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July 20, 2005

What women want


The idea came by chance to Agraja Sharma, a rising College fourth-year. While filing ledgers for her job at ORCSA, her eye fell upon an account that “wasn’t very active”: A Woman’s Guide to the University of Chicago, a compilation of resources for female students. Flipping through the publication, last released in 2000, Sharma decided to resuscitate the guide.

“I e-mailed all the girls I knew,” said Sharma, including Facebook friends and women who belonged to female-oriented Registered Student Organizations (RSO), like Sex Education Activists and Women and Youth Supporting Each Other. At spring quarter’s end, she assigned volunteers to the 17 chapters from the old guide, which covered issues such as substance abuse, nutrition and exercise, and sexual harassment. Sharma also added new chapters on minority women and women in academics. The group wants to “personalize [the guide] to the University of Chicago,” said Sharma, who found the old guide too general. Another goal, said Raedy Ping, a graduate student in psychology and one of the group’s five administrators, is to make the guide “more applicable to older students” than Chicago Life. They plan to update the Web site (wguide.uchicago.edu), which, Sharma said, will be revised frequently in the future, whereas a paper version of the guide—the first is due out this fall—will come out every two years.

Sharma hopes the revived guide will “build a platform for women’s issues,” providing both information and the opportunity to network with other women and related RSOs. The group is planning to become an RSO, throw a launch party in the fall featuring other female-oriented organizations, hold monthly brown-bag lunches with both students and faculty on women’s issues, and advertise both the guide and the Web site. For now, however, Sharma is excited that the woman’s guide has prompted other campus resources, like the Student Care Center, which had outdated links on its Web site, to update their information. “I can’t believe,” Sharma said, “we’re already making a difference on campus.”

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Psychology grad student Raedy Ping and College fourth-years Agraja Sharma (with 2000 Women's Guide) and Jessica Lent.

Posted by abraverman at July 20, 2005


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