“There needs to be more emotional, mental and physical support for these victims than just reporting, because many are scared to do that, and I think it’s putting us back a few steps.”

A project group comprised of Wayne State student senators and WSU students are working to create a women’s services center on campus. 

This idea arose from the annual Senate Advance, a brainstorming session meant to produce goals and projects. The committee, Dalia Ibrahim, Keiara Bell, Nourhan Hamadi, Kelley Donnelly, Kate Partington, Jasmine Thomas, Erika Ruch, Sameen Akhtar, Tammara Sal and Richard Hsu aim to establish a safe space specifically dedicated to women’s physical, emotional, and mental health.

Bell, a first-year graduate student in the urban planning department and director of community affairs on the Senate, said the women’s services center would serve as a hub that connects all women’s health organizations, services and resources within a single destination that is easily accessible for all students. 

“We know that we have COSW [President’s Commission on the Status of Women] and we have the Campus Health Center, but we don’t have a hub that connects all of them,” Bell said. “We don’t have a hub that connects CAPS [Counseling and Psychological Services] for women.”

Bell said the team wants to place free women’s sanitary products, emergency hotline numbers and informational pamphlets in campus bathrooms, as well as establish daycare services for single parents. 

“We understand that we are an urban university that is so unique in the sense that we don’t just have first-year students coming in as freshman, we have people who have families, we have people who are working every day who come at night with their child,” Bell said.

Ibrahim, a sophomore political science and peace and conflict studies major, is also Senate treasurer. She said another goal is to change WSU’s protocol for reporting sexual assault for both females and males.

“As of right now, if you are sexually assaulted, it has to go to Wayne State Police. If not directly, you talk to someone who tells Wayne State Police and at the very end of the food chain, it goes to Dean Strauss [Dean of Students] because he is the Title IX coordinator,” Ibrahim said. “There needs to be more emotional, mental and physical support for these victims than just reporting, because many are scared to do that, and I think it’s putting us back a few steps.” 

University Counselor Sara Byczek, Ph.D., said COSW and CAPS are prepared to assist the Senate team in any way they can as they work towards their goal.

“I meet with many women who struggle with previous trauma such as relationship violence and sexual assault/abuse and the aftermath of these experiences,” Byczek said. “I believe that women are in need of support and recognition of the unique struggles they face and avenues and areas where they can work together to make larger change happen to create a more equal and equitable community and culture.”

The proposal is still in its research stage. The team has been working on finding statistics and looking for ways to set a sustainable budget through grants, scholarships and partnerships. They are currently looking for assistance from the Office of the Provost, the Dean of Students Office, CAPS, COSW, First Lady Jacqueline Wilson and the HIGH Program.

“The goal by the end of the year is to have a proposition given to Wayne State’s provost and faculty and really get this to be an undertaking,” Ibrahim said. “Our primary goal is to create a center that will provide or at least facilitate both mental and physical resources for women… a safe place that can provide information and answer any questions a woman might have about either her own physical health, or perhaps her mental and emotional well-being.”

For more information, follow WSU’s Student Senate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or visit their official website: studentsenate.wayne.edu. Those that are interested in working on the women’s services center initiative can send inquiries for meeting times to studentsenate@wayne.edu

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