Club shifts focus to social justice

By Karen Liu, Staff Writer

The Young Women’s Christian Association came to campus in 1884, acting as a housing facility for the female students on campus.


Andrea Rundell, the executive director of the YWCA at the University, said that its original mission was to make sure young women had an adequate support system when they were far away from home.


While the YWCA started as a religious group, it has evolved into an organization that aims to help women of every race, gender identity, sexual orientation and religious affiliation; it has become an organization fighting for social justice.


“Over time, this organization has sort of just looked around and said: ‘what we’re gonna do is advocate for people, not just providing a shelter,’” Rundell said. “Our mission now is eliminating racism and empowering women, promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”


As one of five chapters located on college campuses, the University’s YWCA organizes different events and programs for young women.


The Women in Leadership program is a year-long internship that offers professional development training, chances to do group consulting work with local nonprofits organizations and opportunities to build relationships with professional women in the community.


YWCA also works with the Women’s Resource Center in hosting “Hot Topics Dialogues” — a program aimed at creating public forums for students to freely discuss timely issues and exchange ideas on social justice.


The next Hot Topic event will take place on Oct. 24. The topic is called “Beyond Trump: Race, Gender and the Election,” which will discuss the upcoming election, with an emphasis on issues of power and oppression.


Another upcoming project is the community reading of the book “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros. The reading will take place on Oct. 26 at the Florida Avenue Residence Hall library.


Ke’Ana Lanpkins, the YWCA read intern, said that the reading not only heightens students’ awareness of the presence of YWCA, but also encourages dialogue connecting topics related to students’ lives.


As part of the community reading program, the YWCA will also be hosting an open mic night on the second floor of Ikenberry Commons, next to The Caffeinator, centering around the main topics discussed in the book: intersectional identities, gender roles, sexuality and dreams.


When asked what is the most important message that the YMCA is hoping to get across to the students, Lanpkins said:” We’re here for the students.”