Women’s Center promotes community involvement

Declan Hoffman, Staff Writer

As part of the university-funded outreach and support agency, the UND Women’s Center held their first “Meet, Eat and Learn” event of the season. They hosted the North Dakota Women’s Network (NDWN) Wednesday at the Memorial Union’s loading dock.

Speaker Laurie Fried, a social work graduate student at UND, who is currently interning with NDWN, gave an informational presentation on the voting process. Specific details about the process were given to staff, students and all others in attendance over a slice of free pizza and chips.

The discussion opened up afterward for questions and then continued with an interactive conversation with members of both NDWN and the Women’s Center to discuss any related topics. The mood was light, going along with the original objective of Meet, Eat and Learn.

We provide support, education and advocacy so that a student’s experience on campus is the best that it can be

— Kay Mendick

“It’s in a setting that isn’t a classroom or lecture-based. It’s very interactive … we know that our presenters bring a lot of information on a wide variety of topics so I’m hoping there just continues to be a dialogue,” Kay Mendick, Women’s Center Director, said.

Hosting a range of events across campus, including the N.D. Clothesline Project, Take Back the Night Rally, Love Your Body Week and various multicultural events, the Women’s Center serves more than just women.

“We provide support, education and advocacy so that a student’s experience on campus is the best that it can be,” Mendick said. “We know that things can happen that can hinder a student’s ability to study and go after those passions that brought them here so we are the support bridge that will provide them the resources they need.”

The Women’s Center can be found actively reaching out to the student body in classrooms, residence halls, greek life and committees to form relationships with people from the bottom up.

The hope is that those in need of assistance are able to recognize the Women’s Center as one of their options for help, regardless of who they are, Mendick explained.

“If a student is faced with an issue and they just don’t know what to do or even what to name it or if they’re having difficulty in class or feel marginalized in some way, oftentimes what’s important are those initial conversations,” Mendick said. “Our focus is completely on the welfare of our students–male, female or however people identify.”

Through the work of NDWM, women across North Dakota have gained the knowledge and information they need to feel empowered to become leaders in their local communities and rally for equal-rights legislation, as explained in a promotional video during Freid’s presentation.

NDWM acts very much as a networking agency to find women the connections they need to effectively fight any political, social or economic challenges they feel they might face or are marginalized within.

“Having one voice in North Dakota to advocate for women’s issues is one of the biggest challenges women face … NDWM is able to provide that type of support and unification,” Freid said.

For those in attendance, the response was almost entirely synonymous. Most came with little knowledge of either the on-campus women’s organization or NDWN, but left with a much better understanding of the groups and their importance on campus and in the state.

Future events sponsored by the Women’s Center include a phone bank at Christus Rex today at 3 p.m., as part of the group’s weekly meeting, after which a group will travel to the Allerus center for early voting.

Philippine Night is also going to be held Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

NDWN will be hosting their “Women Empowered” (WE) Rise event March 13 in Bismark, N.D. The event provides attendees a chance to engage in a “behind-the-scenes” conversation with local lawmakers and a focused talk on how to most effectively organize or take part in lobbying.

“It’s important to get the word out about and the North Dakota Women’s Network because it empowers students on campus to be part of that voice,” said Freid. “Since the North Dakota Women’s Network is so small, I hope to create awareness about the organization and potentially gain some new members.”


Declan Hoffman is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]