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The Centre for Women and Trans People (CWT) is a Waterloo campus student service that strives to build a community of people and ideas that challenges and examines gender-based inequalities. Everyone should have equal access to education in a positive learning environment. In an effort to instigate change, this woman- and trans-positive space offers an extensive collection of academic, community and informational resources and referral services, as well as opportunities to actively engage in awareness campaigns.
The events and campaigns that the Women’s Centre puts on throughout the year are just one way that we reach out to the Laurier community, and may be what we are best known for. If you don’t have time to volunteer with the Women’s Centre, but would like to join us in learning about and taking a stand against gender inequalities, come participate in one of our events or programs.
- Radical Bodies (performance art event)
- Errata (zine)
- Shattering the Silver Screen (movie night)
Previous programming has included events such as:
- Open mic nights;
- Sexual health awareness campaigns;
- “I am a Feminist” campaign;
- The Vagina Monologues (show).
Volunteering with CWT
Our volunteers are our most valuable resource. Without them, our centre could not be open to the public and we wouldn’t function as a collective. We are always looking for new volunteers, no matter what time of year. Interested in volunteering? Simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have initial volunteer training at the beginning of each semester, but we also train volunteers throughout the year.
I Got Trained as a Volunteer... Now What?
Once you’ve undergone our training process, there are a few responsibilities that you have as a volunteer.
- Volunteers are required to hold one office hour a week.
- During your office hour, you keep the space open, greet visitors, shelve returned books, etc.
- Volunteers are also required to attend the weekly CWT meeting, held on Sundays at 7 p.m. If you are unable to attend meetings, you are responsible for keeping up-to-date with meeting minutes, collective emails and for voicing your opinions on collective decisions in other ways.
As a new volunteer, this means that when you come to your first meeting, you have a say in what goes on. No matter how long you’ve been with the CWT, your major, academic year, gender identity, or political stance, every person has something unique to bring to the table.
By the same token, as was once said on Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. In a structure that empowers each person with the ability to have a large influence, each individual member is also necessarily given a greater share of responsibility to regularly attend meetings and actively use the voice they’ve been given. Because the power is put into "the people," rather than a governing body, each person holds a significant share of the power that’s needed to get things done.
The Centre for Women and Trans People uses a collective structure that values the voices and input of each member of the group. This model establishes a non-hierarchical relationship amongst its members by providing each individual with equal amounts of decision-making power. Everyone has equal value and equal authority so no one person or group of people is privileged. Because women’s voices have historically been marginalized, our use of a consensus-building decision-making process aspires to bring a variety of voices out of the margins.
Coordinators within the collective structure of the CWT possess no more authority or decision-making power than any other collective member. For each coordinator position, the collective elects a member to oversee specific facets of the centre’s operations. All coordinators can be reached at email@example.com
The Laurier Brantford Women’s Centre (LBWC) is a designated as a safer space for self-identified women on the Brantford campus. The LBWC aims to raise awareness of gender-related issues on campus, engage in intersectionality, and foster growth and solidarity among self-identified women on campus. We do this through providing space, hosting events and running awareness campaigns throughout the year.
The events can include guest speakers, workshops, discussion groups, peer support groups, film series, and book clubs. We envision a safer space on campus for self-identified women that honours the intersections of our identities. We recognize that all individuals experience intersecting oppression that manifests itself in complex and overlapping ways. We challenge all forms of oppression and encourage everyone to engage in allyship including recognizing, deconstructing, and confronting their privilege.
We are committed to encouraging change through action, critical discourse, and personal growth. We provide a woman-positive space and connections to community resources. We engage in activism, education and advocacy in an effort to make every space on our campus safer and more supportive.
In the spirit of constant growth and development, we recognize that historically feminism has primarily served the needs of white, heterosexual, cisgender, non-intersex, able-bodied women. We hereby commit to broadening our perspective through anti-oppressive training, allyship, actively seeking out marginalized perspectives, and creating space for disenfranchised voices to be heard. This is a continuous process, and we welcome suggestions, advice, and critiques.
