The Women’s Center and LGBT Resource hosted their first joint open house in celebration of their new shared space in the Shepherd Union. The event was also co-hosted by the Nontraditional Student Center and Veteran Services.
The event included activities like Jenga, beanbag tossing and free refreshments.
TeraLynn Hill, a nursing student, was intrigued by the event after seeing Instagram posts.
“I’m trying to be more involved this semester, as much as I can,” Hill said. “I think this event is amazing because it’s a safe space; it offers a wide window of resources and allows everyone to connect.”
Alex Dutro-Maeda, the Women’s Center program specialist, helped organize the event.
“We all shuffled spaces over the summer, and I think this new space is going to be great in terms of our community building aspects,” Dutro-Maeda said.
The Women’s Center offers three programs: Safe@Weber, education and empowerment and leadership and engagement. The programs provide opportunities for students to gain experience and knowledge in a safe and open space.
“I think that students tend to think that they have to have knowledge on our programs when they come to an event, but really we’re looking to introduce students to these topics and start discussions,” Dutro-Maeda said.
Beyond programming, the Women’s Center is home to a resource pantry which includes menstrual products, safe sex kits and pregnancy tests.
The Women’s Center also provides advocacy services through their Safe@Weber program. Their advocacy services provide a space for students to openly discuss experiences of discrimination, harassment or violence.
“I want students to know that they are always welcome to come up here and attend our programs and take advantage of our resources,” Dutro-Maeda said. “Another misconception is that students think that men can’t participate; we welcome all genders.”
The LGBT Resource Center shares its offices with the Women’s Center. Similarly, they offer an abundance of services including a welcoming, safe environment for students.
Lily Black, a WSU freshman studying computer engineering, said her mom told her about the event.
“My mom got an email and sent it to me. I really like that I made one friend already,” Black said. “I feel pretty anxious in public being queer, and coming here I didn’t necessarily expect it because I can be kind of guarded, but I have come to be comfortable in the school and seeing this space kind of affirms that.”
Kaitlynn Denos, president of Gender Sexual Alliance, attended the event because the LGBT Resource Center is where she feels most comfortable.
“Spaces like LGTBQ and the Women’s Center are important,” Denos said. “For anyone that doesn’t feel comfortable, just know that we’re here, we love you, we appreciate you and you are valid. This is a safe place where you can be 100 hundred percent yourself.”
Denos said she was starting to come to terms with her sexuality during her sophomore year.
“I was just starting to come out more and the LGTBQ Resource Center was just a good place to be,” Denos said. “Everybody understood each other’s situation to an extent.”
WSU freshman Kenna Kershaw saw signs for the event around campus and attended to learn more about the resources the centers provided.
“I would call myself a feminist, and I always think that word sparks up interesting conversations,” Kershaw said. “I also have a few friends in the LGBTQ community, and I think that by getting involved it will help me understand more of where my friends are coming from.”