Category Archives: Sloss House

Margaret Sloss Women’s Center: An Underutilized Resource

by Ahna Kruzic

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center is located in the Sloss House (pictured) between Curtiss Hall and Gerdin Business Building.

Having served as an active volunteer at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center since my first semester at Iowa State, I’ve begun to realize how truly underutilized the facility is. The center, often referred to as the Women’s Center or the Sloss House, is the small residential-looking structure on Central Campus nestled between Curtiss Hall and the Gerdin Business Building. The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center’s mission is to “…promote equity and social change on the Iowa State University campus for women students, staff, and faculty. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.”

The Women’s Center provides extensive community resources and referrals for students in any imaginable situation. Information and support is available for non-traditional adult students. Referrals to ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support) and other sexual assault support services are offered. Support for students with children is offered and information on lactation locations across campus is updated and distributed frequently. Information on community resources such as child care assistance, education and counseling, employment and financial assistance, food, clothing, and furniture banks, medical and wellness resources, rent and utility assistance and volunteer opportunities are provided- just to name a few.

In addition to the extensive amount of valuable community resources associated with the Women’s Center, the Center also offers a welcoming student-centered atmosphere on the main floor. The main floor includes a kitchen complete with refrigerator and freezer, a microwave, an oven, a dishwasher, coffee maker, separate coffee maker for warming water to use in cocoa and tea, baking and serving utensils, dishes, and a kitchen table. The main floor also has a living room that seats up to 15 individuals and is complete with HDTV cable, a sunroom with a couch, table, and chairs, and a computer room with three computers and a printer. All of the latter is available to all students (not just women), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Though the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center offers a plethora of resources for students, faculty, and staff, perhaps the Center’s greatest asset is its welcoming atmosphere. The Women’s Center has an uncanny ability to make you feel as if you’re relaxing at home in the middle of the workday- it’s not uncommon to see a student napping in the sun room, pulling lunch out of the refrigerator, or just watching the afternoon news while sprawled out on one of the couches.  The walls are adorned with local art, the kitchen is always clean, free samples of essentials such as razors, chapstick, and condoms are often left out for students, and the people are friendly; the atmosphere is simply absolutely unmatched by any place on campus.

Adding to the unparalleled atmosphere of the Women’s Center is the amazing women and men who work there. These individuals are passionate about what they do, and it really translates to a positive experience for any student who frequents the space that they do. As a result, students leave feeling respected, valued, and taken care of. The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center, one of Iowa State’s underutilized gems, is a place that wholesomely contributes to the overall well-being of all students who visit- and it shows. The space is truly invaluable to the Iowa State community and I encourage faculty, students, and staff to take advantage of the uniquely supportive atmosphere that the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center offers.

by Ahna Kruzic

Iowa State University | Sociology and Philosophy

Government of the Student Body | Director of ISU Ambassadors



“I believe you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, all the time.  So do it.”

Sadie knows what’s up!  We are all connected – more so now through digital media than ever before.  And through this connection, we have an obligation to support each other.  Lately, I’ve watched a lot of videos with little girls offering positive affirmations for themselves and others, going on about their personal goals in life, and basically celebrating the talents they have.  I think we ought to keep doing this into adulthood.

As the semester closes out, I wish all of you well.  I want you to know that you are fondly thought of as you finish up assignments, prepare to take final exams, and get ready to move on to whatever adventure awaits you this summer. Don’t forget that the Sloss House makes a great place to study and relax between tests!  And we have a kitchen and free coffee!

Penny, our Director here, has us go around at each staff meeting and share a “Smile Sighting”.  A Smile Sighting is something you’ve witnessed in the previous week that made you smile.  We share our sightings with one another as a way to celebrate small things in life.  I think Sadie here is my smile sighting for this week.

As my friends and I start (and continue) job searching, we got into the yucky habit of wallowing in self-doubt and worry.  So we began a new tradition.  Each week, we have to share something we are proud of.  It can be something we did in class, at home, or at work.  But every week, we have to find something to be proud of and share it with someone else.

I guess as things wind up to wind down, I just wanted to leave you with the notion that we should all be doing something we’re good at – something we like doing, we need to find the small things in life to smile about, and we have to be proud of ourselves.  Because certainly, we are talented people.

Liz Steinborn, Graduate Assistant at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center,

Sloss House Preview

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to stop by and see the Sloss House, you can view this video, produced by the Iowa State Daily!

