Renaming the Women’s Resource Center

Both male and female victims of domestic violence not only deserve help, but deserve knowing full well that help is available.

Shameka Wilson, Director of the KSU Women’s Resource and Interpersonal Violence Prevention Center, has told me during the recent Love Your Body Week that renaming the center to something gender neutral was “one of her battles.” The gender studies coordinator Laura Davis and the Interdisciplinary studies chair Robbie Lieberman were aware of Wilson’s position toward the name when I approached them about the GWST program’s reading materials.

Male victims should not be led to believe that no services are available to them due to “Women” being in the name of the center. What good is offering support if half of the student population does not know you offer it?

Male victimization is by no means a negligible problem. In fact, on the top floor of the Social Science building, a directed study report on the often unreported IPV victimization of males can be found in the hall to the right of the elevators. I emailed the contact and got some references on male victimization for your review.

IPV study in Kennesaw State University Social Science building
IPV study in KSU Social Science building

Some may wonder: Should KSU Men’s name change under those same standards? No. KSUM specializes in men, and we allow other organizations that specialize in women to do what they wish to support women. But the WRC is a state-funded center with obligations to the public, not just to women.

Back on March 10th, I emailed Mrs. Wilson to follow up on what it would take to rename the center. She did not reply for two weeks, so I tried sending the email again on March 25th. The email read as follows:

Shameka,

This is Sage. I am the redhead you met at Southern Smash last Wednesday. We spoke briefly about a unisex name for the WRC, and you told me that it was “one of your fights.”
As someone who knows male victims that struggled (and sometimes still struggle) to find help as victims of IPV or rape, I know it is vitally important for these men to know help is available.
I am connected with a large network of human rights activists concerned about the issues facing men and boys, and I am sure we can help you rename the Women’s Resource & Interpersonal Violence Prevention Center to something gender neutral so that both men and women can have a place to go in their time of need.
Would you kindly tell me what exactly needs to be done to rename the center?
Regards,
Sage
On March 26th, Mrs. Wilson replied:

Hi Sage,

I don’t think the fight is renaming the Women’s Resource and Interpersonal Violence Prevention Center but creating a safe space for men to receive the resources and support they need to move from victims of interpersonal violence to survivors. The Women’s Resource Center at KSU aims to serve women in a holistic way by providing life skills, academic, and personal support in other areas other than interpersonal violence, so I think it’s safe to say the name won’t go anywhere.

However, you have made some very valid points as I too know males who have been victims of interpersonal violence. Let the men you come across know they get up to 10 free sessions at the Counseling Center here on campus and they are certainly welcome to set-up an appointment with me as well. Please let me know if there is something I can do to assist these students.

Best,
Shameka

Mrs. Wilson’s response, while well-meaning, does not solve the problem of male displacement. The WRC’s current name would be appropriate if Title IX was not being enforced and the center was truly specialized in women, but the name makes it harder for male victims to find help because they get a clear impression that the center is for women alone.

The failure to reach out to men is a failing of KSU. It is not our job to seek out individual men one by one and do free marketing for KSU, it is to see to it that symmetrical services and promotion are offered so that KSU does not have an excuse to ignore men.

Davis and Lieberman are unaware of who is capable of renaming the center, but Wilson has not responded to my last inquiry to find that decision maker:

Hi Mrs. Wilson,

While I would be happy to point victimized men your way, I still find a name change to be vitally important to creating a more informed and engaged student body.
I understand changing the name of a center can be a complicated process that involves lots of printing and publishing news stories, but the investment would be worth giving all victims the help they need.
There is no rush, of course, and my organization would be willing to help KSU see this through. Do you know who I can contact to petition changing the name of the center?
Thanks,
Sage

That email was sent on March 27th. It is now April 12th, and there is still no reply.

Shameka Wilson said that changing the name of the center was a “battle.”

Who is she fighting, and why would they fight her?

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