We, A.S. Womyn’s Commission, A.S. Queer Commission, End Fake Clinics, Take Back the Night, Voices for Planned Parenthood and The Women, Gender, and Sexual Equity Department, are extremely frustrated and disappointed with your decision on April 22, to not endorse the proposed fee increase for The Women, Gender, and Sexual Equity Department. In your reasoning you explained that a fee increase from $4.25 to $8.17 per student, per quarter, seemed “extraneous” and that the current fee “already provides adequate funding.” Furthermore you claimed that, “increasing student employment, expanding community outreach programs and maintaining up-to-date libraries and lounge areas do not seem like the best use for student funds,” and added, “especially in light of recent tuition increases and student budget constraints.” It is our view that student employment, community outreach, libraries and spaces to study and feel safe, are indeed crucially important especially in times when other services and opportunities are being reduced. Therefore, allow us to explain to you, in more depth than your journalists were capable of, the importance of the WGSE department, the organizations that cooperate with and rely on the WGSE department, and most importantly the necessity of these spaces in the UCSB and Isla Vista community.
First let’s begin by addressing what exactly the WGSE department offers to this campus. Aside from a library and conference room available for student organizations, that you made sure to highlight on both articles printed on April 17 and April 22, the WGSE department does much more with its far from “adequate” funding. They are responsible for CARE (Campus Advocacy, Resources, and Education); Sexual Harassment Prevention Education Program; the Non-Traditional Student Resource Center; the Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity; quarterly program offerings and support groups. In other words, a SAFE SPACE. Moreover, they work with many organizations on campus such as: PAVE, Men Against Rape, A.S. Womyn’s Commission, Take Back the Night, VOX- Voices for Planned Parenthood, Women’s Ensemble Theater Troupe, Women in Science and Engineering, Student Veterans Organization, Queer Student Union and A.S. Queer Commission. WGSE provides safe spaces and advocacy for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. They also provide LGBTQIA resources as well as resources for non-traditional students (student parents, veterans). Additionally, WGSE is adding a new advocacy fund. In the past, survivors would have to pay for protective orders and other fees on their own, and this new advocacy fund would allow WGSE to help pay for those costs. The WGSE department is essential to these groups and individuals for funding, support and advocacy.
Your refusal to endorse a fee increase that is much needed and you labeled as “extraneous,” was particularly outrageous considering the community WGSE serves. Knowing the high prevalence of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, hate crimes, homophobia, gender discrimination, among other issues that occur on this campus and in Isla Vista, common sense dictates anyone to think critically about this center and what it offers to this campus. Your decision against this fee is emblematic of how disregarded these, unfortunately very common, issues are at UCSB. We invite you to step into the WGSE center, where increased funds are a necessity, to educate your paper and properly research everything that the center has to offer. We recognize your influence on this campus and urge you to use it responsibly; do not belittle safe spaces as a luxury, strive for more than “adequacy.”
The above letter was written collaboratively by: A.S. Womyn’s Commission, A.S. Queer Commission, End Fake Clinics, Take Back the Night, Voices for Planned Parenthood and the Women, Gender, and Sexual Equity Department.
A version of this letter appeared on page 16 of the April 25, 2013 print edition of the Nexus. A response from the Nexus appeared below.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.