Women’s Center marks 40 years of promoting culture of social justice, equity, nonviolence

Photo credit: Parker Robb.

In 1973, the K-State Women’s Center was established to
assist students who have suffered rape or sexual assault. The center provides
24-hour assistance for students who have been victimized by violence. This
month marks the 40th anniversary of the Women’s Center, a
commemoration that Mary Todd, director of the center, said she wishes wasn’t happening.

“I’m sorry that we’re commemorating 40 years,” Todd said. “I wish we didn’t need a Women’s Center.”

Todd, in her past 10 years as director, said she has not seen a decrease in the need for the center.

“There’s just as many people being assaulted and even more opportunities for people to get away with it,” Todd said.

Though the hope is that one will never have a need to go there, many students are glad that there is such a place.

“I’m from a small town in South Dakota so while Manhattan isn’t incredibly large, it still provided new worries when I came to college,” Kyla Wolkow, junior in hotel and restaurant management, said. “Knowing that the Women’s Center is there definitely eases those worries a bit.”

It also provides students a sense of security.

“It does comfort me,” Adriane Barry, junior in family studies and human services, said. “It’s nice to know that there’s a place that will have an unbiased opinion about those they help.”

The mission of the center is social justice, equity and nonviolence. Nonviolence, the most recent addition to the mission statement, is the goal that drives most of the community outreach.

“A lot of our outreach has to do with building connections,” Todd said. “The default should be to care and to look out for each other.”

The center sponsors events all year long, including events that aren’t directly related to the center like Noontime Yoga, the Empty Bowls Project and Movies on the Grass. According to Todd, all the events are related under the mission of nonviolence.

“People ask me, ‘What does yoga have to do with rape prevention?’ Well, if you are a centered, happy, peaceful being, you are adding to the change in our culture,” Todd said. “All acts of nonviolence are connected.”