Center for Community Solutions is honored that our founders, Carol Rowell Council and Joyce Nower, were inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame this past Sunday, March 5th, which “acknowledges women whose actions and accomplishments have visibly made a difference for women in the community.”
Carol Rowell Council’s interest in feminism grew from her participation in anti-war and student right’s movements. After attending a teach-in on sex role stereotyping in Reno, Nevada, feminism became a passion of hers and she began her mission to meet like-minded women at San Diego State College (now San Diego State University). In the spring of 1969 she was introduced to Joyce Nower, a literature professor and poet. Together they started a women’s “rap group” which acted as a salon for women to discuss various feminist topics. This rap group became the birthplace for the idea to start a women’s studies program at San Diego State.
The women’s “rap group” soon evolved into the Ad Hoc committee for Women’s Studies, which Carol coordinated. The Ad Hoc committee dedicated itself to grass roots campaigning to raise campus support for the Women’s Studies Program. Thanks to the committee’s fearless and tireless advocacy, on May 22, 1970 the faculty senate approved their proposal for a women’s studies program.
The first classes offered as part of the Women’s Studies program were Women in Contemporary Cultures, Socialization Process of Women, Self-Actualization of Women, Contemporary Issues in Liberation of Women, Women in History, Women in Literature, Human Sexuality, Status of Women Under Various
Economic Systems, Women and Education, and Field Experience. Today there are over 900 women’s studies programs.
“From the very outset (Summer of 69) it was clear to all of us… that women’s needs are not isolated but rather interlock in many subtle as well as obvious ways. Had we not in those original rap groups discussed some of the problems of women on welfare, women in prison, the older woman, the working woman [?] It was clear then that neither an academic program alone, nor an isolated service project such as child care, no matter how important, would reflect our understanding of these interlocking needs. We developed the concept of a center composed of interlocking components corresponding to the various needs” – Joyce Nower, 1971
In 1972, they formalized this concept of a center, founding The Center for Women’s Studies and Services (now the Center for Community Solutions), where Carol was director for 20 years. In 1977, they launched a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence and started an underground network of private homes for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Today, Center for Community Solutions is the largest provider of prevention and intervention services in San Diego County for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Below are links to their personal accounts of what it took to get the first Women’s Studies program in the nation started.
Love, B. J. (2006). Feminists who changed America, 1963–1975. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
San Diego State University Women’s Studies Program Development (n.d.) Women’s Museum of California Collections. Retrieved from: http://wmccollections.omeka.net/exhibits/show/findingaids/sdsuwomensstudiesprogramdevelo
The Centaur for Women: Memoirs of the Student Founder of Women’s Studies (n.d.) Veteran Feminists of America. Retrieved from: http://www.vfa.us/CarolCouncil.htm
By Elizabeth Seckel, CCS Grant Writer