UIndy debuts Gender Center

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The University of Indianapolis now has a gender center that will encourage conversation and action involving sex, sexual orientation and gender issues. UIndy officially launched the Gender Center on Feb. 20. The Gender Center is located in Schwitzer Student Center, Room 208C.

Laura Merrifield Wilson, assistant professor of political science and pre-law advisor, is one of the main coordinators of the Gender Center and is a member of the 2019-2020 Gender Center Committee. She said that the Gender Center is a place for unifying the community in relations to gender and gender issues. 

“We are going to have community programming, we are going to bring community partners on campus and also get students off campus working on these issues,” Wilson said. “We will work on advocacy, supporting certain policies and adapting to change. We also want to encourage gender research.” 

About a year ago, the Gender Center started off as a conversation between faculty, Wilson said. Some faculty members noticed UIndy did not have a centralized place for discussions about gender like other campuses. 

Contributed Photo by University Photographer D. Todd Moore University President Robert Manuel speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Gender Center on Feb. 20. The Gender Center is located in Schwitzer Student Center, Room 208C.

The Gender Center is a place that will host many events involving gender, sex and sexual orientation, Wilson said. Anyone who is a part of the UIndy community can utilize the Gender Center as a unifier to discuss and get involved with gender issues. The center can help support current initiatives and inspire future ones, according to Wilson.

“Certainly, letting people know there is a place to have these kinds of conversations, and not just conversations, but to incite action,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of great groups doing things in terms of women’s issues, but a lot of the time they are not in conversations with each other, because sometimes they do not know what else is going on.”

Director of Service-Learning and Community Engagement Marianna Foulkrod is also a member of the 2019-2020 Gender Center Committee. Foulkrod said there are many values within the center, such as the opportunities for outside engagement and on-campus events.  

“We want to be an inclusive institution. We want all of our students to feel like they have a strong sense of belonging,” Foulkrod said. “We also want to make sure we are promoting and enhancing educational opportunities and experiences for our students. We want to make sure they have opportunities to inform others and share information about their experience and perception.”

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