Cuts to the Women’s Resources and Research Center budget resulting in the elimination of the Gender Education program next year is spurring outrage among students.
The Gender Education (GE) program began after a Department of Justice grant in 1999 and has since been maintained by funds from various organizations, but was never officially added to the WRRC budget.
The Campus Violence Prevention Program (CVPP) and the physical education department along with the WRRC supported the program financially through the current academic year, but can’t continue the funding next year due to budget cuts.
“Despite many proposals and well-documented successes, the university administration never permanently funded the program,” said Joy Evans, assistant director of the WRRC in an e-mail interview.
The GE program provides classes, workshops and programs on campus that address issues of violence against women, sexism and teaches women how to empower themselves through a holistic approach.
“The benefits of these classes include increased confidence, reduced fears around safety and a gained sense of empowerment and control for survivors of past or ongoing violence,” said Katie Davalos, WRRC library intern in an e-mail interview.
Julienne Ratanasen, the GE’s specialist who oversees all programs, will lose her job after this school year if the GE fails to be put on the permanent WRRC budget.
“I’m in disbelief that the program is ending,” Ratanasen said. “I am totally intertwined in the self interest of the program.”
Students have come together to organize a campaign in attempts to bring the program into the permanent WRRC budget.
“If we are claiming to be such a safe campus, then we shouldn’t be cutting programs that are integral to that safety,” said Allison Tanner, commissioner for the Gender and Sexuality Commission (GASC).
Student organizers emphasize the importance of this program in terms of safety for women, and say that it would be a major loss to campus if cut.
“The GE program is vital to the safety of over half of the students here and provides its students with the tools to affect long-term changes in this system of violence,” Davalos said. “Cutting the GE program puts the safety of women at risk, and this is an unacceptable sacrifice.“
An ASUCD resolution was brought to the senate Thursday night, but had not been voted on by press time. GASC unofficially saw the urgent resolution Tuesday and supported it. Student organizers will also attempt to meet with Fred Wood, vice chancellor of student affairs and present a petition.
UC Davis has a high reporting rate of sexual assaults, Evans said. This comes directly as a result of women feeling comfortable enough on campus to speak out against violence, Evans said.
“The [GE] program has helped women feel safer on campus and has helped connect students, faculty and staff to the resources available on campus for women,” she said.
WRRC is putting on a production of The Vagina Monologues on Feb. 27 and 28 with proceeds going towards a workshop to continue to prevent violence against women, Evans said.
An informational workshop for students interested in helping stop the GE program from being cut will be held Jan. 30 in the Smith Room in the Memorial Union at 12:30 p.m..
For more information go to wrrc.ucdavis.edu.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at email@example.com.