Ban Righ Centre at Queen’s University begins 50th anniversary celebrations early

A special institution at Queen’s University is preparing for its 50th anniversary by starting the festivities early.

The Ban Righ Centre is the only place of its kind in the country, and this fall it is gearing up to celebrate half a century of helping mature, female students succeed in education.

The centre at Queen’s is a safe haven for women who are re-entering education after time away, providing services, assistance and even just a quiet place to be.

“We provide financial assistance, student advising and referrals, we have free soup every day at lunch for our students,” said Ban Righ Centre’s Director, Susan Balyea, who once attended the Ban Righ Centre as a student herself.

For nearly 50 years, mature female students returning to education have spent countless hours at the Ban Righ Centre studying, eating, getting advice, working, or even sometimes catching up on some much-needed rest in one of the old house’s designated napping rooms.

Ozge Girgin is pursuing a PhD in the Department of Sociology and has been going to the centre for a few years.

“The needs of mature students are different and it’s good to know that these needs are taken into account when developing programs,” said Girgin.

Caitlin Gallup said she was referred to the Ban Righ Centre by a classmate when she arrived at Queen’s to pursue a master’s in Art Conservation.

“She just said there’s this magical place on campus where there’s couches and there’s free soup and it’s for mature woman students who have come back to school, and I thought, ‘This is too good to be true,” she added.

While the Ban Righ Centre is known across campus for its excellent bowls of soup that are served daily for free, it becomes much more than that for the people who go there.

Adorning the walls inside are pictures of women across decades who have come, grown, and later gone on to support the Ban Righ Centre, long after they’ve moved on.

To celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary, Balyea and the staff at the centre have kicked off their “Who Is She?” campaign.

“We’re asking people to make a tribute to an inspiring woman in their life. Somebody who’s had your back, who’s inspired you, who’s been a mentor. It could be a sister, a mother,” said Balyea.

The written tributes will be posted for all to see at the Ban Righ Centre’s celebratory gala next October when they officially celebrate the anniversary.

As for the future of the Ban Righ Centre, she said they simply want to keep helping people.

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