Shura Gat, associate dean of students and director of the recently renamed Gender Equity Resource Center, poses at their office in Willard Straight Hall.

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New name for Women’s Resource Center reflects expanded support

As part of an ongoing goal to better meet the needs of both women and students who identify outside the gender binary, The Women’s Resource Center was renamed the Gender Equity Resource Center on August 7, 2023.

The Gender Equity Resource Center, still located on the second floor of Willard Straight Hall, continues to promote a campus community of belonging for women, as well as for students who identify as trans, nonbinary, agender, genderfluid and genderqueer. With the change, the ongoing commitment of the center to support all gender-marginalized students at Cornell is now reflected in its name.

“The new name continues a conversation and framework for discussing and responding to the issues impacting women and other gender-marginalized communities,” said Marla Love, Robert W. & Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students.

“Shifting our language to ‘gender equity’ is responsive to the experiences of historically marginalized communities and actively welcomes the involvement of all people committed to gender equity, not only women. The center invests in supporting our students' intersecting identities, which shape their experiences both at Cornell and beyond.” Love’s office oversees the Centers for Equity, Empowerment and Belonging in Student and Campus Life – the organization that houses the Gender Equity Resource Center – which has also undergone a recent name change.

Not only is the center a physical gathering place for students to relax, study and find connection with like-minded peers, it also provides access to free items including sustainable and single-use period products, pregnancy tests, safer sex supplies and emergency contraception. In addition, the center offers Cornell students leadership development opportunities, dynamic programs and educational events hosted by center staff and affiliated student organizations.

Students who may have experienced bias or gender-based violence can connect with staff at the Gender Equity Resource Center during open hours to explore next steps and available resources. The center is also home to two campus confidential resources – staff members who are not obligated to report to the Office of Title IX – allowing anonymity to those who seek it.

“The Gender Equity Resource Center strives for education, empowerment and strength for women and gender expansive students,” said Shura Gat, associate dean of students and director of the renamed resource center.

According to Gat, one of the foremost priorities of the Gender Equity Resource Center is to create opportunities for women and gender-expansive students to experience a sense of belonging while engaging with gender-related issues. Staff have recently made updates to the lounge in Willard Straight Hall which has a variety of free resources, comfortable places to sit, snacks and tea.

“At the Gender Equity Resource Center, we start from a place of intersectional feminism: the understanding of how women’s overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disability status — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination,” she said.

“This allows us to develop programs and resources that better meet students’ needs and to celebrate the resistance movements that continue to reshape systems and reclaim narratives.”

Since its inception in the 1970s, the center has had multiple iterations, though it remains focused on building community at Cornell and beyond.

The Gender Equity Resource Center will celebrate 50 years of helping to support and promote gender equity, empowerment and inclusion at Cornell throughout the 2023-24 academic year. Details around celebration events will be announced soon.

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Laura Gallup is a communications lead in Student & Campus Life.

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