The Women’s Services staff held an open house Thursday, Sept. 18, to kick off their upcoming events. They emphasized two campaigns — Voices of Courage and Recapturing Beauty — while recruiting new volunteers to help with events.
BYU Women’s Services and Resources provides confidential consultations where staff address perfectionism, sexual assault, eating disorders, relationship problems and abuse.
McKenzie Bray, a freshman from Georgia, mentioned that it was tough for her to be far from home but that Women’s Services gave her comfort. “It’s a good support group,” she said.
Women’s Services also addresses college transitions and difficult changes for new students.
“The past couple weeks it hasn’t been easy with my roommates,” said an anonymous BYU student. “We disagree on how to do things. Everyone has different ideas.”
She said it was nice to confide in Women’s Services on campus to help her through those frustrating situations.
“I definitely think it’s a good place to come if I want to talk,” she said.
LaNae Valentine, Women’s Services director, said women felt they were not given social support in their decisions. These decisions include balancing family life with gaining an education, staying healthy amidst stress and trying to identify with perceived social and cultural norms.
Women’s Services focus group participants felt a stigma attached to seeking professional help to cope with their struggles.
“I know that students do struggle with these issues and experience these challenges,” Valentine said. “We want them to know that Women’s Services and Resources is a place where they can come and talk and get help.”
Senior Kelsey Allan, from Tennessee, said she wished she would have known about Women’s Services earlier.
“Since I got involved, I have found a network of people that I can go to if I ever get in trouble,” Allan said.
Allan previously interned as a Women’s Services blogger and now works in the office. “Working in the office is great, because I’ve got a bunch of women who support me in pretty much anything,” Allan said.
Bray also volunteers for Women’s Services. She said she looks forward to the Voices of Courage 5K coming up in November. The annual 5K promotes domestic violence and abuse prevention. Valentine said about 600 students participated last year.
“They not only ran but were educated about what (they) can do to reduce the amount of violence in our culture,” Valentine said.
Women’s Services and Resources showcased a variety of events at the open house, including biweekly yoga classes, nutritional consultations and the Fed Up With Food mentoring group to combat eating disorders. About 15–20 students attend the Fed Up With Food support group each semester.
Perhaps the most popular event is the 10-day Beauty Challenge. Senior Kelsey Allan said it is one of her favorite events. “It boosts confidence, and it’s a really easy thing to do. … It’s something everyone needs,” Allan said.
The Recapturing Beauty campaign encourages self-acceptance and recognition of genuine beauty.
Women’s Service and Resources produces a blog solely devoted to this campaign that includes links to resources and reading material on many body image topics. Resources can be found at recapturingbeauty.byu.edu.
“I feel like they (the Women’s Services staff) are really receptive to people and really there to help us,” said Rachel Mecham, a freshman from Washington.
Mecham said she had not heard about women’s services at any other universities.
“I think it’s really unique and special to BYU,” Mecham said.
Women on campus may call or visit the Women’s Services and Resources office, located in Room 3326 of the Wilkinson Center, to schedule consultations or obtain more information.
Allan said Women’s Services is about getting women the resources they need to succeed.
“I think that’s … something society is still working on,” Allan said.