womens center

A note was left on the door at the WoMen's Center located in Steven G. Mihaylo Hall. (Spencer Otte/Daily Titan)

After reading the Daily Titan article about the closure of the WoMen’s Center, faculty members created a petition on March 7, said Karyl Ketchum, department chair of women and gender studies. The petition has 360 signatures from Cal State Fullerton faculty.

Neither faculty nor the Academic Senate had input on the center’s closure and that there has not been an announcement or an explanation of the center's closure, according to the petition.

In response to the petition, the Office of Student Affairs held a webinar for faculty.

Becky Dolhinow, a women and gender studies associate professor, said the faculty thought the webinar was going to be an opportunity to ask questions but it was more of a presentation.

“It moves so far from what we had asked for that a lot of us did not attend. Instead, we had our own organizing meeting,” Dolhinow said.

Barbara McDowell, a part-time human services instructor and retired administrator, was the director of the center and adult reentry program from 1988 to 2009. McDowell said she was heartbroken when she heard the center was closed.

McDowell said she signed the petition because she wanted to do everything she can to keep the center open and that it’s important to have a center dedicated to women on campus.

“It's extremely important. Although when the center first started in 1972, everything was a woman's issue. Everything was a concern and unequal and a lot of biases about women,” McDowell said. “Today, the misogyny, the biases about women, discrimination about women, it's simply more subtle. But it's a bit prevalent in our society.”

Angelly Barroso, a former student assistant for the center, said she heard about the faculty petition to reopen the center by reading about it online. Barroso worked in the center in fall 2021. However, she said hearing about the petition excited her because it meant that there was attention being brought to bringing back an important resource on campus. She said she wishes that there was more of an effort for support of the center prior to the closure, but seeing the efforts to bring it back still shows that people care.

Barosso said during its last semester open, the center wasn’t getting the support it needed to carry on in the way their student employees hoped for. Compared to the other centers on campus, Barosso said she felt that they weren’t supported enough and felt that it was out of place.

When she was hired, Barosso said she was drawn to the position because she felt connected to being part of a center where she could incorporate her public health studies. At orientation, Barosso said that the environment was motivating and so many of the employees had different ideas for how the center could operate. However, as the semester continued, Barosso and many of the employees started to get the idea that the center was closing.

“At the time that we were hired, a lot of the duties and roles that we had to do were already kind of dissolving in itself. So there wasn't a lot to do because everything that we were doing was already being done by another center or another location,” Barosso said.

Barosso said that she and some of the other employees were left a little frustrated at the fact that they were hired when it seemed like it was already decided that the center would be closing.

The handling of the closure was disappointing for the student employees who needed to find new jobs at the end of the semester, but Barosso said she was more disappointed for the students that used the center.

“I feel bad for the students not being able to reassure them if the center was going to be able to reopen or reassure them of another center that they would be open and willing to go to. That was kind of hard to tell the students, and kind of just not really give them proper closure, at least to the center. I felt like students really needed that also,” Barosso said.

Barosso said she heard about the new center reopening in the fall from an announcement by a graduate assistant. It wasn’t about having a place for former employees to go back to, but rather just announcing it. Barosso said the employees already found other jobs on campus, but she still hopes that the new center will be beneficial for students.

“I'm just happy that they are opening it again, because I think it definitely was a good space for students. I hope that they're able to kind of look at the mistakes that we did in the past and how they can improve that,” Barosso said.

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