The Margaret Cheney Room celebrated its reopening final month after vital updates and transforming during the last a number of months. The celebration was led by Lauryn McNair, assistant dean of LBGTQ+, Girls and Gender Companies, and attended by MIT Chancellor Melissa Nobles, Provost Cynthia Barnhart, and quite a few college students, workers, and alumni.
In 1884, MIT based the Margaret Cheney Reading Room as an area for ladies on campus to collect. The room was named after Margaret Swan Cheney, a member of the Class of 1882 who tragically died that yr after a short sickness. Cheney had been a faithful scholar of Ellen Swallow Richards, who was each the primary girl to graduate from MIT, in 1873, and the Institute’s first feminine teacher.
Since its founding, the Cheney Room has moved and adjusted with the Institute, touchdown on the third flooring of Constructing 3 after MIT’s transfer to Cambridge in 1916. The Cheney Room subsequently developed because the wants of girls on the Institute developed. At this time, it’s a space where women-identifying community members gather to calm down, examine, join, and construct connections. The Association of MIT Alumnae celebrates fiftieth reunions within the Cheney Room, the place returning alumnae obtain commemorative cardinal-and-gray scarves to decorate MIT’s conventional cardinal blazers.
The complete house has been repainted in hotter colours, complemented by new furnishings and fixtures. A former locker space was transformed right into a lounge that features a lactation/wellness room, Zoom room, convention room, and an expanded and up to date kitchen/pantry space. Colourful paintings created by ladies and non-binary artists adorns the partitions.
“As chancellor, I speak loads about the entire scholar — the schooling college students get inside and out of doors of the classroom. It’s essential to present weight to the entire scholar expertise,” says Nobles. “There are components of ourselves we could wish to discover in a secure, quiet place, and the Cheney Room is the proper house for that. I plan to cease by typically and say hey.”
Barnhart provides, “The room is wonderful, and it’ll present a spot the place we are able to come collectively, be taught from one another, and work collectively. It is a very welcoming surroundings and I hope everybody takes time to go to the room and benefit from the house.”
Isabella Salinas, a senior in organic engineering, says, “The Cheney Room actually has been there for me at any time when and for no matter I wanted it to be. Once I first got here by, I instantly felt at dwelling and secure inside an inclusive female-identifying house. Whether or not I come by to review, make a fast meal, chat with pals, or take a nap, the Cheney Room has actually been a house to me proper in the course of the infinite on campus. When there was a time in my life that I used to be struggling, even when nobody was within the Cheney Room, I felt the immense assist of the opposite ladies who had used the room previously and I felt like I may actually calm down and be myself.”
“It was an excellent place to take a seat there in between lessons, play the piano, lie down, or examine quietly. To this present day, I feel [the] Cheney Room is without doubt one of the islands of refuge for ladies at MIT who’re below strain — and an excellent place to make pals,” says Aviva Brecher ’68, who was an undergraduate when solely 5 % of MIT college students have been ladies. “The Cheney Room was actually a refuge for ladies college students in these days, the place I met and befriended ladies college students from all colleges and exchanged helpful recommendation or supplied ethical assist.”
The house additionally has plans to host enhanced programming, which is within the technique of being developed. In response to Lauryn McNair, “Along with being an area of quiet, calm, and rest for women-identifying college students, there are a selection of books obtainable to borrow, and we are going to host lunch-and-learn applications for everybody within the coming months. The room is gender nuanced and brings a ladies’s middle to assist the intersectional identities of girls and the nuanced experiences of gender.”
Often known as WXGS, MIT’s Girls and Gender Companies helps all undergraduate, graduate, and postdoc ladies by scholar membership applications, workshops, schooling, and advocacy. For instance, WXGS applications for Girls’s Historical past Month final March included a workshop about creating extra inclusive women-oriented areas, an artwork evening centered on portray, and a screening of Vietnamese-British filmmaker Marion Hill’s “Ma Belle, My Magnificence,” which was co-sponsored by the Program in Women and Gender Studies.
“The Cheney Room is a superb campus useful resource. We’re delighted by the assist and encouragement of stakeholders throughout MIT as we work to proceed to make this wonderful house even higher,” says Gustavo Burkett, senior affiliate dean for range and group involvement.
“We’re working with the Alumni Association to create an artwork sequence that includes notable alumnae all through MIT historical past,” Burkett provides. “A few of the paintings might be chosen by present MIT college students.”
“The Division of Scholar Life is proud to contribute to the Cheney Room’s renewal,” says Suzy Nelson, vice chancellor and dean for scholar life. “Renewal of this house and updates to its programming are key to rising Girls and Gender Companies now and sooner or later.”
Go to the Cheney Room web site for extra information about WXGS and upcoming programs.