The Center for [Women and] Gender Equity was conceived in 2000 when Pamela Mohandass, a scholar visiting from Lady Doak College in India, came to Pacific to study the Feminist Studies Program (FS). Together we decided to establish “sister women’s centers” on the Lady Doak and Pacific campuses and organize an exchange program between the two. Pursuant to that goal, we created a planning committee, drew up a proposal, and laid it before President Gabelnick, Vice-President Claussen, and Dean Krebs for approval. That approval was granted in August of 2001.
The next step proceeded during the following academic year, (2001-2002). Lady Doak College hired a full-time director for its center. At Pacific, we expanded the planning committee to include representatives from a variety of units of the University and from the local community, and we sought space for the Center in concert with the Space Committee. A room was located at the back of Drake House, which was being used for storage. We acquired that space and occupied it in May of 2002.
In September of 2002 CGE celebrated an official public opening, in cooperation with the Forest Grove/Hillsboro Branch of the American Association of University Women, which subsidized the event. During the first year of operation the Center was run by two work-study students, two interns and directed by Martha Rampton, a professor in the History Department. We initiated the following programs: Buddhist Meditation, Women’s Self-Defense, Brown Bag Lunch Speaker Series, drop-in referral service, a lending library, a Forest Grove Women’s leadership group, a Portland based women’s leadership education program, and the Center itself was used by various groups for meeting space. We also instituted an organizational structure consisting of a staff, Operating Committee, and Advisory Committee.
Over the intervening five years, CGE has steadily grown by adding services and staff. We have continued to build on the framework established in the first year. We have extended our services to include a bridge program with the Adelante Mujeres, planning for a Sexual Assault Response Team, a “Get Out Her Vote” program, a collaboration with Rainbow Coalition and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), psychological counseling and support groups for non-traditional students, and a “Books for India” program. In June of 2004 CGE entered discussions with Lotus (a Portland based organization promoting alternatives to prostitution) and the Housing Development Cooperation of NW Oregon (addressing needs of Hispanics) to initiate collaborative projects. We have also started a program entitled Nuevo Amancer that provides English instruction and computer skills to custodial workers of Pacific. In January of 2005 a group of Pacific undergraduates visited Lady Doak College in India for a service-learning class focused on social/family/gender issues in India. A second group of students visited Lady Doak in January of 2007, and a group of community women participated in a service-learning program at Lady Doak in February of 2007. One of our most successful programs is called Girls Today, whereby we have for the last two years brought fifty junior high school girls to campus for a one-day seminar on coping with issues girls face growing up. CGE programming has continued to expand and has maintained its high quality. We produced Vagina Monologues in 2005, and 2007; we will produce The Laramie Project in October of 2007; we hosted the internationally known musical group, Voices of Africa, in January of 2006, and The Guerilla Girls came to campus in April 2007 for a performance and a student workshop. For the last two years CGE has brought the AIDS Quilt to campus along with extensive programming on AIDS in the US and Africa. As Pacific campuses proliferate, we are committee to expanding our services to them. We have sponsored two brown bags at the CHP campus, and have more programming in mind for the future. For a full description of CGE programming see the attached “Projects Update”
In terms of CGE’s governance, as of June 2007, the Operating Committee has become a formal advisory board, which oversees the initiatives and budgeting of the Center. CGE is staffed by work-study students and interns from all of the colleges on campus, a team of SPP practicum students, and an assistant director who is a part-time employee of the university.