Sloss Center core values help students find community


Katlyn Campbell/Iowa State Daily

The Sloss House, home to the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center, recently changed names to the “Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity” effective Jan. 7, 2019.

Victoria Reyna-Rodriguez

The Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity envisions a campus community that works collaboratively to create an environment that supports and promotes gender equity and social justice at Iowa State, according to their website.

The Sloss Center has four core values. The first being to sustain a center that promotes gender equity. Second, to provide intentional and inclusive educational programming to promote gender equity and social justice through a feminist lens. Third, to infuse practices and current research in the fields of feminism, equity and student development into the programming and resources offered. And finally, to maintain and develop internal and external relationships central to the center’s function and impact.

Director of the Sloss Center, Ruxandra Looft, commented on these values.

“Goals one and two really focus on both the house and the space and all the people that work here and has to do with our programming and events and sort of our community facing output […] those are number one and two because those are the most important things to us,” Looft said.

Looft came from an academic background, previously in the department of foreign language and cultures at Iowa State. In her classroom she was teaching and discussing how to arrive with greater gender equity in the world and what that can look like.

Looft’s background not only prepared her, but also motivated her for her work at the Sloss Center. Working at the Sloss Center was an opportunity for Looft to have a similar dialogue to those held in her classroom on a campus wide scale.

“I think what was one of the big draws with this position is that we get to take some of that academic piece and put it to practice with the programming and events we do, the communities we support on campus and just sort of the everyday work we do, which is really exciting to be able to more concretely engage in the process of inclusion and diversity work on campus,” Looft said.

One of the most important values for the Sloss Center is providing people on Iowa State’s campus with the resources and support they need, and introducing feminist dialogue to the community. Along with this feminist dialogue will come new opportunities for equity on Iowa State’s campus to arrise.

Loof said the Sloss Center tries to, “generate more dialogue around issues that touch into gender equity, or just any topic from a feminist lense.”

The Sloss Center takes pride in being a people-focused community. Looft said that many student clubs and organzations come to them for all sorts of reasons. A few of them being to ask for resources, places to hold meetings, or even just advice. All of which the Sloss Center is more than happy to provide. From feminist dialogue presentations to retreat opportunities, the Sloss Center has many events to bring people together and open up conversations in an effort to create and maintain equity as a campus community.

“We’re in the community building industry, help folks find other folks that they feel good around so their experience at ISU is a more positive one,” Looft said.

The Sloss Center recognizes the difficulties that can arise when trying to find your place on a campus as large as Iowa State’s, but also acknowledges that different communities require different resources.

“Our main priority is helping build communities for students,” Looft said. “I think it can often feel overwhelming to come to a large state school and additionally, we know that certain populations on our campus face different challenges.”

One reason it is so important to the Sloss Center to help students — and even staff — on campus find a community is so that people know they are not alone in their experiences and hardships.

“If you’re part of an underrepresented group on campus, if you’re not part of a dominant identity group you likely will face different challenges or obstacles,” Looft said. “We know that people do better when they find community and don’t feel alone.”

The Sloss Center is continuously working to build a community of inclusion and equity for all. This past year, they changed their name from Margaret Sloss Women’s Center to the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity. 

This was a very important change to the Sloss Center, done intentionally to recognize their belief that gender work is for everyone, and everyone should be a part of the conversation. Looft said that the Sloss Center wanted to make sure that their title didn’t make any person feel left out or unwelcome in their space.

In an attempt to dispel the myths that the Sloss Center is a place for women only, Looft said, “In our philosophy and understanding of gender we see gender as being a spectrum and broader than just male and female. So we wanted to move away from the reputation the center had of being ‘for women.’”

The Sloss Center is a space of inclusion, diversity, feminist dialogue, equity and so much more in the hopes of creating a more inclusive university campus.

“We’re not a center by women for women, but we’re a center by people who care about feminist work for the purpose of gender equity for everyone,” Looft said.