A Professor’s Passion Drives Success in the Bertha Harris Women’s Center
By: Natalia Sandor
Alyson Bardsley is a mentor, an academic, and a challenger of conventional thought. She also is a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic tenured professor who has been teaching at CSI since 1997.
Bardsley teaches a variety of courses at the college but is well known for teaching English and Literature classes. Recently, she has become a women’s gender and sexuality studies professor at the college after discovering her “interest in feminism and how it asks unasked questions.”
She is curious and always searches to better understand the people as well as the world around her. It is her drive to connect and to listen that makes her humility and empathy shine. These qualities make her the perfect leader and director of the Bertha Harris Women’s Center.
Bardsley currently co-directs the Bertha Harris Women’s Center, which is located in building 2N room 106, with Catherine Lavender. The center is staffed by interns and has a very dedicated college assistant named Lori Uccio.
The interns at the center are responsible for organizing campus events and for researching various topics in relation to gender studies as well as the center’s mission. This mission is described by Bardsley is to “support women students and their allies.”
The Women’s Center is making waves at the college in the areas of inclusion, equality, sustainability, respecting diversity, empathetic thinking, and so much more. This can be seen by the variety and expansive nature of their events.
The center has supported a range of events including stress workshops with focuses on self-care, events that speak about menstrual stigma and information sessions regarding STIs. The center even participated in a denim drive which just recently ended and proved to be a huge success.
In the spring, the center has their annual community reading of the “Vagina Monologues” which happens sometime around Valentine’s Day. The center even holds a fundraiser in order to give a scholarship to any single moms who are also working to get a higher education here at CSI.
Every fall, the center hosts the “Take Back the Night” event which raises awareness about things like domestic violence and abuse. This year, around 120 people attended.
The center also ran a domestic violence showcase in 1P during the month of October where they display different quotes to highlight the severity of the issue and trauma that can be caused in these sorts of situations.
On October 9th the center co-hosted a salary negotiation workshop to teach women how to effectively ask for what they deserve when performing a job in a company. All of these amazing events would not be possible without the efforts of Bardsley as she is a major source of passion and drive for the center.
It is easy to see how the efforts of Bardsley are making big changes at the college and providing female, transgender and non-conforming students with ample amounts of opportunity to find support on their sometimes really different journeys.
“She is passionate about what she believes and thinks about things that others would not think about on their own,” says Uccio. For anyone who knows Bardsley knows that this is most definitely true.
Bardsley is passionate beyond belief about things like the impact we have on the environment and about social equality.
But the biggest thing about Bardsley is that she cares. “She cares so much about the student. She will do whatever it takes to get things done and that is why I love her,” says Uccio.
She continues, “she knows what she has to get done so she cares about the work. But she cares about the person doing the work too.” This is hard to come by and the college is so lucky to have someone like Bardsley who places emphasis on both.
On December 10th they will host a wrapping party for the gift drive they host for Gift Horizon. Bardsley explains how if it wasn’t for the Women’s Center, Christmas would not happen for a lot of different people who benefit from their efforts.
In the fall of 2020, Bardsley will be stepping down as co-director. “This will be a loss for the center,” says Uccio. So, it is of great importance to thank Bardsley for her efforts and for her passion as she enters her last semester directing the Bertha Harris Women’s Center.
The Women’s Center is disrupting the status quo and implementing initiatives that will help make CSI a more inclusive and empathetic place to be. Bardsley leaves with a legacy that has impacted so many lives.
Hopefully the center will continue to move in the direction she has pushed it in.
Bardsley has so much kindness and puts so much heart into the things that she does as well as the things she says. It is this mindful way that she conducts herself that makes her a person of great impact and of great wisdom.
CSI is grateful for this tremendous “Human of CSI.”