The UCSB Women’s Center was established in 1975. Its goal was to provide a place for women students, faculty, and staff to be safe, find community and resources that would support them, and discuss common issues around gender equity on our campus and beyond.
As women began pursuing higher education in greater numbers, there was a specific need to work with women who were starting their college education after having children—thus, the Women’s Center began to develop non-traditional student services. At the time, it was a student mothers support area and focused on support systems for breastfeeding, managing home and academic responsibilities, and community building. As gender norms around parenting began to shift, The Women's Center evolved to include student parents of all genders, as well as non-parenting students over the age of twenty-five. This led to the development of The Non-Traditional Student Resource Center, which now serves parenting, returning, and formerly incarcerated students at UCSB and remains within the Women, Gender, and Sexual Equity department.
In addition to women’s and parenting resources, UCSB’s CARE (Campus Advocacy Resources and Education), formerly known as the Rape Prevention Program, originated as a part of The Women’s Center in the 1980s. Now CARE is its own department in the Division of Student Affairs, but we continue to share CARE’s mission of providing support for survivors of interpersonal violence. LGBTQ+ student support services also began as a part of The Women’s Center due to our investment in gender and sexual equity, and in 1999 the Queer Resource Center was born. Now called The Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the RCSGD became a separate department in Student Affairs in 2018. We continue to collaborate with the RCSGD to support students and staff of marginalized genders and sexualities at UCSB.
Now, as we move through our fifth decade at UCSB, The Women's Center is more relevant than ever as the community seeks places to discuss difficult questions, find feminist community, and practice self and community care.
We now offer programming of various scales, from small-group discussions on important issues facing women and people of marginalized genders to large-scale speakers and workshops. We have historically developed and provided “passive programming,” too: informational posters and materials that Resident Assistants could check out from our front desk to post in their dormitories, often on important issues like menstrual equity, feminism in popular culture, consent, and theories of gender. As social media becomes an increasingly important part of our daily lives, we have turned our attention to providing this education online.
We also now share a lounge space with Health and Wellness where students are welcome to study, relax, check out books from The Women’s Center library, use the massage chair, and get access to free and healthy snacks.
Be sure to follow us on instagram at @ucsbwomenscen to take advantage of Women’s Center resources and receive notifications when we have new program offerings. People of all genders who are invested in equity and social justice are welcome in this community!