Today, the Remley Women’s Center is one of Westminster’s theme houses, offering a focused learning and residential experience for selected students. Read on for a history of the Remley Center. Featured in photo above, 2013-14 Remley Women’s Center interns – Victoria Hart, Samantha Stuppy, Guiomar Sapi, Shane Kincaid, and Rachel Ewalt – at the 2014 Women’s Conference.
During the mid-1990’s, a group of female Westminster students – primarily English majors – began gathering regularly to talk about what it meant to be a woman at Westminster College. And, perhaps, to grouse about gender issues they balked at here and there. Known first as the “Grumpy Girls’ Club,” they soon renamed themselves “The Bluestockings” in honor of the 18th-century women’s intellectual and social society—and in honor of their faculty sponsor, Dr. Rebecca Shapiro (who taught 18th-century British literature). This group was more than happy to point out issues of gender inequity on campus, and they began promoting the idea of a Women’s Studies program and a house of their own.
So when 1999 came around and we were celebrating 20 years of women at Westminster, it seemed only appropriate to act on their wishes. Although the year-long celebration was organized by Dr. Carolyn Perry, it was really Dr. Rebecca Shapiro and Dr. Judy Schaneman who took the lead on drawing attention to our need for a women’s center on campus. Legend has it that a few choice words from Dr. Perry persuaded the Space Allocation Committee to give up a campus house to create the first space for these women, but it was actually the kindness and support of Dean Bob Seelinger that paved the way. The house may have been old and dilapidated (located where the freshman parking lot now stands), but the women were very proud to open the first-ever Women’s Resource Center on campus in the spring of 2000. They named it in honor of Dr. Audrey Remley for her outstanding efforts to welcome the first women on campus in 1979, as well as for her incredible leadership at Westminster as one of the few female faculty throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. The house opened in the fall of 2000 with two interns, Shawna Davis and Sarah Morrell Klinger, and it was dedicated during Alumni Weekend in 2001. Many gatherings took place in that first house, from poetry readings to educational sessions on women’s health to self-defense classes.
In 2004, the Remley Center moved to 710 Westminster Avenue. The women continued to meet regularly and expand their programming. Once Dr. Shapiro left the College in 2003, they were advised by Dr. Therese Miller (2003-2004), Dr. Judy Schaneman (2004-2006), and Dr. Seulky McInneshin (2006-2008).
In the spring of 2008, Dr. McInneshin took up the charge to move the Remley Center to a house more centrally located on campus, and she had her eye on 329 W. 7th Street. Once again, representatives met with the Space Allocation Committee, which quickly agreed that the house—which had been used as a fraternity overflow house—would be much better kept by a group of women. Therefore, the current Remley Women’s Resource Center opened during the summer of 2008, under the leadership of Dr. Sue Serota. The interns have continued their varied programming, which includes volunteer work with CARD-V, several “Lunch ‘n Learns” focused on gender issues, Take-Back-the-Night, productions of The Vagina Monologues, and, most recently, co-hosting the annual Women’s Conference.