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Campus and Community Invited to Open House
for New Women's and Gender Equity Center

RELEASED: Sept. 12, 2005

EAU CLAIRE — The new Women's and Gender Equity Center, which opened this month on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus, will hold an open house from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16.

The WAGE Center's mission is to advocate for the welfare of those who have historically been marginalized because of the sexual and/or gender identity. The campus community and general public are invited to tour the center, located in OL 2101 and 2103, the Old Library section adjacent to McIntyre Library, and learn about the services and programs it will provide.

According to Dr. Kimberly Barrett, associate vice chancellor, Student Development and Diversity, focus groups initiated by the Commission on the Status of Women served as the impetus for the creation of the center.

"The research done by the focus groups indicated a need to systematically address issues such as childcare and work/life balance, sexual health and reproductive rights, eating disorders, sexual and physical violence, and general campus climate concerns related to gender," said Barrett. "The university setting provides a unique opportunity to explore the issues of gender inequity and heterosexism and develop models for interacting with one another that promote equity on campus and in the larger society."

WAGE Center coordinators Traci Thomas-Card, Eau Claire, and Erin Polnaszek, Thorp, said the center will provide a supportive environment that fosters feelings of good will, tolerance and respect for people of all religions, races, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender.

"One of the main goals of the WAGE Center is to act as an information clearing house and referral source, ensuring a strong communication link between campus organizations, department offices and university administration in regards to gender issues," said Thomas-Card, who is pursuing a master's degree in English literature. "The WAGE Center will be responsible for implementation of programs and services that will focus on these issues, both individually and in collaboration with these other areas of the University. We offer a safe space and have put together a contact and referral list offering individuals assistance on a range of issues, and a lending library of books, magazines and films on gender and gender-related subjects."

Polnaszek, also a graduate student in English, said the center will also monitor and respond to the changing needs of UW-Eau Claire students, using such tools as surveys, focus groups and informal inquiries.

"Students also will be able to participate through the First Year Experience program, support groups, training workshops, book discussions and presentations by guest speakers," said Polnaszek. "We also will be providing opportunities for internships, and students can fulfill service-learning requirements by assisting in the center office."

The theme for the WAGE Center for the 2005-06 academic year is "Generation Gender: Leading Ideas," which will focus on transformative leadership that promotes empowerment and gender equity. Activities will include a leadership speaker series, workshops, and a variety of outreach programs related to the topic.

The center also will participate in many of the programs already held annually at the university, such as Women's History Month, V-Day, National Coming Out Day, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and National Eating Disorder Awareness Month. A full calendar of events can be viewed at the WAGE Web site.

The WAGE Center, which is funded through support provided by the UW-Eau Claire differential tuition program, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 8 a.m. to noon Fridays. The center includes a lounge area available for student meetings. Staff members are also available by appointment and on call 24 hours a day by calling (715) 225-4571. Send e-mail to wage@uwec.edu or thomastl@uwec.edu or polnasee@uwec.edu.

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NW

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