Women*s Student Services Offers an Inclusive Community for MSU Students

March 3, 2022

Women*s Student Services (W*SS) was introduced to the Michigan State University community in the summer of 2019. Due to a growing need for an organization on campus after the closure of the MSU Women’s Resource Center several years prior, W*SS was established within the Division of Student Affairs and Services.  Through programs, activities, social events and educational workshops, W*SS has grown at a rapid pace.     

The W*SS staff has been committed to engaging in conversations about feminism, working with other student services and supporting all students.  Through these commitments to students and various organizations on campus, the W*SS team strives to provide information, support or guidance that may be useful to MSU students creating a welcoming community. Hierarchy, oppressive power and privilege are all issues that W*SS strives to minimize, and with the promotion of unrestricted involvement of women and all students facing gender-based oppression, W*SS has been able to offer students an opportunity to make a change. 

W*SS Director Heather Shea, Ph.D., is clear that W*SS is “a resource office that focuses on students,” all while being the change that “advocates for gender equity” on MSU’s campus and beyond. Many organizations across MSU’s campus serve all who are associated with MSU.  W*SS is geared toward students; the students are the ones that need the support. In order to accommodate the students, W*SS recently relocated to suite 14 in the lower level of the Student Services Building. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, they understand that it may not be feasible for many students to visit the office, so they continue to offer virtual meetings using ZOOM.   

An example of how W*SS has been able to offer guidance to those who identify as women across MSU’s campus is through programs, such as StartSmart and Women*s Initiative for Leadership Development, also known as WILD. WILD is an annual conference and planning committee run by students and advised by W*SS staff. Students are able to hone their leadership and conference planning skills with WILD.  

StartSmart is a salary negotiation workshop that helps to ensure that all MSU students are able to negotiate a fair salary upon graduation. According to AAUW, “though women now outpace men in higher education, women also hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the United States. Moreover, only about 7% of women attempt to negotiate for a higher salary in their first job, compared to 57% of men.” The goal with this workshop is to help close the gender pay gap by 2030.

WILD is another avenue that W*SS uses to help prepare MSU students to be advocates of social change on campus. This conference is typically held once a year and all Spartans are encouraged to attend.  

W*SS also works toward an inclusive community in East Lansing through LUNAFEST – the world's very first all-women traveling film festival. In March 2021, W*SS was able to host the event virtually.  

While MSU Women*s Student Services implements programs, advocates for gender equity, promotes research and scholarship and provides resources to all MSU students through its work to build a community of inclusiveness without the negative effects of hierarchy and oppressive power, the office has several events planned for Women’s History Month. Learn more about these events from W*SS.

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