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Women's Resource Center celebrates 15th birthday

By Devin Glick     9/22/11 7:00pm

The Rice Women's Resource Center celebrated its 15th birthday this past Friday with its original founder, Mona Hicks. There were about 70 party-goers present to celebrate the anniversary.

In 1995, Mona Hicks launched the RWRC while working at her first job at Rice University as the Director of Student Activities.

"The beautiful thing about Rice is its student government and involvement," Hicks said. "I believe in listening, in justice, and students supporting what they help to create."

Student leadership from the Women's Interest Network and the Graduate Women's Interest Network, the precursors to the current RWRC, gave her a three-page proposal to create this resource on campus. Hicks then worked long hours with students until the RWRC had its grand opening on Feb. 9, 1996. She continued to work with the resource center as its staff supervisor during its initial years.

The RWRC was created to give students the opportunity to share their voice and give people the opportunity to feel empowered, Hicks said.

The RWRC Student Co-Director Rachael Petersen spoke about the future of the resource center, now in its new location near the entrance to the Brown Garden in the Ley Student Center.

The RWRC plans to focus more on professional development and being a woman in the workforce as well as include more men and people who don't self-identify as feminists, Petersen said. The RWRC is also hoping to build a united front against sexual assault by strengthening relations with Student Judicial Programs, Rice University Police Department, the Wellness Center and the Counseling Center.

"[RWRC] is still relevant," Petersen, a McMurtry College senior, said. "We're still working for full acceptance and equality."

Although Hicks, who is currently the Assistant Vice President for Student Life at the University of North Texas, is not directly involved with the RWRC anymore, she is extremely proud with what the RWRC has done.

A volunteer at the resource center, Hannah Thalenberg, thinks that the RWRC is always putting on great events.

"It's a place for safe, open discussion" Thalenberg, a McMurtry senior, said. "People are the [RWRC's] biggest asset."

After the speeches were over, students lit candles on cupcakes and members of the Phils sang a rendition of "Happy Birthday." Before and after the ceremony, KTRU DJ Joelle Zigman provided music from an all-female playlist.

The RWRC's mission is to increase awareness of issues facing women and provide a support network and safe space. The organization does this through educational programs and social activities. One of their most popular events of the year, "Consent Is Sexy" Week, takes place the week before Night of Decadence and is comprised of a slew of events that emphasize the importance of sexual consent.

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