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Making space for the Women’s Health Resource Center

After two years of campaigning for a campus health resource center, ASMC has provided the Committee to Open a Women’s Health Resource Center with funds for such a center, but no space has been allotted for the project.

The current Women’s Resource Center provides general health and peer counseling services for women on campus.

The Committee is headed by senior Erin Mowlds. According to their mission statement, the Committee wants to “create a student-run, sustainable on-campus space that provides confidential, safe access to information and resources concerning women’s health and safety for all Mills College students.”

For now, the center is “traveling,” which means that every Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Committee sets out a table of brochures and condoms.

They hope to eventually get an office in order to hold private counseling, more extensive health information and possibly a campus nurse.

Space is one of the biggest problems for the center, according to the Powerpoint presentation the Committee gave during the Women’s Resource Center Roundtable Discussion on April 9.

Karen Maggio, associate vice president of Campus Facilities and Building Maintenance, said that the campus is “packed to the brim.”

Potential locations for the office included the Rothwell Center, but Maggio said this is not a good choice “because you want some privacy and Rothwell does not have that.”

Tracy Peerson, the Women’s Resource chair for ASMC, suggested one of the guest rooms on the fourth floor of Mills Hall because “it’s a central location and it’s private.”
Maggio said that the guest rooms are “not a bad idea” and promised to look into it.

Currently, Mills students must travel to University of California at Berkeley to get medical services at the Tang Center. Health Director and Liaison for the Tang Center, Cynthia Turner, is also available for consultation in the Cowell building.

Turner said that she can help most students by referring them to the proper medical authority, but she spends a limited amount of time at Mills.

She believes that having an on-campus nurse would ensure that student needs are served. “The person [may] not always be here when the need is here unless they’re here all the time,” Turner said.

The Committee hopes to eventually get a Residential Nurse or Nurse Practitioner to offer on-campus clinic services like pregnancy testing.

Senior Erin Mowlds, the head of the Committee, believes that a nurse will help students get immediate medical attention but also admits that the nurse can only do so much. “They’ll have to refer people to the Tang Center if [the condition] is out of their league, but they’ll have services,” she said.

Mowlds said that 20 to 25 students are interested in training for the center, which she said will begin at the end of August. Though the Committee has yet to develop a training program, she said that Sexual Health Educators Program at UC Berkeley Tang Center is willing to help.

Some people who attended the Roundtable expressed concern over the center.

Associate Professor of Public Policy Carol Chetkovich thinks that the center might be covering too many broad health topics at once. She suggested that the Committee poll students and focus on the top concerns.

Turner believes more diversity is in order. She suggested that the center offer things like information on breast exams and menopause for Mills students that are beyond the traditional college age.

Daphne Muse, director of Women’s Leadership Institute, agreed. “As someone who has experienced the joys of meno-pause and felt like running off a building, screaming – I’d have liked a little place,” she said.

For now, the Committee will continue to campaign for an office. “We’re happy to have support and the resources; we just need space,” said junior Samantha Foster.