Campus Secret: The Center for Women’s Studies

The Center for Women’s Studies is located on North Wood Avenue across the street from the Baptist Student Center. It offers a variety of events and resources for students and the community.

The Center for Women’s Studies is often referred to as UNA’s best-kept secret on campus, as there are many students on campus that have never visited before.

Emily Kelley, coordinator of the center, said the main focus of the establishment is educating and informing students on women’s issues, including violence and non-equal pay between men and women.

“Women’s rights have been ignored for centuries,” Kelley said. “We need a women’s center because women need a place where they can go and be themselves, feel comfortable and get support.”

Despite this, the center is not restricted to women visitors only. Instead, it serves as a gender-inclusive facility that students may go to for a judgment-free zone or to get involved in the many events hosted during the year.

Some of the events hosted include “These Hands Don’t Hurt,” which takes place during the spring and encourages students and faculty to take a pledge against violence by making handprints on a banner, and the breast cancer awareness tree, which goes on display in October. Students and faculty can write the name of someone they know who has or had breast cancer on a paper pink ribbon and hang it on the tree. 

The center also offers the senior seminar class for Women’s Studies minors in the spring semester.

Lynne Rieff, director of the center, said the center also tries to be a link between UNA and the local community through inviting speakers to campus and partnering with organizations, such as Safe Place and Shoals Crisis, and is always open to new ideas.

“If anybody has an idea that they would like to share or a potential speaker, program or exhibit they would like to see on campus that’s related to women or gender issues, we would love to hear them,” Rieff said.

Rieff and now-retired English professor Anna Lott started the center in 2004 inside a single room in Bennett Infirmary. They moved fall of the same year to their present location on North Wood Avenue, which was originally occupied by International Affairs.

Senior Anna Luttrell, a former student worker at the center, said she describes the Women’s Center as a safe haven for her, the campus and the community.

“It is a home away from home,” Luttrell said. “Most days when the intern and some of the volunteers are here, you can hear giggling and talking. It’s just such a sweet time.”

Luttrell said she encourages students to use the tools available inside the building. These include free printing, coffee and water, a small library and the Pride’s Pantry, which offers free toiletries.

The center is open to anyone who wants to volunteer in helping out with the center’s events. Choosing to help out serves as a way to get involved on campus and support the community.

The center is in front of Wesleyan Hall and across the street from the Baptist Student Center. For more information, you may contact the center at 256-765-4380 or Lynn Rieff at [email protected]