SCSU Strategic Planning & Reporting
November 1998
Student Life & Development

DEPARTMENT: Women's Center
DIRECTOR: Jane Olsen
PHONE NUMBER: 255-4958 or 654-5216

MISSION:

To promote women and respond to issues affecting the status of women on campus and in the larger society.

CORE VALUES

We are committed to:

  • Providing the highest quality services possible to our constituents.
  • Respecting differences and working toward greater diversity and inclusiveness.
  • Defining our work from various feminist perspectives focusing on women's culture, women's oppression and women's resistence.
  • Demonstrating civility in all discourse.
  • Responsible use of fiscal and human resources to serve students in fulfilling the goals of Student
  • Life and Development and the University mission.

VISION

  • Creating a safe and non-sexist environment at SCSU.
  • Supporting a strong and diverse feminist community at SCSU and in the surrounding community.
  • Engaging in activism to challenge institutional and individual sexism.
  • Providing and facilitating new leadership in an effort to transform a culture to one where women's perspectives, achievements and scholarship are valued.
  • Offering feminist models for teaching about attitudes and values that are respectful of diversity by race, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability, class and other differences that traditionally divide people.

STRENGTHS

  • We are willing to "push the envelope" or challenge the status quo to confront sexism, an injustice or a social problem.
  • We implement a proactive Sexual Violence Prevention Program recognized as a leading model on both the state and national level.
  • We boast a mailing list of 1,000 allies; about an equal number on and off campus.
  • We use a collaborative/feminist model of operating, resulting in a number of benefits including a high level of co-sponsorship with other departments and groups, the development of leadership skills for all staff, and the inclusion of many different perspectives and ideas in our programming, publications and positions.
  • Colbert North is now "hard wired," allowing staff direct e-mail/Internet access. Our efficiency has greatly increased with this improvement.
  • After almost nine years of operation, a full-time, permanent office manager now staffs our Center. This increase in hours has improved consistency, efficiency, and work production.
  • The Center benefits from numerous in-house and other high-energy feminist student activists willing to address controversial issues.
  • Three student organizations are housed at the Women's Center, thus improving relationship and coalition building, event co-sponsorship and effective communication.
  • We provide a quality repertoire of programming including Women on Wednesday, National Women's History Month, Take Back the Night, Sexual Assault Awareness Week and more.
  • A dedicated, knowledgeable and compassionate staff willing to provide the best services possible.
  • We have diversified funding sources (M & E, student activity monies, grant funding and a foundation account) to support numerous activities and services.

WEAKNESSES

  • Permanent staff are in the process of receiving training in the use of new software and information technology due to recent "hard wiring" of our building and new computer acquisition; thus, productivity has decreased over the short term. (All 286's and 386's have been banned from the Women's Center!)
  • A Women's Center weakness may be the difficulty we have discontinuing services or programs that are less of a priority as we acquire new responsibilities. The constant brainstorming and development of new ideas for services, programs and initiatives occasionally leaves us with an overfull agenda, leading to a less than satisfactory outcome.
  • Lack of a graduate assistant providing support for the Sexual Violence Prevention Program has resulted in an understaffed, overworked Women's Center program.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • New funding options provide us with opportunities to develop new initiatives. Although grant seeking competition has increased in the non-profit sector, new monies are sometimes available for innovative projects.
  • The challenges, and now the opportunities available due to the progress made in addressing racism on campus, have potential for increased alliance and coalition building. This opportunity could open new doors for many of us on campus as we respond to the changing norms and environment.

THREATS

  • The backlash against feminism and the controversial issues surrounding our work is very real and poses interesting challenges and sometimes wasted energy. The cry of sexism evokes everything from the all-to-common "roll of the eyes" to a silencing through intimidation. Women's Center staff are struck by the normalcy with which sexism and violence against women is treated on an everyday basis on campus and in the larger society.
  • Increasing politically conservative pressure hinders the issues we address and the strategies we utilize to promote social change.
  • Violence continues to permeate our society in all corners and women's experiences with violence are serious, traumatic and sometimes life threatening. Dating violence is on the rise, domestic abuse in cohabitating relationships has increased, sexual assault is more prevalent than most want to believe and crimes against the GLBT community continue to rise. Whether women have been raped or not, the vast majority of women feel confined and limited in innumerable ways by the fear of sexual and physical violence. And, let us not forget that four girls out of ten have been sexually violated in some way before the age of 18, even before they come to college.
  • Increased centralization (MnSCU) threatens the ability of a university department like ours to recommend and monitor policy changes in the best interests of women. The many layers of bureaucracy create sometimes impossible barriers for social and university change.

