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Penn State’s Gender Equity Center Marks Women’s History Month with a Variety of Public Events

by on March 05, 2020 4:45 AM

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Penn State Gender Equity Center is hosting a variety of events open to the public throughout March.

Located at 204 Boucke Building at Penn State, the Gender Equity Center provides support for students affected by sexual violence, relationship violence, stalking, and harassment; it provides referrals, crisis intervention, support counseling, education, and advocacy.

The center offers programs and lectures every March to honor Women’s History Month, in addition to its various other events that run from September through April.

In choosing events and speakers, Program Coordinator Jennifer Pencek asks students she knows from peer education groups or students visiting the center for their opinions on what they would like to see.

“I try really hard to find speakers and programs that are really interactive, not someone who’s just going to be up on a stage lecturing,” Pencek says. “I always work hard to bring people who are at least going to be answering questions, who maybe want to be involved in other types of ways, but definitely talking about topics that will resonate with the work that we do and also resonate with students.”

The Gender Equity Center is big on collaborating with other on-campus or downtown resources, Pencek says. It helps make people aware of the local resources that they might not have known about because of Penn State’s size.

“With the campus being so large, a lot of times people aren’t going to know what resources there are until they actually need it,” Pencek says.

Women’s History Month events began on Monday with researchers and authors Jennifer Hirsch and Shamus Khan talking about their book Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus on Monday. The book pulls from an ethnographic component of the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT), the groundbreaking mixed-methods research project on sexual health and sexual violence among Columbia and Barnard undergraduate students. 

Theologian and essayist Candice Benbow will speak about her experiences as a woman of color, feminism, fashion, and more on Wednesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. in Freeman Auditorium. Benbow is best known for Red Lip Theology, the movement she started to encourage young black women to embrace their entire selves. Through this movement, Benbow combines theological ideals with the beauty industry to celebrate black women’s creativity and spirituality. The lecture is in collaboration with 3rd Way Collective and Lutheran Student Community.

A Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Training with the Jana Marie Foundation will be at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 30, at 233A HUB-Robeson Center, which will teach people how to recognize the warning signs of suicide. Training consists of learning to question, persuade, and refer someone who may be suicidal, how to get help for yourself or learn more about preventing suicide, common causes of suicidal behavior, and the warning signs of suicide. The QPR training is free, but it requires pre-registration at janamariefoundation.org/learn-with-us/take-a-course/qpr-registration.

The Gender Equity Center will close out Women’s History Month with a women’s voting panel at the HUB-Robeson Center’s Flex Theater on Tuesday, March 31, at 6:30 p.m.

While the Gender Equity Center could make the events open only to students, Pencek believes it is important to have them open to the public as well.

“Everyone should have access to the same information,” says Pencek. “We won’t hold an event that’s just for students or just for a certain population. We very intentionally keep our events free, and they’re always open to everyone. As an office, we work a lot with students, but we’ll never have an event and turn people away because they’re not a Penn State student.”

Pencek encourages everyone who attends the programs or lectures to “be open to hearing different things.”

“Sometimes people will [think], ‘That doesn’t impact me,’” Pencek says. “Whether we’re talking about sexual assault, equality, [or] gender stereotypes, any of these things, we are impacted on a daily basis by these issues, so why not confront it head on? Or, in the case of Women’s History Month, why not just celebrate it?” 

For more information about upcoming Gender Equity Center events, visit studentaffairs.psu.edu/genderequity

 

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