Building community at the Women’s Resource Center
Celebrating the work of strong females
Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 01:10
For Carisa Weaver, getting hired as the Women's Resource Center Coordinator was a dream come true. After months of hard work and planning, CU Denver's new women's resource center is up and running in NC 2008. For UCD students, this office will serve as a hub for information and a safe space to pass time.
The idea for the resource center started a few years ago when former student Sarah Burrows made a presentation for the Student Government Association. Beth Allen, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at UCD, picked up where Burrows left off and developed a proposal for funding.
Joanna Snawder, associate director of Metro's Institute for Women's Studies and Services, was also heavily involved in developing the vision for the resource center. Last January, she and Allen went in front of the Student Activities board with their proposal.
"The voting members were all men and so…we had to do a little explanation of what our vision was," said Snawder.
The hope for the resource center is to meet the need that Burrows saw by providing resources for UCD students, as well as getting involved in campus programming. "We don't turn away any students, but we are a Metro resident, so a lot of students might not even know how to find us," Snawder said about IWSS. "It's also really important that Carisa is able to carve out that space and that identity for UCD."
When the proposal for Weaver's position was approved, there was no space for the resource center. She was temporarily housed by IWSS until space became available. "We anticipate that we'll be working with her quite a bit and infusing her into the existing programs we have that are for the whole campus," Snawder said.
Weaver's background is in political science and women and gender studies, with an emphasis on ethnic diversity. She has experience running a diversity and inclusion group, as well as organizing events and engaging students. "This is my dream job. This is what I want to do. This is what gets me excited every morning to be who I am," Weaver said.
Student fees fund Weaver's position, and she currently has a graduate assistant helping out. She hopes to eventually employ more students in order to expand the resource center's hours. As it stands now, the office is only open Monday–Thursday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m., as Weaver's position is 30 hours per week.
"The hope is that there can be a pledge, there can be a commitment…that that position and that office can be institutionalized in a different way so that it's safe," Snawder said.
Anakija F., the resource center's graduate assistant, is creating a timeline to display the accomplishments of women at UCD in the office. She also helped put together a resource binder for the resource center and has assisted Weaver in developing presentation materials. She is also the secretary and former president of Gender Issues Scholarship and Action, a UCD student group.
Regarding her interest in gender studies and involvement with the resource center, Anakija said, "My student group is probably what really got me more involved and made closer connections with the staff and faculty."
Weaver hopes to help start student groups at UCD, as well as collaborate with existing groups through the resource center. She even has some funding and welcomes students to submit proposals for events, speakers, and other programs related to issues of gender, diversity, and equality.
In addition to offering funding, the resource center will partner with UCD to participate in campus events such as First-Year 411, a campus event to help new students get acquainted with departments and resources. You can also expect to see the resource center's presence at events during Women's History Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and other events that promote equality and diversity.
The resource center is available to all students and Weaver says she hopes they'll make use of it. The door is open whenever she is there and students are welcome to come in and do homework in a safe and quiet space.
Nora S., a student in the School of Public Affairs, said, "I think that it would be a good place to connect with other women…a good outlet to connect and socialize but not to talk about research projects or whatever."
According to Weaver, a Women and Science discussion group and a pilot program for single parents are a few of the programs the resource center has in the works. The program for parents will provide resources for students who have children. Additionally, a partnership with the Counseling Center will help to assure that these students have the support they need.