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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

September 10, 2004

Women's center has variety of services

by Linda Charles

The scent of baking bread mingles with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. It's the start of another day at the Margaret Sloss Women's Center.

In the dining room, two Chinese women practice their English skills, while in the living room, an undergraduate does homework on a laptop.

Upstairs in her office, coordinator Penny Rice checks her e-mail, chuckling as she remembers one she received from a father wondering if she could find his son a date.

Rice doesn't run a dating service, although she did send the father some ideas on ways his son could improve his social life. What she does run is a haven for women (faculty, staff and students) on campus.

The 1883 house, originally a campus home for faculty members, offers comfy places to sit and chat, a full kitchen available to everyone, a library and a staff trained to listen and guide women through life's experiences.

Penny Rice in kitchen area of the Women's Center

Coordinator Penny Rice slices some of the freshly made s center Monday through Friday. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Brown bag lunches

One way the staff does that is through noon brown-bag lunches Monday through Wednesday. The meetings are on a first-come basis; seating limits attendance to about 15.

Monday's topic this fall is "Menstruation to Menopause." "We know a lot about our own bodies," Rice said, "but we don't share it with others." The first lunch is set for Sept. 13.

Tuesdays will bring "Taboo Topics," with discussions ranging from religion and politics to bureaucracy in the workplace. The first session will be Sept. 14.

Wednesday lunches will include speakers on a variety of subjects. At first lunch, Sept. 29, dietitian Sally Barclay will discuss women's nutritional needs.

The center also will hold two book discussions (The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid, noon Sept. 23, and Close Range by Anne Proulx, noon Nov. 18). Space is limited for the drop-in discussions; those who want to reserve a space should contact the women's center.

Revolutionary tea parties

New this year will be "Revolutionary Tea Parties."

"Tea parties were the first place women were allowed to gather and network," Rice said. The by-invitation teas will be an opportunity for about 40 campus women to gather, socialize, share resources and spend time with other women. The first tea will be on Sept. 22.

"Women's Awakening" is a noon meeting for non-traditional students (such as staff taking classes or those who have returned to school after spending time in the workforce). The group meets one Friday a month. The first meeting will be on Sept. 24.

Ending violence against women is the focus of a men's group that meets every other Tuesday night. The first meeting begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 21.

The center also offers the Graduate Women's Network, which helps women graduate students meet and support each other, as well as meet with possible mentors.

Annual events

The annual Faculty Women's Luncheon will be from 12:10 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, in the Memorial Union Campanile Room. A panel of senior faculty will discuss "How I Did It: Balancing Work and Family Issues." Cost is $13 (to pay for the catered lunch) and reservations are due by Sept. 27 at the women's center.

And don't forget "Men Flipping Burgers" in front of the women's center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1. The burgers are free, but donations are accepted.

The women's center now is wireless-enabled and has eight laptops that can be used in the house, along with a desktop computer and printer. There are lockers to store such items as books and bags (just bring your own lock), and the center's library has more than 1,000 books, videos and tapes that can be checked out.

The house is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and may be reserved for free after hours (a $100 damage deposit is required).

And then, there's the kitchen, complete with a new bread machine, which mean fresh bread every morning.

"Everyone's invited to stop by for a slice of fresh bread, a cup of coffee or cocoa, some conversation, and just to relax," Rice said.

Contact information

Phone: 4-4154


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