Temporary gender equity center open today on campus

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A temporary “Gender Equity Center” is open to the public all day today at Grand Rapids Community College. The student organization Women’s Issues Now is pushing to establish a center on campus to give people a place to learn about sexual health, resources on campus and in the community and have access to free condoms, feminine hygiene products and diapers.

The temporary space has free educational material and condoms, supplied by the Kent County Health Department, feminine hygiene products, diapers and bandages.

“These are things we shouldn’t have to pay for,” said WIN President Tessa Dearth.

The group was originally going to call the space a “women’s center,” but Dearth said the center is meant to be a place for all people, and not just women.

“We don’t want to make it exclusive to just women,” Dearth said. “There shouldn’t be just one definition of ‘woman.’ There’s a gender movement right now, whether people want to either be queer, transgender, called by ‘they,’ or ‘he’ or ‘she.’ It shouldn’t be just exclusive.”

The space is staffed by club members throughout the day today.

“We’re going to monitor the usage, what students seem to utilize and want the most,” said WIN adviser Gretchen Robinson.

Robinson said the idea has been with the organization for 10 years, and over that time she has made several attempts to make this happen, but this is the first time the group has made the next step to having a location.

“They’re very tenacious,” Robinson said about the members of the club. “They have so much energy and enthusiasm.”

Dearth said she hopes the group can eventually have a permanent, larger space to account for more things, like a private breastfeeding room.

“We just want to expand,” Dearth said. “We would eventually like to have a whole center, or a dedicated building.”

GRCC community members are welcome to stop in to room 412 Main Building, on the fourth floor by the entrance to the crosswalk. The room will be open until 8 p.m. today.

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