The UCSB Women’s Center is asking for a $1.25 lock-in fee increase that would enable it to continue offering services to students, faculty and staff.
Before the increase can appear on the Spring Quarter election ballot, the center needs to collect the signatures of at least 15 percent of the student body – roughly 3,000 students. The deadline for signatures is Feb 1, and the center has collected just over half of the necessary signatures, said Sharon Hoshida, Women’s Center program director. If passed, both undergraduate and graduate students would have to pay a total of $3 per quarter, per student to the Women’s Center, which currently receives a lock-in fee of $1.75 per student, per quarter.
Hoshida said that the increase would allow the center to continue funding its existing programs, events and internships, as well as provide for the creation of new ones. Hoshida said she is working to find ways to keep the center and its programs running, despite the lack of funding.
“These budget cuts have become increasingly more critical to the functioning of our center,” she said. “With an increasing student body in the last five years, funding has decreased during a time when more services are required.”
The fee would also benefit the Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity, a division of the Women’s Center.
“So far, we have already had to eliminate our assistant director position,” said Kyle Richards, the resource center’s director. “The budget decrease has hurt our operating programs and library. We used to have a scholarship that aided students who were facing financial problems due to hardships at home. That, too, has been removed.”
Hoshida said cuts to the Women’s Center budget over the last four years have resulted in a 13 percent funding drop. She said she expects another 10 percent cut by the end of this school year.
“Some of our programs, such as Students Stopping Rape and Men Against Rape, have suffered from the budget cut,” Hoshida said. “We’ve had to cut back on internships that involve leadership in these and other such programs. Other internships have been removed completely, such as student staff and library personnel.”
Meredith Ashbran, the coordinator of the Students Stopping Rape program, said she is working on plans to make up for the decrease in financial support.
“We’ve lost our assistant coordinator, who helped with meetings, internships and specialized in rape prevention,” Ashbran said. “More time is spent fundraising and less time teaching.”
Hoshida said the center also needs financial support to continue its services to university employees. Under a new California state law that recently went into effect, an entity employing more than 50 people must educate its workers about sexual assault and harassment. Hoshida said the Women’s Center agreed to train the university’s employees.
The center also provides counseling and group studies, as well as educational programs on rape prevention and gender identity.