The Women’s Centre recognizes that all individuals experience intersecting oppression that manifests itself in complex and overlapping ways. We challenge all forms of oppression and encourage everyone to engage in allyship including recognizing, deconstructing, and confronting their privilege. Our values:
- growth through dialogue
- anti-oppressive decision-making
- action and social change
Ways to Get Involved
If you identify with our cause, you should become a member. To become a member of Laurier Brantford Women’s Centre you must commit to attending a predetermined number of events and/or meetings throughout the year. Membership in LBWC is beneficial to you as it lets you get involved in leadership roles and you will be able to list involvement with Laurier Brantford Women’s Centre on your Co-Curricular Record.
Simply get involved by attending one of our meetings or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The CWT and LWBC serve as a resource to the Laurier campus and everyone on it. This section provides a brief overview of some relevant community and informational resources.
- Library: Information on how to use the CWT's library and what’s in it.
- Community Resources: General information about organizations and services in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Brantford communities, including information about CWT's extensive Waterloo Region services referrals binder.
- Informational Resources and Blogs: Some interesting websites to learn from.
On our Waterloo campus, books are available through the Laurier Library and are catalogued under the Primo library system, which means that if you are searching for gender-themed books and journals at the library, you will probably be referred to the Women’s Centre Circulation Desk.
Library materials will be loaned to you for the same amount of time as all other Primo items; our journals may not be signed out, but we are happy to let you (legally) photocopy the pages you need.
We also have a growing library of VHS tapes, DVDs and CDs, which you are welcome to watch or listen to at the centre for school or for pleasure.
Book Wish List
The Centre for Women and Trans People (CWT) is continually expanding our library. We have set up a wish list at Amazon.ca for volunteers to post books that the centre is interested in acquiring. If you have any of the books listed, or are able to purchase any, this is a great way to contribute to the CWT! We ask that you try to purchase used, locally, or from a social enterprise bookseller if at all possible (see suggestions below).
- Rainbow Centre/Rainbow Alliance
- Gendered Violence Prevention and Support
- Self-Help Resources
- Health and Wellness
- Special Constable Services
- Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region
- Sexual Assualt Centre of Brant
- Shore Centre (Formerly Planned Parenthood Waterloo Region)
In Waterloo, the Centre for Women and Trans People has an extensive resources referrals binder, with information on a wide variety of on- and off-campus services and organizations. The binder is accessible from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Informational Resources and Blogs
Project Respect, or the "Yes Means Yes" program
Project Respect is a prevention program for youth ages 14 to 19 that aims to stop sexual violence, particularly acquaintance assault. "Date Rape," as it is commonly referred to, is a serious risk for youth. Project Respect challenges the attitudes and behaviours that lead to sexual violence: stereotypes, labels, miscommunication, drugs and alcohol, media pressure and power imbalance. Project Respect’s website is a great resource for anyone who would like to learn more about what causes sexual assault, or for anyone who wants to learn about how to talk to others about the topic. See yesmeansyes.com.
The MAASV Program: Male Allies Against Sexual Violence
The MAASV Program is a project for men based out of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region. The purpose of The MAASV Program is to provide men with the opportunity to learn how they can work to end sexual violence against women and children with the support of our centre. Any man, 18 years of age or older, is eligible to apply to attend the training sessions. The MAASV Program includes 14 hours of training around issues of sexual violence and how men can be active in ending violence against women. www.maleallies.org
Feministing is a multi-perspectival feminist blog based on the concept that young women are rarely given the opportunity to speak on their own behalf on issues that affect their lives and futures. Feministing provides a platform for women and feminist men to comment, analyze, influence and connect. Feministing is also an online community for feminists and their allies. The community aspect of Feministing – their community blog, rating system, and related social networking sites exist to better connect feminists online and off, and to encourage activism. feministing.com
Herstory (A History of the Centre for Women and Trans People in Waterloo)
A Call to Action
In the fall of 1989, many women and men at Laurier took exception to the traditional "panty raids" and the subsequent display of the spoils in the cafeteria. Exception was taken to the violence of the raids themselves and to the comments written in reference to women generally, as well as to gay men and lesbian women.
