As students filled a room in University Hall to discuss gender politics during Taboo Talks, one student saw others voice their opinions and support for gender inclusivity.
That student was in transition from one gender to another.
Without the inclusivity provided by the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center during their Taboo Talks and Pride Talk discussions, this student later told coordinator Rosalina Camacho, their transition would have been much harder.
“(The student said) we gave them that safe space to transition to who they are now,” Camacho said.
Camacho proudly reflects on similar stories after 16 years of working in the center.
Creating a safe space for all students on campus to discuss issues of gender, equality and identity are central to the mission of the WoMen’s Center, Camacho said.
The WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center hosts discussions, provides scholarships and tries to create a community where students can have meaningful discussions related to gender and equality.
Ensuring that women are well-represented on campus and given the tools to be successful are the primary concerns of the center, she said.
“Access and equity are really important to me,” said Alisa Flowers, the center’s director.
For Valentine’s Day, Chalea Forgues, Adult Reentry coordinator, had people in the office share what they admired about their colleagues. Now, construction paper hearts with compliments written on them are taped to Camacho’s door. Even through decorations, the center works to emphasize community and kindness, Camacho said.
There is also a gratitude jar where center visitors can share notes of gratitude for their co-workers and peers. The notes are read at staff meetings or given to the people who they are about.
People tend to focus on the negative aspects in their lives, but seeing that someone is grateful for something they have done can turn their day around, Camacho said.
“People don’t get thanked enough, and we don’t thank ourselves enough,” she said.
Men have also sought help and guidance from the center. Camacho recalled a sophomore student who entered the center after his ex-girlfriend told him that she was pregnant with his child.
The center’s staff told him about his rights, since his ex-girlfriend had acknowledged he was the father.
“We walked him through those nine months,” Camacho said. “He has a relationship now with that baby, which probably wouldn’t have happened because he was a really shy and a very naive young man who had no clue what his rights are.”
With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center has been active in hosting discussions and events related to sexual assault.
The center hosted or collaborated in “March for Change,” “Take Back the Night” and “Denim Day” along with other events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Flowers said these events have provided students a chance to learn and raise awareness about sexual assault and opportunities for victims to heal.
“We really want to set up our students to go into the world and make a difference and really start to change the culture (around sexual violence), no matter where they are,” Flowers said.