Thank you to everyone who made our reopening such a success!  The Sloss House has been re-warmed with over 70 people in attendance yesterday and we would like to invite you to spend more time with us at the house.

Door prizes from our drawing were awarded to:
Teresita A.
Chris P.
Gail F.
April W.

Congratulations and thanks again for showing your support at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center!

The Sloss House

Welcome back friends!  I hope you had a restful break, and for those of you joining us for the first time, Welcome!  Iowa State is a great place to be and you should add the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center to your list of must-visit places on campus.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Sloss House before, I’d like to invite you to come and see us soon.  We are the two-story house between Gerdin and Curtiss on Central Campus.  We have comfortable furniture on our main floor with three rooms to lounge, knit, or study in, a three-computer lab with a printer (printing is free, just bring your own paper!), and a kitchen with a refrigerator, oven, microwave, coffee pot, and bread machine all available for you to use.  It is a warm, cozy place for group meetings, quiet reading, or just hanging out to watch our new flat screen t.v.


The Sun Room



On the second floor, you will find the staff offices.  If you’d like to come talk to someone about volunteering or learning more about the events we sponsor on campus, visit Petey and Liz, the graduate assistants, in the office at the top of the stairs.  Also stop and see us if you’d like to set up an appointment with Dr. Penny Rice, Director, or Chris Fowler, Assistant Director.  They’re happy to chat with students, staff, and faculty, just make an appointment first.


The Staff: Penny Rice, Christine "Petey" Peterson, Chris Fowler, and Liz Steinborn


Also, be sure to check out our event calendar on the Women’s Center homepage as we have many exciting events coming up this semester from observing January as National Stalking Awareness Month to “The Vagina Monologues”.  Join us on January 19th for our Reopening and 30th Anniversary kickoff event from 10-2!  Enter a drawing to win prizes, have a treat, and learn about the renovations the Sloss House endured this last summer and fall semester.

We’re excited to meet you – and please bring friends!


Join ChickLit – a book club hosted by the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.

Join us to discuss a book each month, or just come to talk about your favorite.  Though we don’t have copies of the books to share, you can find them at most major bookstores and at the Parks and Ames City Libraries.  We will meet monthly on the main floor of the Sloss House from 12-1pm to discuss the following books:

January 20 Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks & The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

In this engaging and provocative volume, bell hooks introduces a popular theory of feminism rooted in common sense and the wisdom of experience. Hers is a vision of a beloved community that appeals to all those committed to equality, mutual respect, and justice.

hooks applies her critical analysis to the most contentious and challenging issues facing feminists today, including reproductive rights, violence, race, class, and work. With her customary insight and unsparing honesty, hooks calls for a feminism free from divisive barriers but rich with rigorous debate. In language both eye-opening and optimistic, hooks encourages us to demand alternatives to patriarchal, racist, and homophobic culture, and to imagine a different future.

hooks speaks to all those in search of true liberation, asking readers to take look at feminism in a new light, to see that it touches all lives. Issuing an invitation to participate fully in feminist movement and to benefit fully from it, hooks shows that feminism—far from being an outdated concept or one limited to an intellectual elite–is indeed for everybody.

In a startling departure from her previous novels ( Lady Oracle , Surfacing ), respected Canadian poet and novelist Atwood presents here a fable of the near future. In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist’s nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the “morally fit” Wives.

The tale is told by Offred (read: “of Fred”), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. This powerful, memorable novel is highly recommended for most libraries.


February 17 The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn’s new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers.

The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. (Feb.)


March 24 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there’s no turning back. This debut thriller–the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson–is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly.

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch–and there’s always a catch–is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.


April 21 The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The red tent is the place where women gathered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and even illness. Like the conversations and mysteries held within this feminine tent, this sweeping piece of fiction offers an insider’s look at the daily life of a biblical sorority of mothers and wives and their one and only daughter, Dinah. Told in the voice of Jacob’s daughter Dinah (who only received a glimpse of recognition in the Book of Genesis), we are privy to the fascinating feminine characters who bled within the red tent. In a confiding and poetic voice, Dinah whispers stories of her four mothers, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah–all wives to Jacob, and each one embodying unique feminine traits. As she reveals these sensual and emotionally charged stories we learn of birthing miracles, slaves, artisans, household gods, and sisterhood secrets. Eventually Dinah delves into her own saga of betrayals, grief, and a call to midwifery.

