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Duke's Women’s Center aims to foster education, intersectionality in new Bryan Center space

This is part three in a series profiling the identity centers at Duke, highlighting the work they do and their roles on campus. Part two, which focuses on Jewish Life at Duke, can be found here. Check back for more articles in coming weeks.

With its new location in the Bryan Center 101 Suite, the Women’s Center hopes to increase accessibility and engagement with the Duke community.

Director Krystal George wrote that “the Duke University Women’s Center’s mission is to promote a campus that supports, celebrates, engages, and collaborates with women, student groups, and stakeholders to build a Duke culture that centers gender equity, intersectionality, and social justice.” 

Georges anticipate a growth in attendance at events this year as the Center moves into a more visible space on campus. 

The Women’s Center has three overarching goals for the upcoming semester, according to George and Assistant Director Lydia McInnes. They hope to provide a comfortable gathering place for women students and allies with diverse needs and interests, to educate the community about gender equity and intersectionality, and to develop and empower women leaders to thrive in their efforts toward personal, academic, and career success.

This fall, through the implementation of QuadEx and Experiential Orientation for the Class of 2026, the Center was able to broaden their outreach. 

The Center also played an integral role in structuring new programming for incoming students involved in Project Identity & Culture, and facilitated training for over 600 RAs and orientation leaders, according to George. 

In pursuit of their goals, the Women’s Center hosts two types of programming: signature and recurring events. 

Signature events are centered around a theme and provide students with a chance to learn about gender equity, as well as form a community of peers and practice authentic leadership.

Signature events include the Black Women’s Dinner in November, the Salary Smart Workshop in February, the WomC Awards in March, and the Reproductive Justice Conference in March. 

On Sept. 10, the Center held its annual First Year Female Breakfast to welcome female-identifying students to campus. The event featured a speaker from the Pauli Murray Center for Social Justice. Another event, Rage and Riot, was held on Sept. 21 and focused on processing the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

As part of the Center’s recurring events programming, Wind Down Wednesdays are hosted roughly every other Wednesday from 4-6 p.m. in Bryan Center 101. These informal events are run by the Center’s student interns and feature crafts, snacks and conversations with peers. 

Programming beyond the Women’s Center

In addition to designing orientation curriculum, facilitating trainings and hosting events, the Women’s Center also collaborates with female-identified groups. 

A former partner was student group Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education. Eden Schumer, Trinity ’22, founded SHAPE in February 2020, and the Women’s Center served as a resource and collaborative partner to the group, providing strategic and emotional support. SHAPE is now supported by the newly-created Center for Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention. 

The Women’s Center also works with other identity groups on campus.

“Social justice work can only be done together and building coalitions is part of what makes us stronger as people and as Centers,” George wrote. 

Post-pandemic, the Women’s Center is working to revitalize student engagement and name recognition, expand collaboration with other identity centers and continue spreading the critical message.

“Gender equity is not just a female concern: it is everybody’s concern,” wrote George. 

Correction: A previous version of this article said that the Women's Center currently works with student group SHAPE. It has since been updated to reflect that since the creation of the Center for Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention, the Women's Center no longer supports SHAPE. The Chronicle regrets the error. 

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