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Tell Duke administration not to move the Women's Center

This petition had 1,026 supporters

There has been a proposed change to move the Women’s Center from its current location in the Few Quadrangle on West Campus to the current Wellness Center space on East Campus. This is located under the Duke Coffeehouse, in the back of the Crowell Academic Building. We, students affiliated with the Women’s Center, find this proposed move deeply problematic for numerous reasons.

1.  Student Conduct hearings also occur in the Crowell Academic Building

Many students are concerned that moving the Women's Center, a place where many survivors of sexual assault seek counseling, to the same building where numerous survivors have gone through the Student Conduct process could present a triggering situation. There is a risk that survivors of sexual violence coming to or going from the Women's Center would encounter their perpetrator going to or coming from the Crowell Building for sexual misconduct related meetings.  

2.  The move would displace the Women's Center from a central part of campus

A location serves as a physical embodiment of what a space means to Duke.  Moving the Women's Center to the current Wellness Center space would hide the Women's Center on a remote corner of campus, thus implying that it is not of importance to Duke.  Having the Women’s Center on the main West Campus bus circle is incredibly significant. It sends a message that women, feminism/womanism, and women’s issues are subjects that Duke University values. So much of what the Women’s Center provides to students is integrally tied to its convenient location on West.

3.  The new space would decrease the visibility and effectiveness of the Women's Center

Very few people know where the new location is, which would significantly decrease attendance at all of our programming, from students of all genders and ages.  The Duke Coffeehouse, located directly above the proposed new location, frequently hosts late-night concerts that would disrupt programming in the Women’s Center.  Much of the Women's Center programming occurs after business hours as well.  Furthermore, the walk to the back of the Crowell Academic Building at night, which is not well-lit or well-populated, may make many students, particularly survivors of sexual assault, feel unsafe.

Duke administration has suggested that the "advantages" of moving the Women's Center include closer proximity to Women's Studies and the Baldwin Scholars Offices; closer proximity to Student Conduct to facilitate communication between Gender Violence Counselors and Student Conduct employees; the possibility of greater first-year engagement; and increased office space.  Yet the Women's Center is currently located directly below the Baldwin Scholars living section, and frequently collaborates with the Women's Studies Department, along with many other academic and extracurricular programs located on both East and West Campus.

In a survey circulated through the Duke Student Body, 96% of respondents said they would utilize Women's Center services less frequently if it moved to East Campus.  Moving the center to East Campus would mean that the Women’s Center only has convenient access to approximately 25 percent of the Duke undergraduate population, as opposed to the almost 100 percent of students, both undergraduate and graduate, who frequent the activity hub of West Campus daily. This would impact the reach of the community programs that we facilitate, decrease student engagement, and would result in a student population that collectively fails to receive the services and programming we provide, and the values we espouse. Our capacity to form collaborative relationships with students and other identity centers would be significantly hampered, to the detriment of an intersectional movement against oppression and for justice.

Please sign this petition to tell Duke administration not to move the Women's Center, and encourage them to show that they care about the wellbeing and safety of its students. 


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