A Hub for Equality

U of M Women’s Center introduces new study lounge

Women's Lounge entrance

photo: Olivia Novotny

The transformation into a relaxing haven was finally complete for room 65 of Appleby Hall on Sept. 17. Tree decals now adorn the walls and sky. Cloud stickers cover the fluorescent lights, casting a soft glow on this sanctuary complete with bowl chairs and a small fountain. The new study lounge area is for students to unwind, hang out, do homework, and interact with Women’s Center staff.

The Women’s Center has been around since 1960—it was the first Women’s Center on a university campus. The Women’s Center works to advance gender equity for students, staff, faculty, and alumni. They host events, facilitate volunteer programs and workshops, and have their own scholarship program where they give away $60,000 in awards.

Welcome to the Women's Lounge

photo: Olivia Novotny

Before its move to Appleby Hall five years ago, the Women’s Center was located in a now demolished building on campus. There, they had more space and a lounge. Staff feels a lounge is an essential part of the effect and purpose of a Women’s Center.

“This is a really exciting progression for us. Just the fact that we are able to physically open our doors in the same way we do metaphorically to ideas,” said Bronwyn Miller, program coordinator at the Women’s Center.

“We want to increase presence among all students, and not just have a good space for particular students, but everyone,” said Miller. “Everyone is welcome to come and learn about gender equity and women’s centers in general.”

photo: Olivia Novotny

photo: Olivia Novotny

The lounge is meant for a safe place to study, but it is also a good place for students to ask questions and get informal coaching and advising.

“There are some people that think that we don’t need women’s centers anymore because we have Hillary and Oprah and Beyoncé, but there are still many barriers facing women, particularly women of color and women in STEM fields,” said Peg Lonnquist, the director of the Women’s Center.

It is these barriers that the Women’s Center strives to educate students about. With a lounge, doing this is even more possible.

“We worked really diligently to consider each piece of that lounge.” Miller said. “I’m really proud of how it’s come together.”