University Themes

Academic Distinction goes to the heart of the University's aspirations and springs from its heritage of excellence.

Student Life and Development will, through its programs, services and cooperative ventures with faculty, complement the academic mission of the university. In addition, SLD will provide students with distinctive opportunities to develop cultural sensitivity, leadership, social and career-oriented skills necessary for future success.

Continuing/Current Programs:

  • Women on Wednesday (WOW) is a noon-hour lecture series with a nine year history at SCSU. This educational program is well known for its high-quality, cutting edge presentations and it continues to draw students, employees and, occasionally, community members on a weekly basis. The issues addressed through WOW challenge prevailing attitudes, portray the rich and diverse perspectives of women on a multitude of topics, build skills and knowledge in many areas, such as leadership and cultural competence, and this program supplements the curriculum of a variety of courses in numerous academic departments.
  • National Women's History Month has been celebrated for nine years at SCSU through events and programming coordinated by the Women's Center. This educational program seeks to redress the invisibility of women's contributions and accomplishments throughout our nation's history, and offers this learning community new knowledge and perspectives about women's diverse lives and the female experience in this society. Various speakers, events, a film series, and theater productions make up the annual Women's History Month Program. The caliber of speakers and the topics addressed support the new scholarship on women.
  • In addition to educational programs noted above, various Women's Center services support the strategic theme of "academic distinction," including scholarships, support for student activism and the Women's Center's resource library. Our Center has administered and implemented two scholarships for non-traditional female students for the past six years. Beginning in 1999, two additional scholarships will be added to the Women's Center scholarship program, allowing us to award over $10,000 annually to support the educational goals of non-traditional female students.
  • Supporting student learning through activist projects continues to be an important component for fulfilling the mission of the Women's Center and the strategic theme of academic distinction. Providing consultation and resources (both materials and staffing) to students developing and implementing social change projects assists students in translating classroom knowledge and theory into practice through practical application.
  • The Women's Center library contains thousands of topic files, hundreds of books, and many videos, brochures and pamphlets by and about women. Approximately 300 hundred students utilize the resource library each year to obtain supplementary materials, often not found in an academic library. Further, we provide technical assistance by helping them locate hard to index materials like brochures and community action publications.
  • All programs and services listed above are evaluated through a combination of program evaluations, numbers of people served, and word of mouth feedback.

New Initiatives

  • The Women's Center is in the processing of completing all the necessary administrative arrangements to implement two new scholarships targetting female non-traditional students on campus.

Future Initiatives

  • No future initiatives are planned at this time. The Women's Center has developed four major goals for academic year 1998/99. An end of the year assessment will assist in further long range planning under the strategic theme of Academic Distinction.

A Service Community will lead to a more respectful and secure campus environment for everyone.

Student Life and Development will put students first in everything that we do. Guided by periodic assessment, we will provide the highest quality student services possible, cognizant of the diverse needs of our students. Further, SLD will model and advance the values of civility and service to others in an effort to develop a safer and more effective living-learning community.

Current/ Continuing Objectives:

  • Administration and implementation of the Sexual Violence Prevention Program. This model, nationally-recognized program combines victim services, policy analysis and recommendations, and education to promote a safe, secure campus environment free from sexual violence.
    • Objectives include: developing and refining curriculum for campus educational programs; outreach and networking with special populations of students to ensure that programs are carried out; continued training of professional and student staff about protocols, and advocacy and support strategies to assist victims' healing process; review of current policies, procedures and protocols designed to help victims of sexual violence; and maintenance of a internal service delivery system that works for students and employees that need help.
    • Outcome measures include analysis of contact documentation forms, program evaluation forms, client satisfaction forms, request for programs, and media coverage about sexual violence issues.
  • Information and Referral: Serving as a resource clearinghouse focusing on campus and community services for women continues to be an important objective of the Women's Center.
  • Advocacy and Support: Providing advocacy and support to victims of harassment, abuse, sexual violence and sex discrimination is a daily part of our work. We continue to maintain and develop relationships with many human service providers, criminal justice staff and mental health professionals in order to meet the needs of students and employees on campus.
  • The Women's Center is administering a project entitled, "Breaking Barriers: Creating Support Networks." This NAFSA funded project is supporting the development of a peer advising program for female international students. A working group of faculty, staff and students have been meeting for two years to develop a model that will work for our campus. The working group's sister program is the International Female Support Group, a student organization designed to create a support/social network for women from non-U.S. cultures.

