiteman, that is not the case, mainly because the organization already caters to both sexes. Although Schuiteman is employed by the Women’s Resource Center, she also investigates claims of sexual harassment made by males. In fact, the WRC is much more male-friendly than its title may imply.
“We recently established the WRCMAC – Women’s Resource Center Men’s Advisory Committee,” Schuiteman said. “The WRC knows that men and women don’t live in separate vacuums, so we like to look at issues holistically. As far as our services go, women and men alike can take advantage of what it is we have to offer.”
[wrc13]MSU student Nicole Baer, a third year graduate student working on her master’s in social work, first ran into the WRC through internship experience with another campus organization. “When I interned with MSU Safe Place, we referred people to the Women’s Resource Center in many domestic violence cases involving people on campus,” she said. That’s where the work of Dr. Schuiteman, along with the WRC’s many workshops and programs, comes in.
Aside from working to aid sexual assault victims and branching out to the male gender, a primary project for the WRC is the Women’s Leadership Conference. This is a joint effort through several organizations, including the Women’s Initiative for Leadership Development, Residence Life, Student Life and the University Activities Board, along with the Women’s Resource Center. The event typically features several speakers, a banquet and a series of leadership workshops specifically oriented toward women. This year, the keynote speaker was Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the United States Army’s Combat Support Field. Kickbusch is a self-made woman who has gone on to achieve things many only dream of, and there were many other accomplished women leading workshops and giving speeches at this year’s Women’s Leadership Conference.
Nicole Bobiney attended a previous MSU Women’s Leadership Conference and she still remembers listening to keynote speaker Mary Ellen Sheets, founder of the national moving company Two Men and a Truck.
“It was really nice to talk to a woman who went out and started her own company from the ground up,” said Bobiney, a second-year graduate student in social work. Sheets spoke about how she worked her way to the top of a competitive field, despite her lack of knowledge about starting a corporation. And Bobiney was not the only one that found the conference inspirational.
“It was really empowering to be surrounded by so many powerful and professional women,” said Baer, who also attended the conference. This year’s conference took place on Nov. 11 at the Union. Any MSU student could attend by paying a $10 fee, $20 for non-students, and registering on the WRC’s Web site. [emily2]
An additional objective of the WRC, as stated on its Web site, is “to advance and publicize interesting and important programs and services for women, on campus, in the community, in Michigan, and nationally.”
Part of this involves supporting various charities. In addition to supporting several scholarships and fellowships, the WRC helps women on a broader scale. For its sixth year in a row, the center assembled a team for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a 5K walk organized by the American Cancer Society, to promote breast cancer and its research. To promote and raise additional money for the event, the WRC sponsors the year-round Cans for the Cure fundraiser, and all profits from the can-collection bins across campus go to the American Cancer Society in support of breast cancer research.
But for students like Bobiney, involvement with the WRC doesn’t stop at the occasional event or conference. Bobiney is one of the many students who have taken advantage of the WRC’s resources, including its resource library. The library features an extensive collection of books and videos related directly to issues surrounding women, and both Bobiney and Baer have used the materials to research for their classes.
On a chaotic campus, it is comforting to know such a center exists to inspire leadership and provide support; although the center is geared primarily toward women and women’s issues, the gender boundaries are being broken down. Whether a woman is suffering emotionally, looking to improve her leadership skills or searching for some inspiration, the Women’s Resource Center exists for these needs. The little-known nature of the office shouldn’t fool anybody about the center’s sense of purpose and its reach across campus.

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