A small group of women begn meeting to address issues of unhealthy gender relations on campus. In subsequent meetings with Laurier administration, it was discovered that the panty raids were sanctioned and organized by administration as a method of orienting new female and male students to life at university.
It was evident, then, that:
- Laurier was promoting unhealthy gender relations on campus; and
- There was no safe place for women on campus to voice their concerns, inform and educate themselves about their issues, or receive affirmation for themselves as women.
From the Gender Relations Committee (an ad hoc group that formed to address the issues of violence toward women on campus), a small group of female students began meeting to discuss the formation of a women's centre at Laurier. This group wanted to provide a safe place for women on campus to voice thier concerns, inform and educate themselves about their issues, and receive affirmation for themselves as women.
Despite the recent history at Laurier regarding the panty raids, the women supporting the development of a women’s centre met with opposition from the following:
- A group that wanted a "gender centre" for men and women.
- A group that wanted a "sexual relations centre" for men and women.
- Some men on campus (students, administration, and faculty) who were generally opposed to women having a place of their own.
The group of women that felt there was a great need for a women’s centre at Laurier advertised their meetings to discover if other women felt the same way. With perseverance and the support of women and some men on campus, the Women’s Centre received approval and funding from the Laurier administration in May of 1990.
Over the summer of 1990, a handful of women formed themselves into a collective and worked with the administration to refine the proposal and budget and to find a suitable space for the centre on campus. This space had not been located by September, the proposal was still in draft form, and the contract with the university around issues such as accountability was not yet finalized.
First Years of the Women's Centre
In September 1990, the women who remained involved with the Women’s Centre developed the following:
Terms of Reference for the Interim Collective
- Every member is responsible for attending meetings and expressing her views and allowing others to freely express their views.
- Individual members will express the views of the collective when representing the collective in the Laurier community.
- Wherever possible, decisions will be made by consensus of the members (those who have attended the two previous meetings and who are actively involved in one or more tasks for the centre).
Space was located and set up for the 1990/91 academic year at 202 Regina Street. It comprised two rooms: an office and a combined library/reading/meeting room which had been appropriately and comfortably furnished. Also, a definition of suitable space was forwarded to the Laurier administration.
The collective members participated in a workshop in which they examined the policies and procedures of other women’s centres and outlined initial operating guidelines for the Women’s Centre at Laurier.
A book drive during the fall launched the collection for related literature, books, pamohlets, and information for the centre’s library.
Towards Advocacy and Inclusion
During 1991 and 1992, the Women’s Centre became established as a safe space for women and as a forum for advocacy and activism on campus. The centre presented film festivals, guest speakers, informational booths and seminars. Events such as the commemoration of the Montreal Massacre, a celebration of International Women’s Week, and an annual open house to acquaint the community with the Centre became regular happenings. As well, a weekly editorial column in the student newspaper, The Cord, served as a space for members of the collective to express themselves and address the student community.
In the summer of 1993, space on the main campus was finally located for the Women’s Centre. The office was situated in the breezeway linking the Theatre Auditorium to the men’s residence. The library/reading/meeting room was designated as a women-first space and was located in room 220.
In the summer of 1994, the Women’s Centre resources were listed on the main library’s QCAT system to make them more accessible to all members of the university community. Differing editorial opinions between the Women’s Centre collective and the Cord led to the withdrawal of the Women’s Centre column from the paper and the initiation of the Women’s Centre newsletter, "Errata."
Since its opening, the Centre’s usage has steadily increased each year. The Centre for Women and Trans People has continued its referral and advocacy work both within the university community and within the larger Kitchener-Waterloo community.