New Initiatives

  • Administration and implementation of the Respect and Responsibility: Sex Race and Power program. Respect and Responsibility, a component of the Sexual Violence Prevention Program, is an educational program for all incoming undergraduate students enrolled in more than five semester credits. The educational workshop includes information on sexual violence prevention, racism prevention and diversity. It is a part of the University's "Program to combat racism and racial harassment and to enhance cultural diversity."
    • Objectives include: maintenance of an efficient computer compliance tracking system; development of creative curriculum that facilitates the teaching of sensitive material to large groups of students, development of materials for distribution at Respect and Responsibility workshops; maintenance of an internal tracking and deferment system to ensure 100% compliance; ongoing trouble-shooting and special needs assistance for students having difficulty attending one of the scheduled workshops; and organization with SLD and others to ensure collaboration.
    • Outcome measures include one-hundred percent compliance of Respect and Responsibility; analysis of program evaluations and documentation of numbers attending.
  • Assess, explore and develop solutions to the problem of eating disorders and poor body image of women. The Women's Center has embarked on a year-long planning process to improve and formalize what services SCSU provides on this complex and challenging issue. We have initiated a collaboration between the Counseling Center, ADAPT, the Human Relations Department and the Women's Center.
  • In light of the huge problem of eating disorders among college-aged women, the Women's Center plans to develop and organize a "Love Your Body" campaign.
  • Campus Safety will always be a major concern of women and, thus, the Women's Center continues to prioritize this issue. We are in the process of assessing, exploring and developing solutions to the practical problems of utilizing the University's escort service and other available safety programs. As is typical of how the Women's Center operates, we envision a collaboration of many players including, of course, University Public Safety, but also, student groups and other departments.

Future Initiatives

  • A Law Clinic for Women. Because we live in a legalistic society and because many women do not have access to attorneys, the Women's Center has envisioned the offering of a "law clinic" scheduled twice a month and modeled after a similar program at the University of Virginia's Women's Center.
  • The development of a video/powerpoint presentation to be used as a training tool for the Sexual Violence Prevention Program. This has been a goal for years, but because we have not been able to raise the additional dollars needed, we have deferred this goal until a later date
  • A revised Women's Mentorship Project. The Women's Center administered a Women's Mentorship Program from 1994-97. There were many challenges and failures and, thus, the program was discontinued. We believe in the benefits of women mentoring women and hope to create a new model that will work for SCSU.

Diversity and Justice will allow the University to better serve our rapidly-changing world and foster a community of people of many backgrounds and perspectives working successfully together.

Student Life and Development through staff contacts, programs and services will foster an understanding of human differences and promote a just community in which every student is free to learn and grow.

Departments within Student Life and Development will provide a supportive, civil and welcoming environment for all members of the university community.

SLD will improve staff understanding of human differences and needs as they pertain to the delivery of services.

Continuing/Current Programs

  • The Women's Center continues to administer the Women's Cultural Diversity Project. Initiated in 1994 as a solution to mistrust and the need for relationship building and dialogue between women of color and white women, this committee of faculty, staff and students has continued to organize programs and dialogue sessions to improve the possibility of alliance building. Most recent sessions have addressed the issues of cultural beauty standards, talking about race, and an "Eat 'n Talk" event designed to co-mingle socializing with networking.
  • Another project related to the diversity and justice theme and administered by the Women's Center is entitled, "Breaking Barriers/Building Support Networks." The working committee, composed of staff, students and faculty, wrote and received a $1,000 grant from NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The project goal is the development of a peer advising program for female international students. The sister student organization, IFSG (International Female Support Group) is involved with our work.
  • Staff training on diversity issues continues on an ongoing basis. Staff are encouraged to attend events organized by other groups such as the American Indian Center, the Pink Triangle Resource Center (LGBT issues), Council of African American Students and the Breaking Barriers student organization committed to disability awareness and activism. The Center also organizes in-house training covering issues of racism, hate crimes, homophobia and others.
  • Take Back the Night is an annual march and rally designed to protest violence against women and children in all of its many forms. Since 1990, the Women's Center has been part of a strong campus/community coalition committed to organizing a successful event in this community. The last several years has brought out more than 400 people to call out for a violence-free society.
  • The Women's Center has been an integral part of the University's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Organized independently in 1992 by faculty, staff and students, the Commission is now a presidentially-appointed group charged with assessing the status of women at SCSU. Over the last six years, hundreds of hours have been devoted by Women's Center staff to Commission development, data gathering, policy and program recommendations, and project administration. The CSW graduate assistant currently has an office at the Women's Center, and the director is serving as the graduate assistant's functional supervisor.
  • In addition, the Women's Center houses and supervises the graduate assistants of the Pink Triangle Resource Center, an office dedicated to student services for GLBT people, campus awareness and education, and the elimination of homophobia in society. The Pink Triangle implements the "Safe Space" program, and is a central part of a strong coalition fighting against hate crimes on campus and in the larger society.
  • The Women's Center's Sexual Violence Prevention Program is a model, nationally-recognized program that combines victim services, policy analysis and recommendations, and education to promote a safe, secure campus environment free from sexual violence.
  • Objectives of this program related to diversity and justice include: developing and refining curriculum for campus educational programs; outreach and networking with special populations of students to ensure that programs are carried out; continued training of professional and student staff about protocols, and advocacy and support strategies to assist victims' healing processes; review of current policies, procedures and protocols designed to help victims of sexual violence; and maintenance of an effective internal service delivery system for students and employees that need help.
  • Outcome measures include analysis of contact documentation forms, program evaluation forms, client satisfaction forms, requests for programs, and media coverage about sexual violence issues. Additional outcome measure is one-hundred percent compliance of Respect and Responsibility; analysis of program evaluations and documentation of numbers attending.

