With a busy schedule, the times always changing and needing to keep up with the university’s needs, a university president is very busy. This is where President’s Commissions come in.
The President’s Commission on Women (PCW) has a mission that leads and supports women’s leadership and gender equity as cornerstones of the collegiate experience at SRU. The commission includes 25 voting members including faculty, staff, administration and students. Each group must have a minimum of three representatives.
PCW most recently has passed a new children in the workplace policy. Although this effects more than just women, PCW finds it necessary to still offer support for parents.
The new policy was officially enacted last week, allowing more flexibility with children in the workplace.
Brittany Fleming, associate professor in the strategic communication & media department (SC&M), as well as PCW co-chair, mentioned that with the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic brought on with school closures, the commission was searching for some alternatives to what previously would’ve been resolved by using sick days.
With last semester being the first time the commission was in person in two years, they had to adapt their programming while being online. This included guest speaker series that were able to be held via Zoom.
One specific program speaker included Elise Michaux, a SRU alumna, representative on the Council of Trustees and a winner of one of the Women and Ally of Distinction awards. Lisa Sylvester from WPXI also was included in the program. Together, they spoke about grit and resilience.
This year, coming back from COVID-19, PCW is working hard to bring back the Women and Ally of Distinction Mentoring Dinner, which last happened pre-pandemic. The dinner will be hosted this Tuesday March 29 at 5 p.m. in the Robert M. Smith Student Center (SSC) Ballroom.
The dinner will have awards presented to the various winners, as well as keynote speaker Maria Searcy, who serves as the PA department of education parent involvement-in-education consultant.
Aside from bringing back the dinner, PCW has been working on various different projects. Emily Dolan, assistant professor in the SC&M department, lead a campus climate survey for those who identified as female on campus.
The survey was for students, faculty and staff across campus.
“We really wanted the campuses input on what they wanted us to be doing because we didn’t want to produce programming that no one was going to attend, or start messing with policies that no one really cared about,” Fleming said.
PCW is taking the findings to try and decide what they want to do next. The results are still confidential as they are working through the process.
Rape culture and gender violence are two majors topics that are being pushed as a major initiative to be looked into, as well.
“It’s how we can make an impact and even if we can’t, maybe partnering with other organizations,” said Amber Hamilton, co-chair of PCW and academic advisor and coordinator at the tutorial center.
Another initiative the commission has been discussing since the previous co-chairs is implementing more changing tables across campus, and expanding it past the SSC bathrooms.
With PCW being a part of the President’s Commission, these are conversations and initiatives that are brought up with him, and put into action.
In recent years there has been a positive shift in the relationship between the commissions and the president to be more of an environment to support each other and be receptive to changes.
“All of us are coming to [Behre] with ideas as well as solutions,” Hamilton said. “Which I think has made it more receptive to seeking help and being on our side for certain things.”
SRU hired Chief Diversity Officer Anthony Jones last fall, and he is likely to serve as a liaison between the university president and the various commissions. All of which is an attempt to facilitate more constructive communication among organizations.
PCW has many plans for the future and as they look more into the results of the climate survey conducted last semester, they will be communicating to find initiatives to work on.
The commission is encouraging student’s to get involved and realize that it is not just for faculty and staff. Anyone interested in contributing to or joining PCW is encouraged to email the co-chairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There’s two ways that you can give [to PCW],” Hamilton said. “You can give your money or your time.
“I’m hoping that we, as a commission, can start giving our time more to people.”