The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) opened in August 1973 with its purpose being to create “educational programming, study space and resources, sexual assault and domestic/relationship violence advocacy, leadership opportunities, special events, and safety support services for women and all members of the UCR community,” as stated on the center’s FAQ section. From its conception, the center has collaborated with other resources on and off campus for issues that affect other marginalized communities, such as the LGBTQ community. It has adapted since then with the ever changing needs of students and communities by adding programs such as the quarterly self–defense and the Persist: Women’s Political Engagement Conference.
WRC Director Denise Davis shared how the center has changed since the beginning. “There were feelings of disempowerment post-2016 election and I thought, ‘What can we do as the Women’s Resouce Center to respond to these feelings,’” Davis said, “and to help empower students especially women and students of color and undocumented students, Muslim students who were feeling particularly vulnerable; and so we came up with the concept of the Persist: Women’s Political Engagement Conference.” The conference aims to encourage not only women, but everyone to pursue all kinds of political engagement from activism to running for office.
During her tenure, the center first focused mainly on helping those who survived sexual assault, but those issues are now handled by the Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education (CARE) offices established throughout every UC in 2015. Since then, the WRC has added legal assistance for those kinds of situations and now devotes its resources to “highlight survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and raise awareness,” said Davis.
These issues are highlighted with events like The Clothesline Project in the fall, and Take Back the Night in spring. The Clothesline Project allows survivors to write their stories on a t-shirt and display them on a clothesline as a way to bring attention to violence against women. At Take Back the Night students come together to march from the Alumni Center to the Belltower to break the silence around sexual assault through shared stories.
The WRC also helps students build on their life skills. In observance of Women’s Day this past Sunday, March 9, the Center held a presentation, “Salary Negotiation through an Intersectional Lens.” It was created and hosted by one of the WRC interns, as most programs are. This one was organized by Yvette Hayes, a fourth-year sociology major. A perk of being an intern, as Shamika Martinez, a fourth-year liberal studies major said, “You have the freedom to talk about something meaningful and bring awareness to that with the Women’s Resource Center, so it’s a good opportunity to educate other people about things you are interested in and not just things focused around the WRC those things are important too.”
This presentation had in mind a woman of color’s perspective and more specifically those who came from a low income family; its four panelists were people of color that had been in either single parent households or foster care. Some were also first generation college students. When asked by the host Yvette Hayes how her identity affects negotiation, Monique Pierce, the program coordinator and panelist of the event, answered, “We all know the data that women make less than men but that statement is speaking to what white women make black women, Latino women make much less… and just in general women don’t really negotiate as much.”
Because 89% of UCR’s population is made up of people of color, and over half of its demographic is female, the kind of information that the session provided applies to a majority of those who attend UCR, especially those of immigrant families and first generation college students.
Currently the WRC offers Campus Safety and Escort and the R’Kids program, which is a student-led community that creates a family-friendly environment for students, faculty and staff who have children. The CampusSafety and Escort program allows students to be walked anywhere on campus if they don’t feel safe. R’Kids is the division that is devoted to students and staff who have children, providing services like child care, lactation rooms on campus and a support group geared toward student-parents. They also have Feminist Fridays, which is a weekly gathering and discussion on varying topics from sex education to finacial wellness. These and other resources are happily offered by the WRC in Costo Hall 260.