By, Karen Flores, Staff Writer
On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center celebrated its third birthday since its founding in 2018.
The LWGRC, located in Kelly Commons Room 3C, is a safe place to talk about topics ranging from sexuality, careers, identity, body positivity as well as sexual assault, harassment and reproductive justice. This student-led community strives to promote feminism and social and gender justice and provide support to students of all gendered and racial identities.
Jordan Pascoe, Ph.D., associate professor of Philosophy, Women and Gender studies, and Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies, is the co-founder of LWGRC and was previously the co-director before stepping down this past spring.
Pascoe describes that the LWGRC had been an idea in the making since 2016.
“We always knew we needed to provide support to survivors of sexual and gender violence, that we needed advocacy for LGBTQ+ students, and that we needed to cultivate spaces for honest, open conversations about sex and sexuality at Manhattan — something that was totally unheard of when we started,” Pascoe said.
She worked alongside the students and administration at Manhattan and joined forces with other women and gender centers in Catholic universities around the nation to help build the center.
Before having its current space, Pascoe said the LWGRC was an informal group that would meet in her office and arranged events however they could. Now, the organization has its own space, staff, board of advisors and a strong leadership structure that allows for students and faculty members to have a balanced footing in order to support student voices. This has in turn allowed for student participation, events and advocacy projects to grow tremendously.
This past year, the LWGRC managed to keep their community running and even tripled the size of their student intern team in order to ensure that during the pandemic, students felt they still had the same sup- port despite being virtual and not being able to see each other. Before stepping down from her position this last spring, Pascoe described that she en- joyed working with students, but the most significant part of her involvement was the “student-led coalition-building and advocacy.”
The current co-directors are Evelyn Scaramella, associate professor of Spanish, and Rachel Cirelli, director of the Center for Career Development.
Cirelli, who began her role as co-director in the summer, said that now that everything is slowly shifting back into per- son, she is excited for all that is to come in the next few months and to get to know more about Manhattan College students.
“We’re an inclusive space and no matter what gender you identify as, we’re just a comfort- able, safe, supportive space,” Cirelli said. “We’d always like to meet more students, so come by and meet us.”
Amanda Touse, a Business Analytics major and member of the MC Women’s rowing team is an intern in the LWGRC.
“[The LWGRC is] very welcoming, encouraging, and [a] safe space with amazing individuals there who all want to see you thrive and be your happiest and most powerful self,” Touse said.
She notes that she is looking forward to holding all their programs in person again and to interacting with new people, sharing with them all that the LWGRC has offered and taught her about self-love and being a powerful woman.
As people ate food, decorated their laptops with self-empowering stickers and sat together in the center, everyone celebrated the success of the organization as a strong and supportive community, which is what the mission of the LWGRC is.
Chris Colavito, biology major, who heard of the LWGRC from the club fair with his friends who were at the celebration said that having a safe place on campus where he could fearlessly be himself was what makes it so special to him.
“The best thing about being a part of the LWGRC community is the ability to have a safe space on campus,” Colavito said.
The LWGRC holds events and programs that allow students to ask questions and to speak their truths in a place where there is no judgment. Love in the Dark is one of their most successful programs where students ask questions in regards to sex and have open and honest conversations about desire, sex and relationships. They also have #MeToo Mondays which is a peer-led support group for survivors of abuse that has been happening for two years. Other programs include Slow Burn and Agitating the Charism, all of which hope to support, teach and empower all that chose to join in.
For any questions in regards to the LWGRC and how to join, please contact email@example.com or feel free to stop by during office hours at Kelly Commons room 3C.