New Initiatives

  • Collaborative development and program implementation of the "Respect and Responsibility Program" is a new initiative of the Women's Center. "Respect and Responsibility," a component of the Sexual Violence Prevention Program, is an educational program for all incoming undergraduate students enrolled in more than five semester credits. The educational workshop includes information on sexual violence prevention, racism and diversity. It is a part of the University's "program to combat racism and racial harassment and to enhance cultural diversity."
    • Objectives include: maintenance of an efficient computer compliance tracking system; development of creative curriculum that facilitates the teaching of sensitive material to large groups of students; development of materials for distribution at Respect and Responsibility workshops; maintenance of an internal tracking and deferment system to ensure 100% compliance; ongoing trouble-shooting and special needs assistance of students; and organization with SLD and others to ensure collaboration.
  • The Sexual Violence Prevention Program at the Women's Center received a collaborative grant with the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center to improve and increase access to sexual assault services for women of color specifically in the African/African-American and Asian/Asian-American communities. Two women of color advocates have been hired to provide services, increase awareness about issues affecting women of color, and serve as liaisons between ethnic communities.
  • In support of the theme, diversity and justice, the Women's Center has developed a major initiative to improve safety on campus and increase activism/advocacy related to violence against women. Objectives include:
    • Advocating for improved security in K and Q Lot.
    • Awareness campaign outlining safety services on campus.
    • Participating in a campus assessment of call boxes, lighting, etc.
    • Collaborating with security to improve training on escort services.
    • Implementing an educational program on dating violence.
    • Solidifying policy and protocol on crime and safety alerts.
    • Supporting a new emergence of men's groups committed to the problem of violence against women.
    • Initiating and coordinating two major actions to protest violence against women.
  • The Women's Center has developed new objectives to meet the ongoing goals of inclusiveness-diversity-justice within and outside of the Center. We plan to assign a liaison to as many student of color and diversity groups as possible in order to support coalition building and cross-cultural communication and activism. Educational programs, services and "position statements" will also be analyzed for diversity-friendly content and process on an on-going basis.

Future Initiatives:

  • No new initiatives have been envisioned at this time. As a pragmatic and activism-based center, we are committed to maintaining the substantial number of programs and activities we have at this time and following them through over the years. We will conduct ongoing analysis to assess the continued importance and relevancy of the programs listed above.

Information Technology is an important tool to realize many strategies.

Student Life and Development will develop and utilize information technology ethically and appropriately to improve services and program access to students and other constituents, with the goals of enhancing academic success and learning in the context of global society.

History and Overview:

  • Providing some history is important in order to put this section of our strategic plan in context. We have found ourselves years behind other academic and student life departments in the area of information technology. When we opened our doors nine years ago, one basic PC graced the office of the secretary for basic document production. No equipment money was available to the Women's Center in our first six years to purchase computer equipment. Further, as we were located in Colbert House North, lack of a fiberoptic cable left us disconnected to the rest of the campus and to cyberspace. The dial-in modem method was inefficient at best, and effectively blocked us from accessing information from the web and benefiting from email. Also, we lacked the equipment required of creating adequate data information management systems, as well as desk-top publishing capabilities. The director and assistant director/coordinator of sexual assault services eventually were able to locate very outdated equipment (believe it or not, 286s) discarded from other departments on campus, but a 286 was superior to a typewriter. With such an overview/history in mind, this section proceeds using the format of current, new, and future initiatives.

