The Women's Center, Barnard College, pamphlet, 1971, page 3

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          Introducing the Center 

The Barnard Women's Cen-
ter is a new program for an
old need: the dignity, au-
tonomy, and equality of
women. More than a place,
more than a project, it sym-
bolizes the way in which a
college may gather its ener-
gies on behalf of women. It
is Barnard's way of reaffirm-
ing its commitment to educating women to take their
place in the world, the very premise on which the Col-
lege was founded.

For too long society has held to be true a number of
myths about women, some of them destructive myths.
Especially destructive to colleges, particularly women's
colleges, was the notion that women were less rational
than men, less capable than men, so that educating
women was less useful than educating men.

Replacing myth with fact is, of course, the responsi-
bility of everyone. What the Women's Center hopes to
contribute is, first, a dialogue about the problems, the
place, and the potential of women in contemporary life;
second, new bonds between a college and women away
from college; and third, fresh insight for undergradu-
ates about what it means to be a woman in modern
America.

The Center will draw upon Barnard faculty, which
now teaches perhaps the most versatile group of
Women's Studies courses in the nation; upon Columbia
University and its vast resources; upon New York,
where so many women of diverse talents and skills
live; upon the Barnard alumnae.

When we think of our plans, we ask ourselves if
they are broad enough to interest many women; if
they will help create a real body of knowledge about
women; if they will free women to use their education
as fully as possible; if they will give undergraduates
something serious and substantial. Why not, we go on
to ask ourselves, have a permanent series of seminars
on Women and Society? Why not systematically bring
back women of varied experience, alumnae and others,
to talk to undergraduates? Why not have a committee
of Barnard alumnae who are lawyers to explore cases
of discrimination?

How will we finance our activities? It seems most
fitting that the income from the bequest of Helen
Rogers Reid '03, a former Board Chairman and life-
long crusader for women's rights, will be used to launch
the first programs of the Center.

Many people - men and women - have been a part
of the genesis of the Women's Center. It is impossible
to generalize about them, but if we have all felt some
common emotions, surely they include anger (or at
the very least discontent), because of the past; eager-
ness, because of the possibility of changing the past;
and enormous excitement, because of what a college
community might do.

In this brochure are a series of brief remarks about
men, women, and society; about women and Barnard;
about the Barnard Women's Center. The comments
touch on the necessity for Women's Studies; Bamard's
research collection; women, especially Barnard women,
and the academic world; on women and work; and the
cultural context into which the Center fits. I hope they
will show what the Center is, why it came into being,
and what it may become: a
place of study, a place for
students, and a place where
thought and action nurture
each other.

Catharine R. Stimpson
Chairman

Executive Committee
Barnard Women's Center

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