The Women's Society of Washington University (WSWU) is an organization of primarily women, of all ages from all backgrounds who share the desire to experience the resources of Washington University through education, scholarships, student projects, and leadership.
Members operate the Bear Necessities shop, located on the South 40. Providing everything from apparel to school supplies, Bear Necessities supports scholarships and student projects.
In 1965, Chancellor Thomas Eliot asked the Women's Board of the Washington University School of Nursing to consider broadening its interests to include activities of the entire University. The goal was an organization that "would bring the community to the University and the University to the community." Starting with 18 members, today this not-for-profit service organization boasts a membership of more than 600.
As of June 2009, WSWU has:
- Awarded 37 full-tuition scholarships to St. Louis Community College graduates
- Presented 17 leadership awards to graduating senior women.
- Provided a total of $325,618 in funding grants to WUSTL student projects (since 1988)
- Established an Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship Endowment to honor "Ibby's" 24 years of dedication to the University and her unfailing support of the society