From 1986 to the present and 2000 to the present, the Evanston and Chicago Women's Centers, respectively, have served and advocated for undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty. Born out of the radical feminism of the 1970s, when the Evanston location opened its doors it shared space with what was then the Program on Women (and is now Gender and Sexuality Studies, a continued close-partner with a home of their own). As the Center continued to grow, its mission to provide "equity, justice, and equal opportunity" for all spread across campus. Under the leadership of June Terpstra (1986-1993), Renee Redd (1994-2016), Sekile Nzinga (2017-2021), and Sarah Brown (2021-the present), the Center has addressed sexism, racism, homophobia, and, most recently, transphobia and ableism, across both the Evanston and Chicago campuses.
Throughout its nearly forty years, the centers have pushed for more comprehensive sexual harassment and sexual assault policies and created affinity spaces for various constituencies seeking community, such as Black women, grads of color, new parents, queer parents, and more.
The Evanston Center has supported Take Back the Night since the 1980s, worked first to establish and then partner with offices such as CARE and Equity, and, until 2016, provided confidential counseling. Throughout its history, the Women's Center has continuously advocated for members of the LGBTQ+ community, provided resources and education on abortion rights, and supported survivors of sexual assault.
To put it succinctly, from 1986 to the present, the Women's Center has welcomed visitors “with couches, chairs and tables [. . .] piled with stacks of fliers and calendars promoting upcoming events," advancing the causes of those who have needed a platform and a listening ear (Chamberlain, Amy. “Women’s Studies: Women’s Center pushing NU to keep up with the times,” The Daily Northwestern, April 25, 1990).
Social justice, activism, feminism, intersectionality, outreach, and educational programming are at the heart of the Women's Center. From 1986 to the present, the directors, staff, and student workers that have come and gone have ensured that the Women's Center has continuously advocated for marginalized members of the Northwestern Community.
Voices of the Women's Center
The Women's Center has had many voices over our 30+ years. This short documentary, Voices of the Women's Center, shines a light on our accomplishments and our future.