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Women's history month meets mixed reactions
by Maya Balakrishnan
The Women's Resource Center kicked off Women's History Month in March with a number of events celebrating women's issues and roles.

Their first accomplishment was designating the Women's HIV Coalition, a Houston-based group, as the charity for the proceeds of the CoffeeHouse's Rice Cakes.

One of the many events sponsored throughout March were weekly brown bag lunches that focused on topics including Women and Gender Studies at Rice, Campus Safety Issues, Women in Science and Sexual Assault Awareness week; there was also a women's music night at the CoffeeHouse.

According to Melissa Jacobs, a Lovett College junior and student coordinator, the excitement of Beer-Bike, the week-long midterm recess and spring recess seemed to draw student attention away from the events planned for March.

"The activities that we had during women's history month are what we have throughout the year. We just concentrate them into the week and a half that we are in school during March," Jacobs said.

The brown bag lunches drew on average of "only 10 to 15 people ... but they were really informative," Jacobs said.

"We had a sexual harassment discussion one night, and only five students showed up," Liana Gefter, a sophomore at Hanszen College and student coordinator, said. "We put a lot of effort into planning things ... it's really disheartening when no one shows up."

Taylor felt that students need to be more aware that Women's History Month even exists in order for there to be appreciation for the events planned.

Some events saw a healthy number of student participants. Women's music night at the CoffeeHouse was very successful. "We wound up getting a good number of participants ... it was a good way to showcase the talents of Rice women," Jacobs said.

Also enjoying relative success was the viewing of Friends with a discussion led by sociology professor Chad Gordon, according to Stephanie Taylor, a Brown College sophomore and student coordinator.

This year's response to Women's History Month has encouraged the organization to make a few changes in planning next year's programming. "We just talked about this tentatively, but for next year instead of planning events during just this one month we will spread them out throughout the year," Gefter said.

Also, they plan to use more "passive events" such as the clothesline project, which featured T-shirts designed by women who were the survivors of violence.

In addition, they plan to host Brown Bag Lunches on a set day, every second Wednesday of the month, instead of scheduling them on a floating dates.

The Women's Resource Center is planning to start a counseling program due to the responses from a survey put out by the Center. These student counselors will have set hours when they will be in the center and available to counsel their peers on a number of issues.

The Center, in its second year at Rice, is still developing new ideas and working on already existing ones.

"We're still testing things out," Gefter said. "We are still a very young organization."

This item appeared in the News section of the April 4, 1997 issue.

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