AFTER a year of hemming and hawing on undergraduate women's issues, Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson last week finally endorsed the concept of a women's center on campus. It was an important symbolic move. But it will be a worthless one unless Wilson acts quickly to back up her rhetoric with the will and the resources needed to make a women's center a reality.
The case for a women's center is obvious to anyone who has observed the cramped quarters in Agassiz House where undergraduate women's groups meet. A center would be a place for all undergraduates and graduate students to discuss women's and gender issues and a location for centralized resources for women. Such centers contribute to student life at all other Ivy League schools and many state schools.
Last year, Wilson rebuffed student demands for a women's center with the excuse that she needed time to get acquainted with her new community before backing any major projects. Now she says the idea has "captured her imagination"--although she says it's "unwise to try to have a blueprint so soon."
Well, if Wilson wants to hold off on the specific plans, she can still gather the necessary support for the center that would make those plans a mere formality.
.Wilson should sit down with Radcliffe Trustees at the next opportunity and begin to look for money to fund a center.
.If Wilson does not want to pay for a center out of Radcliffe's already strained budget, she should demand that Harvard pay. After all, women are Harvard students, and the University is responsible for providing extracurricular opportunities and support to its students.
.She should provide limited funds now to support events to publicize student need for a women's center and to meet that need until a more permanent center is established.
.She should convene a committee, with students, staff and faculty, to begin discussing formal plans for the women's center.
We hope Wilson's pursuit of a women's center goes down in history books like the tortoise's race in fairy tales: A slow start at the outset, a solid effort throughout and a lasting victory in the end.