The genesis of the Center for Women Students, which provides a central focus for meeting the needs of women students, began with a recommendation from the Commission for Women in 1983. With President Bryce Jordan's support, as well as others, they identified important University-wide needs for the Center. The center, founded in 1985, works to build a supportive environment for women in the University's classrooms, other campus locations, research centers and in the community.
The Center for Women Students was conceptualized and is designed to provide a central focus for meeting the needs of women students. Although it is clear that all units within the University have a responsibility to address these needs, the Center for Women Students provides a point of entry where women students' concerns can be handled directly or referred to appropriate units within the University or local community.
The Center for Women Students has six primary objectives in meeting the needs of women students:
To advocate for women students and to bring to the attention of the University, the problems and issues of women students, including sexual harassment, treatment in the classroom, institutionalized sexism, sex-based discrimination, violence against women and other conditions which impede women students' personal and academic development.
To provide to the University, and to individual students, information about women's issues, to publicize widely all programs and services for women, and to make available current written materials about women.
To offer programs for and about women, and women's issues or coordinate the offering of such programs by other groups on topics such as classroom/campus climate, sexual harassment, violence against women, women of color issues, lesbian/bisexual women's civil rights, and other relevant topics.
Services and Referrals
To provide services to assist students who seek help at the Center for Women Students or refer them to appropriate helping agencies. CWS is a place where women students can go to seek support and assistance from the CWS staff and from other women.
Coordination with Existing Groups
To work closely, cooperatively, and extensively with other units and groups concerned with women, including:
- Women's Studies Department (College of Liberal Arts)
- the University's Commission for Women
- the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services
- the Paul Robeson Cultural Center
- the Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs
- Penn State for Adult Students
- and the Centre County Women's Resource Center
Liaison with Campuses
To serve as a resource for Penn State's other campuses on matters concerning women students.
The commitment to inclusion is a key component in all CWS Programs and services. The Center, in both philosophy and program implementation, is committed to be a multiracial unit serving all women students. Accordingly, this unit concerns itself with the issues of women doubly or multiply discriminated against on the basis of race or ethnicity, as well as by virtue of sexual orientation, disability or age.
Additionally, although the programs and services of the Center for Women Students are designed primarily for women students, such offerings are available to all students at the University. Men students, interested in and concerned about the problems and issues of women students are encouraged to participate in the Center's activities. Other members of the University and local community are also welcome to attend all educational programs of the Center for Women Students.