An inside look at the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women

Are you looking for candy, condoms or camaraderie on campus? Look no further than the Flora Stone Mather (FSM) Center for Women. The FSM Center for Women, now in its 15th year, opened in 2003 with the help of a $1 million endowment started by the alumnae of the Class of 1956.

Those visiting the FSM Center for Women are often greeted by a crowd of students who flock there between classes for a quiet study space, a cup of coffee or a handful of candy.

“Having students in our space is not only how we get to know you, but how we can better serve as a resource,” said Dr. Lisa Nielson, Director of the FSM Center for Women. “[Everyone here] has a great time working together and like to share that with everyone.”

The cornerstones of the FSM Center for Women are intersectionality, inclusion, gender equity, diversity and open dialogue, labeling it as a safe space for all members of the Case Western Reserve University community. This year, the Center hopes to focus on fostering dialogue by listening to members of the campus community through various partnerships with other members of the greater Cleveland community.

In addition to collaborations with other campus organizations such as the Social Justice Institute, the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning and the LGBT Center, the FSM Center for Women is exploring partnerships with outside community organizations like the YMCA. This year, the Center is piloting a series of conversations called “Let’s Talk About…” as a part of a collaboration with Planned Parenthood.

The FSM Center for Women is also home to a representative from the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those affected by rape, sexual violence or human trafficking.

The FSM Center for Women’s largest organization is the Women in Science and Engineering Roundtable (WISER). With over 200 undergraduate and graduate student members, WISER is one of the largest student groups on campus. In addition to hosting various events throughout the year, WISER is known for its mentoring program and community outreach events.

Other campus organizations affiliated with the Center include the Sexual Assault and Violence Educators, the Feminist Collective Club and PERIOD, a new campus organization dedicated to destigmatizing menstruation and providing free menstrual products to the community.

New to the Center this year is Men and Masculinity. The student-run group plans to partner with the FSM Center for Women and CWRU Greek Life to host a series of dialogues dedicated to the topic of masculinity and its role in different groups and contexts.

Next week, the FSM Center for Women will host its annual SEXPO, a celebratory event aimed at reducing stigma surrounding sex. SEXPO, now in its third year, is designed to educate students about sex, intimacy, sex positivity and healthy relationships. SEXPO features members of various campus organizations as well as off-campus representatives from Planned Parenthood and other organizations.

Additionally, in October, the FSM Center for Women is teaming up with LGBT Center to host a multilingual poetry reading and celebration for the famed Chicana activist Gloria Anzaldua. Later that month, WISER is teaming up with La Alianza for a discussion panel about Latina engineers.

The FSM Center for Women said that students wishing to get involved are encouraged to join one of its affiliated groups, stop by the office for a visit or attend a program hosted by the center.