|More than 150 people attended the Lane Hall dedication ceremonies Oct. 20. Photos by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services|
IRWG Director Abigail Stewart welcomed President Lee C. Bollinger, Provost Nancy Cantor and several Regents, who were among the crowd of more than 150 people gathered outside the building at the corner of State and Washington streets. The festivities continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
|Regents David Brandon (left) and Kathy White were on hand to cut the ribbon officially opening Lane Hall. An archway of balloons above the entry provided a momentary distraction.|
When womens studies was established here almost 30 years ago, feminist scholars with big dreams occupied a small room, said Stewart, who recently was named to the Agnes Inglis Collegiate Professorship of Psychology. We were glad to have that room, but it cramped our style. Now we have a beautiful building with a rich and special history, right in the middle of campus and town. This place makes a statement.
Sidonie Smith, director of the Womens Studies Program and professor of English and of womens studies, observed that the first course in womens studies was offered to a reluctant and suspicious academic community. Since then, womens studies has forged collaborations with scholars from a wide range of disciplines, and Lane Hall has already become a center of activity for scholars from around the university.
Later that afternoon at Rackham Auditorium, Provost Nancy Cantor noted that the days celebration provided a chance to reflect on the many ways in which womens lived experience differs from that of men. She also welcomed the festivities as an opportunity to acknowledge how womens studies and IRWG, with their emphasis on collaboration across scholarly disciplines, demonstrate what is absolutely the best about this institution.
Cole reaffirmed Woolfs view about the importance of space for women to think, write and create. Now IRWG and womens studies have not a room but a building of their own, she said. And its not theirs alone, but for all womenfolk.
In addition to celebrating how far women have come, Cole urged the audience to reflect on what is lost to our society, our culture, our world, when women are denied a place of our own. And she issued a challenge that earned a standing ovation from the audience:
Let Lane Hall serve as a beacon of ongoing change where women of all backgrounds and beliefs feel at home, a shelter from the storm of patriarchy in the academy and in the world at large, a place that welcomes the diversity of women, a place where we can make a contribution to that day when difference doesnt make any more difference.