President’s Council recommends center
October 6, 2011 1 Comment
by James Huddleston
Transylvania’s commitment to diversity will soon be realized in a new way — through the creation of a Center for Gender and Sexuality Issues.
The center (whose name may be shortened to simply Women’s Center) will provide support to transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual students and offer educational materials to the campus community on a variety of sexual orientation and gender issues.
The idea for the center originated from a focus group formed by the President’s Council whose job was to formulate a way to address gender and sexuality issues on Transy’s campus.
The group includes women’s studies faculty members Drs. Ellen Cox, Melissa Fortner and Simona Fojtová. These professors based their original discussion on two journal articles: “Out of the Classroom: A Chilly Campus Climate for Women?” by Roberta Hall and Bernice Sandler, and “The Campus Climate Revisited, Chilly for Women Faculty, Administrators, and Graduate Students,” also by Sandler.
“Part of our focus,” said Fojtová, “was to compare institutional resources devoted to promoting gender equity at Transy with other colleges.”
Both articles examine the persistence of gender stereotypes, inside and outside the classroom, at colleges and universities across the nation.
“Even though men and women are presumably exposed to common liberal arts curriculum and other educational programs during their undergraduate years,” note Hall and Sandler, “it would seem that these programs serve more to preserve, rather than reduce, stereotypic differences between men and women in behavior, personality, aspirations and achievement.”
Fojtová hopes that the establishment of the center will help eradicate some of the stereotypes about gender and sexuality that still plague college campuses, including Transy’s.
“In general terms,” Fojtová said, “creating a resource center will be one of the ways to address issues of gender inequality on campus by providing educational opportunities, workshops and training about gender and sexuality issues.”
Transy’s center will draw inspiration for its design and operation from existing centers at other colleges.
“The focus group has examined other colleges who have a resource center for gender and sexuality issues,” said Fojtová, “and will continue to learn from the experience of other colleges who have already created similar resource centers.”
The location and exact physical specifications of the center have not yet been determined. However, these details will be discussed in upcoming meetings, which both students and faculty are invited to attend.