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U Of S Jane Kopas Women’s Center Celebrates 25 Years

March 3, 2019 GMT

SCRANTON — A University of Scranton center on the cutting edge of conversations about women’s issues, gender equality, and political and social justice celebrated 25 years Saturday with remarks by and recognition for those who helped build and sustain it. The Jane Kopas Women’s Center was arguably ahead of its time when it was founded in 1994. Known then as the Campus Women’s Center, it set the university apart from many other Jesuit institutions. For the past 25 years, the center has raised awareness of gender-based issues, including gender-based violence, injustice and inequity. It’s also been instrumental in raising awareness about “the status of women at the university and how we can continue to advance that,” said Maria Marinucci, director of the school’s Cross Cultural Centers, which includes the women’s center. At an anniversary luncheon at the university’s Brennan Hall, about 55 students, faculty, alumni and volunteers celebrated that legacy, with some reflecting on how the women’s center affected their lives. “I thought that I was kidding myself if I ever attempted to believe that I could be a leader or an activist fighting for the change that I wanted to see,” graduate assistant Megan Barr said of a time before she became known to many as “Megan who works in the women’s center.” “The center, its staff and volunteers met me where I was at,” she continued. “I needed space to learn the right language for the things that I had felt my whole life, and I was given that. ... I don’t think I’m quite ready for a time in my life where I don’t have daily talks about current events, feminism and intersectionality, but I know that this place and the lessons I’ve learned follow me wherever I go.” Among many other programs and events, the center has sponsored “Empty Place at the Table” memorials honoring those who have died as a result of relationship violence. It also participates in “Take Back the Night,” a national rally against such violence and sexual assault, and works to educate students about healthy college relationships and consent. During the ceremony, the center honored Gerianne Barber, director of the university’s David W. Hall Counselor Training Center and a longtime women’s center “partner,” with a 25th anniversary legacy award for embodying its values, furthering its mission and “seeking to create a more just and safe world for all people.” “We’re all in it together,” a “speechless” Barber said during brief remarks. For information on its work and mission, call the women’s center at 570-941-6194. Contact the writer: jhorvath@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9141; @jhorvathTT on Twitter