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Abby Palko

October 08, 2020

shadows of lambeth columns

I stare at the reminder on my calendar: draft due to Leigh Ann, and the only words that come to mind are “I have no more words.” It’s time to write my next column. But it’s also time to pause and absorb the fact that we are six months into living remotely in an effort to contain a global pandemic, and over 200,000 of my fellow citizens have died in those six months.

It has been a long six months. 

There is a very good reason I feel like I have no more words – an intertwined set of very good reasons, actually.

August 15, 2020

Photo by Caltech Center for Diversity

Since the end of May when we originally published the below thoughts, we have witnessed growing engagement in activism, protests, and demonstrations here in our community, across the country, and even the globe, calling for justice for George Floyd and an end to racism and systemic oppression of Black Americans and all people of color. The building momentum gives us hope that desperately needed collective action will be taken to ensure justice and safety for all.

July 08, 2020

It’s not a secret that the Women’s Center embraces an ethos of trauma stewardship. In the past weeks, I have found myself turning to the epigraph from one of the field’s foundational texts: You can only go halfway into the darkest forest; then you're coming out the other side.

June 16, 2020

Claire Kaplan and the center's 2019-20 GVSC interns in front of the "Stronger at the Broken Places” mural. The project grew out of an annual Day of Healing and incorporates donated materials with design and labor contributions from survivors and volunteers who support them.

Claire Kaplan’s position with the Sexual Assault and Education Office here at the Women’s Center was established in 1991 after a student campaign demanding the addition of a full-time coordinator for this essential part of the fledgling center’s work. The students’ campaign included a candlelight vigil held for 134 hours – an hour for each sexual assault reported at UVA that year. 

April 28, 2020

Like everyone else who is currently teaching, I needed to revise the syllabus for my course mid-semester. As I did that, I inserted this graphic at the top as a visual reminder for my students. If we focus on the “moon,” its light can help us see the meaning and good we can find in this moment. But, we need a sustainable schedule to do that.

March 31, 2020

cherry tree in bloom

Some of you know that my husband is disabled. I usually say he “has mobility challenges” or “health issues.” He says he’s crippled. The medical reality is that he has a C4-level spinal cord injury that he incurred in a swimming accident at the Jersey Shore eight years ago. In the immediate aftermath, he spent 8 weeks in the hospital. We sought a “new normal” and, silver lining to that experience, I learned some things that I’d like to share with you.

March 23, 2020

Last Monday started with a call from one of my staff members, telling me that they’d tested positive for COVID-19. My eyes are welling with tears of gratitude as I type this next sentence: this Monday started with them calling me to tell me that they are recovering.

All of us at the Women’s Center are grateful for the support you all have shown us in this past week and your concern for the affected person. I have shared your calls and emails with them.

March 17, 2020

view of women's center from the corner

Dear Friends of the Women's Center,

You've likely seen President Ryan's announcement that a Women’s Center staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. We are holding them in our thoughts for a full recovery.

The Women’s Center is closed and being cleaned. Current plans call for the center to remain closed for the duration that our staff will be fully self-quarantined at their homes and until we receive official word that by every measure it is safe to reopen. When the Center reopens, we will communicate that here and in our usual channels.

February 28, 2020

gathering of students of color

View the Speaking in Hues trailer on Iris and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. 

Marwah: Incredible growth happens when people are able to look beyond the box of themselves.

Lizz: And just get past that guilt. Like, ok, you feel guilty but what else?

Marwah: When I procrastinate an assignment, I feel guilty. But...

Lizz: But then it gets done. You move on. And great work gets done at the end of it. Let’s not procrastinate on liberation, though. Because we need that. 


January 27, 2020

books on shelf

So much has changed since we first posted our 2020 challenge in January -- but with half of the year to go, it seems even more important to us. If you're looking for readings to help you understanding racism and anti-racism, here are 5 we recommend (most, but not all, are by women of color):