In the recent events of vandalizing the Wells College Women’s Resource Center, I’ve been brought to think about how crucial it is to make this safe space safe again. The WRC was founded in 2005 when Wells College transitioned to co-education. This space is not only a resource for those who need it, but also is one of the only places on campus that serves as the “old Wells.” About a month ago, somebody spray-painted male genitalia throughout the WRC a smiley face on a faceless figure that said “sisterhood,” on a mural that was created when Wells went co-ed in 2005. While this seems harmless, whoever did this came into our safe space and disrespected women’s bodies as well as making women smile, making the safe space feel not so safe anymore.
Why is the WRC important? Having this space reminds me that I am valid. It reminds me that I have support in the times where I feel alone. It brings me the solidarity I need to continue to move past this body which has been violated. It gives me the strength to grow as a person. It gives me the support system I need in providing a safe space in a multiplicity of ways; in both a physical space, as well as non-physical. It makes me feel comfortable in a society that I haven’t always felt comfortable in. So when this space gets vandalized, so does the safety and comfort that the space provides for women, allies, and the Wells community. Now we’re left with this: What does this space really mean? How do we reclaim a safe space? How do we make a space that is no longer safe, safe again?
Hannah Flansburg ‘21, says, “Having the WRC be open and available and supportive to women and other people is very important to me. The position that the WRC is in right now is ultimately devastating to Wells College students. Having a resource that acts as a safe space and guidance in several areas being barely usable right now is an urgent problem on campus. Having become a run-down space as well as having been vandalized, the WRC is in dire need of revamping and reclaiming.”
Amanda Springer ‘19, the president of the WRC says, “A safe space is where myself and others can go and just be… be content, be sad, be happy. This is a place where someone can feel any emotion and suffer from no judgment and be able to talk and have a confidential support system. In reclaiming the safe space, the steps that I would take would be to radicalize it. Safe spaces aren’t in the society that we have today, and no place is actually safe. In order to create a safe space, there needs to be ownership of that space that needs to be owned with sympathy, empathy, and trust. Everything that is said is acknowledged and accepted.”
Jordan Stoops, ‘20 says, “A safe space is just a space that I know where I’m not going to be judged and it’s confidential and has the support of other people. In reclaiming the safe space, I think it’s about physically reclaiming the space. We are making it known that it is our space and we’re letting everyone know that what is happening to our space is not okay and we’re taking ownership.”
It is going to take so much work to get the space back to where we need it to be. How can you help? Spread the word, if something doesn’t seem right, say something, don’t back down. The space has been taken from us, but we’re getting it back piece by piece… and we’re not backing down until the space has become ours again completely and then some.