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Women's Resource and Action Center to target more males

BY TIERRA SIMPSON | AUGUST 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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The University of Iowa Women's Resource and Action Center hosts its annual open house today, but this year, officials expect to see a greater interest from the opposite sex.

The open house runs from 4-6 p.m. today at 130 N. Madison St. The event is held every fall, and it has been in the making for the past three months.

"We know that we are going to do [the open house] every year, but over the summer we really spend a lot of time thinking about what we are going to talk about, what we are going to feature, and what we are going try to make visible," said Linda Stewart Kroon, the director of the resource center.

The center stands for social justice and the inclusion of everyone and makes it a point to let people know that everyone is welcome, no matter the gender, Kroon said.

Several students say this move would be beneficial.

"It's important to have [a center] for everyone, because men can also feel injustice from the opposite sex, proving there should be a resource where both parties can work together to better social relations," UI freshman Marshall Clark said.

UI freshman Symone Farmer took an interest in the resource center after attending Freshman Orientation.

"When I visited the house, I really felt that they welcomed [the students]," Farmer said. "The group seems to really empower people of all kinds. I think some people assume that the center is just for women, but they make it clear that anyone can become involved."

One UI expert stressed the importance of including both men and women in the events covered by the resource center.

"The issues that the Women's Resource and Action Center addresses are issues that have a lot to do with both men and women, in the sense that women are in relationships with men," said UI psychology Professor Michael O'Hara. "So often the problems women have are problems that arise out of relationships, and I'm not just talking about romantic relationships."

The Women's Resource and Action Center has numerous upcoming events this year, including an outdoor musical festival it holds every September.

"Unlike a lot of other music festivals, all the performers on the stage will be women," Kroon said. "Usually you go to musical festivals, and most of the performers are men, so we're providing an opportunity for a lot of women musicians to showcase their talent."

Officials strive to give students more information about the center and welcome and connect students, Kroon said.

The resource center takes into account student opinions. Every year, the resource center sets up focus groups of students who are both involved with the center and those who are not, to see what students are interested in and gauge what students think they should be working on, Kroon said.

"I'm here to work for the students," she said. "We pay attention to what are mission is, and we have a mission that is a social-justice focus. We're trying to create greater equity for all kinds of people on the campus and in the community."

The resource center has a wide range of volunteer opportunities, from leading support groups to registering people to vote. While more women than men come to the open house, the attendance of men is getting closer every year, Kroon said.

"Everyone is welcome," she said. "We hope that folks will see us as a place where they can get involved and jump in."


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