WRC creates space for conversation, home cooking

"Home Sweet Home" night offers food and conversation in the WRC. (Allegra Pocinki/The Phoenix)
“Home Sweet Home” night offers food and conversation in the WRC. (Allegra Pocinki/The Phoenix)

This semester, students at Swarthmore College will have another party option on Saturday evenings. At the Women’s Resource Center (WRC), parties with different themes each week will provide a cozy and home-like atmosphere. This past Saturday, the themed party “Home Sweet Home” served home-cooked food with the goal of having “all the comforts of the home cooked meal without the awkward conversations about your future,” Marian Firke ’14, one of the house sitters of the WRC, said.

The WRC Saturday evening coffeehouse, a new initiative open to all genders, is intended to bring another type of party culture to the campus. Christina Keller ’14, one of the co-interns of the WRC, believes it is a place for people who seldom find themselves at an Olde Club or Paces party on a Saturday night to chat with their friends, have delicious food and especially enjoy the only chance on a Saturday night for free coffee, all in a dry and safe place. Even for those who frequently go to parties, the coffeehouse enables them to take a break from loud music and crowded dance floors.

The idea of initiating these parties partially comes from the WRC members’ meeting with the sorority proposers. According to Keller, their meeting directed the attention of the WRC members to the limited hours of the WRC, especially on weekends. When organizing the Saturday evening parties, the members of WRC felt the importance of maintaining a safe place for party-goers at the college. “We’ve found as we’ve hosted these coffeehouses, that keeping the space dry has, in many ways, been wonderful for the campus social scene,” Keller said.

Since the Women’s Resource Center was built, it has maintained the idea of “serving and creating community for women of all diverse backgrounds on campus,” Andrea Jacome ’14 said, who is one of the co-interns at the WRC. Jacome talked about the history of the center. The WRC building was originally a sorority many years ago and later on, when the sorority disbanded themselves by consensus, they formed the Alice Paul Center which was later named the WRC.

The WRC brought participants a series of events that display numerous paths to maintain physical and mental well-being. Women’s Luncheon, a semesterly event that attracts a great number of students, staff and faculty, holds conversations on ways to take care of oneself. Last semester, according to Keller, body image and how to love your body were debated during the luncheon. The Women’s Luncheon also includes a raffle of bath and wellness supplies. Commenting on the popularity of this event, Keller said that, “this past semester, we had to cap the attendance at 100 so we would have enough food for everyone.”

Topics that will be carried on at the WRC also include workshops, as Keller mentioned, like the Sex Toy Workshop, Alternative Menstrual Products Workshop, DIY Cosmetics Workshop and Consent Workshop from the organization Philly Stands Up. Jovanna Hernandez ’13, one of the house sitters of the WRC, found the Transformative Justice workshop from Philly Stands Up last year to be very impressive. The workshop taught participants how to be accountable, self-sustainable and how to solve sexual assault problems, like violence among romantic partners. “They really talk about ways that aim to face the problems,” Hernandez said. The issue of sexual assault on campus and the College’s policy regarding it has become a widely discussed topic among students, according to Raisa Reyes ’15, one of the house sitters of the WRC. She feels that the college should make the policies on this issue clear to more students.

Issues related to women contain many different aspects that lead to many concerns and thoughts. Joan O’Bryan ’13, a house sitter at the WRC, cares about women in America’s work force, as the US is one of only three countries in the world where women do not get paid when they are on pregnancy leave. Emma Spady ’13, who came to the party on Saturday, talked about how women are sometimes supposed to act in certain ways in professional life, citing the sentences from her mother, a buisness woman, “My mother is always bothering me and saying that ‘Your hair is too long. Women with long hair don’t get respected in professional life. You also have to be very aggressive.’” Keller also expressed her ideas. She believes that women should be allowed to choose whatever they want to do, whether that be political activism or baking, filmmaking or knitting, and no one should judge them for it.

While the WRC provides room for many widely concerning women’s issues, it is not a place exclusive to women. It is rather a community where everyone is given the chance to meet new friends and is provided with an atmosphere in which people can talk freely, whether about popular singers or the troublesome things that happened in the week. “Our major difficulty right now I’d say is getting out that this is a gender friendly space — all genders are welcome,” Jacome said.

For people who enjoy art and crafts and creating products that they need by themselves, there are weekly skill sharing events during open hours, which are Monday-Thursday 7-11pm and Sunday 5:30-7:30pm, that give participants instructions on knitting, mug painting and zine making, etc. Next Friday, Feb. 24 from 4 to 6 p.m., people will also make lavender satchels, learn about good sleep habits, and taste test different kinds of tea at the slumber party in Shane lounge.

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