Brigham Young University wishes to keep their decision to close the Women's Research Institute quiet, but I intend to make an obnoxious amount of noise. The dean of Family Home and Social Science claims that other institutions on campus provide enough support for women. I strongly disagree. The WRI, instituted in 1978, conducts research that institutions around the world use: data on pornography, drug trafficking, eating disorders and other issues relating to women. Brigham Young University's decision to shut down the WRI places the church in a publicly precarious position as well as leaves many students ignorant about the importance of women’s issues. I'm tired of "feminism" being a four letter word on this campus, and this institution works directly against such bigotry and ignorance. In protest of this decision, I ask you, reader, to reply to newspaper articles published by the Salt Lake Tribune and to sign the petition below.
I would like to share an experience which soberly reminds me of the past oppression of women and subsequently inspires me to fight against such prejudice.My current position in society as a woman seems distant from the narrator’s in A Room of One’s Own. But Roaming around Oxford’s campus the Gothic architecture of Magdalene College’s displayed its archaic origin and subsequently the constant flow of money required to construct the beautiful building. Yet, the brilliant buildings, libraries, technology and blooming grounds were only available to men during Virginia Woolf’s time. I walked further from campus searching for a place where women could congregate during the early twentieth century. I set my sights on a lesser known women’s college: Somerville. Unable to direct myself around the large campus I sought help from an Oxford student who located the college on a map. He explained that all women’s colleges required a lengthy trek outside of central campus and honestly recommend skipping the visit to a women’s college. Looking back, I understand why the student attempted to dissuade me from visiting comparatively uninteresting women’s college.
The juxtaposition of Somerville’s atmosphere, architecture and location to Magdalene College personally revealed to me the alienation women felt during the early twentieth century. Somerville resided far from central campus and so I quickly walked down streets distancing myself from the noise of Magdalene College and its prestigious aura. Oxford built Somerville during the late nineteenth century and the only land available was located far from campus. Like the journey of Virginia Woolf’s character to Fernham in A Room of One's Own, I walked along “a road – I forget its name” the unimportance of the road signified the inferiority of the college itself. (Woolf 13) Finally I arrived at Somerville’s cramped and yellowed office. I asked the stunned office workers if I could walk around the college; Somerville did not receive visitors often. Unlike Magdalene, Somerville’s the courtyard sounded unnaturally quiet. The untidy gardens and flowers coupled with the severe and outdated architecture created an atmosphere of neglect. At this moment the day’s events combined and I understood Woolf’s narrative.
I left Somerville and walked back to campus and visit Christ’s Church Cathedral. I listened to Evensong inside of Christ’s Church in the chapel without producing a baptismal certificate; Virginia Woolf’s narrator listened outside.
So reader, please carefully consider what's at stake with the closing of the WRI - let us avoid creating the atmosphere like Oxbridge at Brigham Young University.