“Like any sisters who live together and share a husband, my mother and aunties spun a sticky web of loyalties and grudges,” Anita Diamant writes in the voice of Dinah. “They traded secrets like bracelets, and these were handed down to me the only surviving girl. They told me things I was too young to hear. They held my face between their hands and made me swear to remember.” Remembering women’s earthy stories and passionate history is indeed the theme of this magnificent book. In fact, it’s been said that The Red Tent is what the Bible might have been had it been written by God’s daughters, instead of her sons.

1972: The Musical

“1972: The Musical”

30th Anniversary benefit for the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center

Join the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center for a musical romp back in time to 1972.  America was immersed in the jungles of Vietnam as second-wave feminists fought their own battles at home.

Cast of 1972: Clayton Johnson, Lindsay Allen, David Michael, Jo Self, & Alysa Mozak

“1972”, written and directed by Clark Ford, is a three-act musical about a family facing change.  The father, played by David Michael, is a humorous conservative with a penchant for Archie Bunker.  The mother, played by Jo Self, holds the family together but yearns to go back to school and then gets a job outside of the family.  Bob, the college-aged son, played by Clayton Johnson, is in a fraternity and is pursuing the American Dream.  Lindsey Allen plays the college-aged daughter studying feminism.  She really begins to question the religion and patriarchy in which she was raised.  Alysa Mozak plays the part of Janice, a free-loving hippie who is going back to school, and it turns out both Bob and Marnie are attracted to her…

Show times and Dates:

  • Thursday, December 9th, 7:30pm
  • Friday, December 10th, 7:30pm
  • Saturday, December 11th, 2:00pm
  • Saturday, December 11th, 7:30pm

Tickets on Sale at the Maintenance Shop
$8 for students
$12 for public

For more information, contact the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center (  We can’t wait to see you at the show!

Secret Agents are Seeking Secrets!

Do you have something weighing on your mind you just have to let out?  The Secret Agents provides an outlet for your deepest, most private secrets.  Inside the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center’s front door, there is a box where you can drop off your secret.

It’s a place to let it all out. Write down what you won’t tell anyone and send them in. Tell us your flaws, most embarrassing moments, what you did last summer, your guilty pleasures, your addictions, your feats over them, your crimes, your punishments, your secrets.

We all have skeletons so share them in the most anonymous way possible.

Modeled after, we would like to invite you to let out those burning secrets.  If there’s something you have been longing to share, but cannot find the place to share it, visit the Sloss House.

You can use your own postcards and mail them to:
Sloss House
Ames, IA  50011-1220

Or you can save on postage and come by the Sloss House, fill out a provided postcard and leave it in our drop box.  New secrets are posted daily.


Of all the products invented to enhance and display the breasts of women, I think the funniest thing I’ve found is called “The Kush”.  Simply wedge this cute little foam separator between your boobs at night to support C-cups or bigger to keep the skin between your breasts from wrinkling.  Yes, you read correctly: wrinkling.

Prevents boob-sweating AND wrinkles. Just what I've been looking for!

We’re worried about wrinkles between our boobs?!  Now I hate that I’m about to put this link on here, but seriously, I cannot resist.  Check out the most ridiculous video where “doctors” evaluate the usefulness of “The Kush” Go ahead, check it out.  I’ll wait…

I couldn’t decide to laugh or punch the computer screen when the doctor on the far left said “Mine’s bigger than yours” (for those of you who didn’t watch the video, that doctor was a man).  Now, the Kush’s actual website suggests using your Kush to support your breasts during pregnancy…maybe I’ll believe that…  But the video and the “doctors” seemed much more concerned with preventing unsightly cleavage wrinkles from appearing between large breasts.

When I Google the word “breast” 29,100,000 hits appear in .32 seconds.  That’s a lot of boobs!  In the side bar of Google, “Natural Breast Augmentation” appears to tell me that I can use my own body fat to enhance my breasts.  The second add is “What’s your bra size?” and that’s self-explanatory.  Do I get a free boob-separator with the purchase of Natural Breast Augmentation?

One big message is given to me: you need big breasts and they need to appear perky and fantastic and for heaven’s sake, make certain you don’t have wrinkles in your cleavage!  And for those of you who’ve wished for bigger, perkier breasts: good luck! because Mother Nature and gravity don’t think big and perky go together very well.

