Women's Center to eliminate counseling from programming

    Editor's note: quotes from Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Jabbar Bennett were added to this story on September 29 at 8 a.m. 

    The 30th anniversary of Northwestern University Women's Center will be marked by a number of changes including a search for a new director and the elimination of counseling.

    According to an email sent yesterday afternoon by Provost Dan Linzer and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Jabbar Bennett, these changes come following an evaluation carried out by the Office of Change Management last spring. The report, which has not yet been released in full, was initiated to help the Center evolve and "to reimagine the ways in which the Center can have a lasting impact and further its mission," said Provost Linzer in the email.

    Counseling previously offered at the Women's Center that has been offered each of the Center's 30 years since its founding in 1986 will cease this winter and integrate with Counseling and Psychological Services. According to the report, the change will be made "in order to ensure access for students and support for the clinician."

    The email says the Center says it will continue to develop programming it offers throughout the year, and also notes the renovations that took place this summer. The Center, with the help of Associate Provost Jabbar Bennett, will begin a leadership search this year following long-serving Director Renee Redd's retirement earlier this year.

    Bennett says he believes the changes to the Center will have a positive impact across campus, and thinks that by integrating the current Women's Center counselor (who is currently the only staff counselor in the Center) into the team at CAPS, students will have better access to resources. The CAPS decision to expand its capacity has allowed them to take on new staff, which will include the Women's Center counselor. While Bennett acknowledges that the change to counseling has resounded negatively with a number of students, he says that the integration shouldn't affect the students Women's Center counseling currently works with.

    "The counselor will continue to see students with whom she already is working, and also will continue her work with campus support groups, such as those for working mothers and sexual assault survivors," said Bennett in an email. "As part of her function at CAPS, she will remain connected to the Women’s Center by serving as liaison to the Women’s Center as well as CARE. She will also provide Let’s Talk hours in the Women’s Center."

    Bennett says he hopes the continuing changes will be "a resource relevant to and meets the needs of an ever-evolving and diverse community to women and women-identified individuals at Northwestern among our student, faculty and staff populations."

    The Women's Center encourages students to reach out to them at womenscenter@northwestern.edu to share thoughts and ideas about the future of the Center.


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