Mauve. Maroon. Pleasantly pale burgundy. Putridly dark pink from the third ring of hell. A color only a colorblind mother could love. Opinions differ wildly about the color of the pre-owned leather couch, love seat and easy chair now installed in the new Women’s Resource Center, but everyone agrees they are extremely comfy. The bright room, tucked downstairs in the Gander World Studies Center, was recently painted in appealing tones of melon and key lime in preparation for an open house yesterday. Visiting gave you the distinct impression that you were immersed in a delicious sunny fruit salad. With watermelon upholstery.
Well, I say it’s just as invigorating as jumping into a fruit salad when inspired students work together to make a positive change on campus. The Woman’s Resource Center is the inspiration of juniors Emily Mente and Anna Knecht, with support from Town Meeting and many individuals in the community. Senior Nic Petr built beautiful tables from recycled doors and table legs, and many community members brought by books for the center’s growing library. Bookshelves are in the works, as is a mural, and sophomore Cora Lively is working on a “zine” in support of the center.
The idea is to provide a safe space on campus for young women to explore issues of gender, sexism and oppression. Emily said some of their first projects will be a film series, a “take back the night” event and hopefully some guest speakers. Far from excluding people of the guy persuasion, the open house welcomed several male visitors, and Emily was even looking for a likely candidate to lead a discussion on masculinity. Regardless of gender, preference seemed to be evenly divided on whether to use slipcovers or not.
In this tiny hilltop community where everyone feels it when you stub your toe, it is hard to even imagine the scale of devastation and misery following the earthquake in Haiti three weeks ago. As many as 2 million people are left homeless and hungry in Port-au-Prince, more than three times the population of Vermont. Well, luckily, students here are used to tackling tough issues, because they are taking to this challenge like James Joyce’s Ulysses or Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Students in “dedicated hour” with Lynnette Rummel, political science professor, are busy with some ambitious fundraising to support relief efforts in Haiti, as announced in the last Town Meeting by senior Nicole Hammond and sophomore Cailin Marsden.
Lynnette’s advisees met with interested community members last week over lunch to discuss which organizations in Haiti would be most beneficial to support, inspiring a lively debate as always. While some students were interested in contributing to a specific project of Partners in Health, where results of the donation could be tracked, it was pointed out that this actually made more work for the organization. Restricted funds may be fine and dandy when donating for a new roller derby arena at Marlboro, but in Haiti, where lives and basic human rights are at stake, community members agreed that a general donation to Partners in Health would be most welcome and effective.
How much, you say? These kids aren’t thinking about lunch money. Starting with a generous donation of $250 from President Ellen, they hope to match that amount from each group of constituents, faculty, staff and students, by the end of this week. The total will be matched by the college and the sum of those two will be further matched by the college trustees, following a proposal by the same tireless students to the board last weekend. It’s a money-multiplying scheme that would make Bernie Madoff jealous, culminating with a bake sale this Friday. The total will be $4,000 or more, not bad for a handful of students on a snowy hilltop.
Learn more about ways to help Haiti, on campus or through national efforts.