The UC Santa Barbara Women’s Center held an event for women in the BIPOC community — which includes Black, Indigenous and people of color students — at the Student Resource Building on Oct. 20 to decompress and relax amidst the tension of midterms.

Participants practiced mindfulness activities, learned about topics like self-preservation and were provided with snacks and free journals during the event.

Leah Fullerton, a second-year pre-psychology and brain sciences major and one of the student programmers at the Women’s Center, organized the event to help create a space for BIPOC women to practice self-care amidst midterms season. 

“The society that we live in tells us that we have to produce all the time, like ‘go go go grind culture,’ and that causes stress,” Fullerton said. “So seeing mindfulness as a means of just taking care of yourself as an act of resistance, it’s kind of like fighting back against [society] in a way to reflect and just take time for yourself.”

Fullerton said another source of stress for the BIPOC community is the subconscious awareness that they may not see or find others who look like them around campus or in classes.

“Maybe you’ve kind of gotten used to the fact that you’re one of the only non-white people in your math class,” she said. “That’s not something you might think about a lot, but it’s something that adds a little bit of stress. It gets to you.” 

“Having these spaces where you feel like you can relax and you feel like you have a community who can understand you at least a little bit more . . . it just might release a little bit of that tension,” Fullerton continued.

Within the last year, Fullerton had been disappointed with how the university was handling some of the pertinent issues concerning those with marginalized identities. Because of that, she felt connected to many of the topics which the Women’s Center addresses once she came to campus.

“When people showed up, I was just like, ‘Wow, this means that you really, really want to be here, and it’s something that you’ve carved out the time for,’” she said. “You take time out of your day, to reflect a little bit, that was the point of [the event]. Really, all I could ever want was that people just felt a little bit more relaxed and centered.”

This event was a part of the “Wednesdays at the Women’s Center” series, which intends to create safe spaces and build communities where individuals can talk about shared experiences. Most of the Women’s Center’s larger programs are open to all identities, but the center also offers smaller events catered for specific groups. 

“Now that we’re back on campus, the Women’s Center provides a space where people can meet one another, make friends and re-integrate into a community that engages in conversations about social justice,” Betsy Kaminsky, director of the UCSB Department of Women, Gender and Sexual Equity, said in a statement to the Nexus.

According to Kaminsky, the pandemic magnified existing inequities in many marginalized communities, like anti-Asian racism and gender-based violence, so it’s important to offer programs addressing these issues.

“Within each individual, there’s a part of the community, there’s something that resonates with the other members,” Fullerton said. “You’re there for each other. It’s welcoming, and it’s safe. I think that that’s probably the most ideal kind of place.”

A version of this article appeared on p. 6 of the Oct. 28, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.