In hopes of emphasizing its desire to support and equip women, the Women’s Resource Center changed its name to the Office of Women’s Development (OWD) at the beginning of the semester.
The familiar purple-clad office still serves to invite women to spend time and share their stories, host events and bring awareness to women’s issues, but is also focusing on a core set of projects and programs in hopes of developing them and the women involved.
OWD Director Elaine Richardson, Psy.D. said she believes the new name is more reflective of what the office does, and though the old name held years of meaning and history, the office has become more focused on development than programming.
“We are still able to do the same resourcing, but what we were doing more was developing the women on the campus by providing a place for leadership, for them to be educated about how to think and feel about themselves, their life on this campus and all of the possibilities,” Richardson said. “I wanted a name that would shift the mission to better reflect the changes that have transpired.”
The office had over 20 programs last year, and Richardson said that with the shift of the name came a shift in prioritizing quality over quantity.
The OWD now focuses on Women’s Night of Worship in both fall and spring; the Clothesline Project, which seeks to support victims of domestic violence and facilitate conversation; One Smart Cookie, a weekly Tuesday meeting from 12 to 1 p.m. that hosts speakers and provides cookies; Stand Up for Your Sister, a three-day event that allows women to anonymously share their experiences and have other women and men symbolically and literally stand up for them; and Sex and Chocolate, a spring event where guests enjoy treats and have their anonymous questions answered by a panel of married couples, singles and pastors.
OWD Program Coordinator Madeline Ho said the name change took some getting used to, but she believes it makes more sense in regards to their services and mission.
“I think when we were called the Women’s Resource Center, women felt like they had to have reason to come here,” Ho said. “We have always stressed that you don’t have to have a reason, you can just come and hang out, and the new name fits that more.”
Cynthia Arroyo, OWD undergraduate intern and junior English and journalism major, said she wants students to know how purposeful the office is in uplifting and educating women.
“We are advocates for women on campus,” Arroyo said. “We recognize what you’re going through and are not only here to be a support, but your leader and voice.”
Arroyo said her heart for the office is for women to feel well known, empowered and equipped to be the hands and feet of Jesus, which she said is crucial for a Christian campus and the Church to function effectively.
“We are vital for the overall health of this campus,” she said. “There need to be women who are lifted up. If half of the body of Christ is not supported, and at APU it’s more than half, they are not working to their fullest capacity.”
As the OWD has begun observing monthly themes, October recognizes ‘Hang it Up’ in honor of “airing your dirty laundry” through the Clothesline Project. November will observe ‘Girlfriendsgiving’ and December will celebrate ‘Presence.’
Arroyo has also started the office’s first-ever monthly newsletter, which describes the office’s monthly theme, highlights upcoming events and celebrates a woman on campus whom the OWD has selected as Woman of the Month. October’s recognized woman is Jessica Yeargin, Bachelor of Social Work administrative assistant and OWD Black Hair Forum speaker.
The OWD will be hosting the Clothesline Project in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Seven Palms on Oct. 10-13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The office is located by the OAT lawn behind the Cougar Dome and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. To learn more about the OWD, their resources, programs and events, visit apu.edu/womens-development.