I distinctly recall a summer, one year before going through puberty, where I spent a part of each day wishing and praying for breasts.  A. Whole. Summer.  Be careful what you wish for my friends, because it became apparent to me that my time spent wishing was directly proportionate to my current bra size.  And now I wish they’d shrink down about a size-and-a-half.  My friends and I used to sit around and, naturally, talk about our breasts.  The big joke was that I could share equally with three of my smaller-breasted friends and then we’d all be even.  The grass is always greener…

I do find it a bit ridiculous that we have such an obsession with the sexy appearance of breasts and a revulsion towards their actual purpose.  For instance, when people see a woman nursing her child in public, women and men alike act appalled.  All manner of products have been designed to cover and conceal nursing children because it’s “inappropriate”.  Actually, nursing a baby is one of the most appropriate reasons for seeing a breast.  It sure beats some of the cleavage-bearing tops we’re subjected to seeing and wearing (and only when we pair it with a plunging bra with spaghetti straps – and frankly, if you’re bigger than a B-cup, those narrow straps leave a sexy gouge in your shoulder…maybe we need a Kush for that?!).  For more information about breastfeeding and lactation locations at Iowa State, visit the MSWC Homepage.

I think the sexualization of breasts is a reason Breast Cancer Awareness month has so much power.  A combination of good marketing and the fact that breasts have been used to define women for many years has made October the pinkest month of the year.  I am not attempting to say that Breast Cancer Awareness isn’t an awesome cause and that dollars do need to be raised to find a cure.  But did you know that heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined?

Yes, my breasts are on the outside and are very visible reminders to raise awareness about breast cancer, but underneath my breasts lies a heart.  And if I don’t take care of my heart, my breasts (and wrinkles) won’t matter.

Written by: Liz Steinborn
Questions or comments? Email:

Knitting Therapy

It’s getting cold out.  I walked outside this morning and noticed a crisp frost lay on the ground.  And I didn’t have a single knitting project with me!

I have crocheted two hats in the last week – on top of presenting three projects in class, moving back into the Sloss House and getting settled.  No big deal.  I need to work with yarn in a tangible way in order to breathe.  So I take little breaks from paper and project-designing and I sit down with a bag of yarn and some crochet hooks or knitting needles.

There’s an alchemy in taking sticks and strings and turning it into some sort of wearable fabric.  It’s true: I make fabric.  I love the connection between a loved pattern, a loved yarn, and loving creation for a loved one.  It has been over a year since I’ve knit or crochet anything for myself.  Everything I produce has been sent off to friends or family.

I feel that everyone should have a connection with the fibers.  So if you have a desire to knit or crochet – or to learn – join us at the Sloss House every Friday afternoon from 12-1pm.  We have beginner equipment to teach you with, or bring your favorite yarn and tools.  We can’t wait for you to join us!

30th Anniversary Logo

In January, 2011, the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary at Iowa State University.  Here’s a bit of herstory for you:

The Sloss House is located on the Iowa State University campus. This stately little house is nestled among pine trees, with a spectacular view to the west of the University’s central campus. When Sloss House was built in 1883, it was both a significant and dominate building. The location of the college necessitated housing for part of the faculty, since Ames proper was an half-hour horse ride away. The structure marked the boundary of the faculty community from the rest of the college. At the time of its completion, it was one of the twelve buildings on the campus.

The Sloss House has become lost in the University’s growth over the last 100 years. However, it still retains most of its original character with the surrounding environment. Everything remains virtually unchanged, as if it has just been completed, except for the overgrowth of some of the vegetation and the fact that Curtiss Hall is to the North. A view from the house to the west, south and east can give you a historic feeling of what the campus may have actually looked like in its early years.” Today only three faculty home remain on campus. Construction of the new Gerdin Business College will begin during Fall 2001 just south of the Sloss House.

Yes women have the right to vote.  Yes more women are enrolling in higher education than ever before.  Yes women are starting to make their way in predominantly male fields.  But there is still a long way to go.  Women are still asked to choose between advancing their careers and having a family.  One in four college women is still sexually assaulted during their college career.  Women are still considered too emotional and too sensitive to work in certain fields.  And women are still being paid $0.73 for every dollar their male colleagues make.

We have a long way to go.  The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center is here to support you!

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