For the first time since 1884, the YWCA of the University of Illinois is not located on campus.
When I read that sentence, I gulp a little. It’s shocking. We WHAT, now? Why?
The short answer is this: we have so much to offer this community, and we can’t get it done fr
om just one corner.
There are other reasons, of course: we serve not only the U of I community, but Parkland College and the larger community as well. Being tucked away on campus, many people don’t know that we exist--including the campus community. That close association with the U of I leads many to believe that we are part of the University (we’re not), or are funded by it (not that either). We love the campus community--our ties with the U of I are tight.
Our YW, like so many YW’s across the country, started in response to a need that was not being met: women scholars’ need for housing and support services when the U of I opened its doors to women. We were the first residence hall for women on campus--Coble Hall, anyone? (Yes, really, that was our first location.) The University has changed a lot since then, and we have changed with it.
Our ties with Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding communities have also changed over time. Sometimes we have been more engaged, other times less so. We’ve facilitated anti-racism circles, fought for survivors of sexual abuse, and ensured that low-income women have necessary health care. As we look around now, we feel strongly that the best use of our time and energy is here, in town.
So, we are moving out and moving forward with our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, using what we have learned and done on campus to bring positive change and social justice to the greater community.
Find us at 2403 W Springfield Ave P1, Champaign, IL 61821. (Look for the BIG ORANGE SIGNS! 😁)
Thank you for being with us for so long--and thank you for continuing to walk forward with us--we know that you, like us, will do this work until the world sees women, girls, and people of color the way we do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.