Current Initiatives:

  • Creative budgeting from our M & E and Student Activity Account has enabled the Women's Center to purchase four Gateway 2000 PC's in the last two years, as well as a new laser printer. This computer and printer acquisition has allowed the Women's Center to improve document production, data management, and access to the outside world. Further, after years of requests, the Women's Center (Colbert House North) was "hardwired" in August 1998, and we now have efficient access to email and the internet. This has increased our efficiency, productivity and communication with the larger campus and beyond. We have made a commitment to additional training in various software applications, and have utilized the staff training opportunities available to us.
  • The Women's Center has had a Web Page for a number of years, although it was often outdated because of our lack of access to the technology and the lack of training and time to keep it updated. The information on our Web Page is currently updated, and is linked to the University Web Page.

New Initiatives:

  • The Women's Center houses a specialized resource library of books, video's, topic files and brochures geared especially to students. These resources address hundreds of issues applicable to the lives of women including, domestic violence, ethnic and global perspectives, lesbian and gay issues, labor market, mothering and much more. We are in the process of creating a computer data information system using Microsoft Access to enable users to find all materials that we have on any given issue or topic. This technology will increase the efficiency of library users and the Women's Center.
  • Another goal is the reformatting, refining and expanding of our Website. We plan to add information about upcoming events, links to other groups and information, such as resources, available from our library.

Future Initiatives:

  • The only goal we have in the area of information technology is the acquisition of adequate computers for every desk at the Women's Center. We currently have heavy competition for the four adequate PCs now available.

University-External Realtionships will be the key to many of our aspirations.

Community perception of the value that the University provides determines the level of our support. As a public university, SCSU has the responsibility to be a leading force in intellectual, cultural, and economic development and contribute to the fabric of central Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

Student Life and Development, through its programs and staff leadership, will contribute to the intellectual, cultural and economic development of the citizens of Central Minnesota.

Student Life and Development will promote and model positive involvement in the community by St. Cloud State University students and staff.

Current Initiatives:

  • A number of current initiatives relate to our work and connections with the community. The Women's Center implements a scholarship program for non-traditional female students. We currently administer the Mary Jane Young Scholarship for the Education of Women and the Grace McDowall Memorial Scholarship. These scholarships combined total $10,000 annually. In the next two years, we will be adding two new scholarships to our program, the Claude and Helen DelZoppo scholarship and the Elaine L. Leach Scholarship for Educational Leadership. Our ongoing communication with donors and donor representatives allows for communication between the donors, the recipients and the Women's Center.
  • Take Back the Night is an annual march and rally designed to protest violence against women and children in all of its many forms. Since 1990, the Women's Center has been part of a strong campus/community coalition committed to organizing a successful event in this community. The last several years have brought out more than 400 people to call for a violence-free society. This coalition of groups and organizations planning Take Back the Night supports inter-agency networking and relationship building.
  • Another event organized and implemented by the Women's Center is "Take Our Daughters to Work Day." A designated day in April supports millions of girls who participate for a day in the workplace of a parent, other family member or significant other adult. This program brings more than one hundred girls to SCSU for a day of observation and learning. This event is widely publicized and eagerly awaited by many girls and their parents each year. Recently, the Women's Center identified college women to host girls from the Area Learning Center to better connect and serve the local community.
  • We measure the success of the above programs through evaluations completed by participants, anecdotal feedback, and analysis and discussion among staff at our weekly meeting.
  • All of the educational programs organized and offered by the Women's Center are open to the public. The Center believes in the importance of a solid connection with the community, and opening and offering our programs to community members is one way that we can demonstrate this commitment. The Women's Center's off-campus mailing list numbers 500 individuals, organizations and groups, and through more than a dozen bulk mailings every year, we publicize our programs, services and current issues of the day.
  • Women's Center staff are also involved in numerous community endeavors with the goal of increasing positive external relations with the community. The director was a co-founder of WATCH, a court monitoring group committed to observing and evaluating the Stearns County court system in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. In addition, she is a member of the St. Cloud Human Services Council and the Multicultural Women's Task Force. The task force organized and hosted a multicultural women's conference in September 1997 bringing together diverse women for cultural learning, information sharing and networking.
  • The assistant director/coordinator of sexual assault services is a member of the Community Sexual Assault Care Plan, a task force committed to improving medical and advocacy services to victims of sexual assault. She also serves on the County Attorney's Office task force on battered women and sexual assault victims. Further, the office manager is an officer and active member of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Staff have participated in many other community groups and committees over the years, in support of Women's Center goal achievement and positive community relations. We will continue to do so in the future.

No new initiatives or future initiatives are planned at this time in the area of external relations. We will continue with our current activities and participate in new initiatives depending on resources and goals.

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