Women's Centre becomes South House
Name change reflects centre's evolving mission
Asha Katz - October 26, 2012
The name may be different, but the mission goes forward as strong as ever.
That’s the message as the Dalhousie Women’s Centre, almost a decade old, voted on a name change at a special general meeting (SGM) last week.
With the successful vote, the centre now becomes the South House Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre (South House for short).
Jean Ketterling, administrative and volunteer coordinator at South House, explains that the new name is not about leading a change in the centre’s services, but to reflect changes that have already occurred over the years.
The centre has long prided itself on being a safe space for people of all sexualities and genders, but many assumed its sole focus was women. The new name aims to dispel such myths and encourage all students to use the space and resources available to them, particularly as it’s a student levy-funded organisation.
At the SGM, one board member also noted that the word ‘house’ was also a better fit, noting how the organisation offers students a place to study, a fully stocked kitchen and free coffee, a library of literature and a community garden.
Holding tight to core values
The discussion of a name change has been on going at the board level for two years. Calling the SGM was the final step in a long conversation with the community and those officially involved with South House.
On the topic of potential resistance to the change, Ketterling says, “We were, and are, prepared for any negative reactions. The ‘women’s centre’ is a well-established political form so we expected some people in the community to perhaps question the name change.”
All those involved with South House’s rebranding are conscious of the need to recognize the organization’s foundation as a women’s centre, and to continue to use the values of a women’s centre in approaching all gender, sex, or sexuality related issues.
Connecting with community
Though the decision has just been made, it’s already achieving some of its goals.
“I think it’s great because it describes more of what the centre is actually about,” says second-year Dal student Chelsea Crowell, when informed of the name change. “The old name might have been intimidating or unwelcoming to men, so I think it’s a good move for a really important group on campus.”
Ketterling reports that all the responses so far have all been overwhelmingly positive and the community seems excited about the upcoming rebranding.
The team of staff, volunteers, and board members at South House will be working over the next few months to rebrand the organization and spread the word around campus. A launch party in celebration of the new name is planned for the start of the winter semester.
As always, students and community members are welcomed and encouraged to volunteer at South House and get involved with the projects that are taking place there.