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Davis

Davis, California

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Guest opinion: Navreet Dhaliwal

I’ve grown up reading science fiction, staying up late at night as a teenager entrusting in confidants such as Asimov and Bradbury to whisk me away to Bantam and Penguin fields as an escape from the various family turmoils that were all too frequent during my childhood. I daydreamed of rocketmen and galaxies, and yes, when I discovered Star Trek, Lieutenant Uhura.

While others collected Pokémon cards and chased (or more aptly put as I look back on it now, chastised) girls, I pined over the feelings of physicality upon grasping at the bodies of literature. I stepped into libraries as if they were distant planets – planets that demanded my exploration of them.

I’ve always felt as if I had a slightly different and more personal view of women because of this; a view shared by Bradbury, who said, “The women in my life have all been librarians, English teachers or booksellers. If they couldn’t speak pidgin Tolstoy, articulate Henry James or give me directions to Usher or Ox, it was a no go. I have always longed for education, and pillow talk’s the best.”

It took me 14 years to realize that heroes are more than the individuals that exist in sci-fi and my deepest fantasies; they walk amongst us. They exist in a nook often unspoken and unheard of within this campus.

The Joy Fergoda Library in the Women’s Resource and Research Center is more than a book depository; it is a real life Justice League. A consortium of like-minded individuals passionately dedicated to an awareness and preservation of female culture. However, as is the case with Justice in all its avenues, it is in perpetual state of danger and threat.

The library, which boosts well over 12,000 books on a plethora of subjects pertaining to women and gender, faces an uncertainty as to its funding source. It is currently under review with a final decision to be made by June 30, when the current funding runs out. My heart sinks at the sheer thought that someone could take my Batcave away from me.

I transferred to UC Davis for a number of reasons: a change of environment, hopes of rekindling a relationship doomed by the strains of distance, and to progress personally as well as intellectually. It is immensely daunting to find yourself in a new place, having to carve out a niche for yourself. For most, it takes months or years to find, but for me it was instantaneous. I remember walking into the Women’s Center Library with my volunteer application and extending my hand shakily towards the gracious and inviting Outreach Coordinator. I felt comfortable, and that is all that anyone really wants when they are in a new place. I cannot resist stopping into the center itself merely to smile back at the faces that greet me with warmth and appreciation for my interest in gender studies. The library though from day one became what it has always been to me; a sanctuary. It gave to me when all I wanted was to give to it; to thank it for years of making me comfortable with who I was, and for always simply being. I continue to volunteer there and arise on Friday mornings with a sense of excitement as I secure the chair opposite the warmhearted librarian, thane to the throne of bibliophilia – geeking out on literature and sharing tidbits of our past and future goals for ourselves.

My hope is that my experience with the women at the center and my emotional attachment to the library in particular will at the very least strike within you readers a sense of curiosity about the WRRC. If all you do is walk through the door and take a look around, I feel I have accomplished something; but what would be even more valuable to the Justice League and me would be for action to be taken. The beauty of activism is the numerous methods of expression one can use to show support for a cause.

The easiest way to save this library, or any library for that matter, is to utilize its resources. Save the Library Petitions are available in the WRRC, SRRC, LGBTRC and CCC, as well as on the WRRC’s website. Also, keep your eyes on the posters and flyers clinging to the porch of the center as you pass by for fundraisers and other event announcements.

I implore you to step down from the familiarity of your Apollo 11s and walk in foreign territory. Explore the shelves, let the aroma of the tea kettle fill your nostrils and warm yourself with the engineered efficiency that is central heating. Beyond this, I want you to toss your backpack to the ground, grab a chair and make yourself comfortable in what I often refer to as my fortress of solitude.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I respect your opinion; however, the goal of an institution of higher learning is just that – higher learning. The heart of any higher learning in an institution is it’s library. Moreover, there is nothing to say that breakthroughs in social science research do not help the university monetarily. I think it is a great tragedy to syphon funds from any entity such as this that is by no means exclusive only to women…but rather merely a resource for gender learning and educations, which we all can take something away from.

    A larger issue at hand, and perhaps a more effective one would be to focus on the current way the UC system handles money to begin with. Cutting corners by eliminating vital campus resources is a poor way of balancing the budget. I feel that if money is the primary concern of the UC system then 1) that is very disheartening and 2) the regents themselves examine critically the financial ramifications behind their spending for our longterm benefit.

    Also, I’d like to point out the fact that the author of this opinion is a male which allows for certain claims of discrimination or exclusion based upon gender even in the slightest at the WRRC to be considered invalid. I suggest you possibly take a tour of the WRRC before dubbing it unnecessary.

  2. On the contrary, I would like to disagree. The UC system currently has a $20 billion deficit. How useful is a women’s center library? Does it bring any income to Davis? No. It exists to indulge the lofty and self-righteous. The money to maintain the library can be diverted to the sciences such as “some expensive service”, the magnetic resonance scanner, whose patent development which can bring the university much needed income.

    Its existence is counterproductive. A library exclusively for women, sounds like a form of discrimination maybe?

  3. I was pleasantly surprised to find an article about saving something substantive on our campus. I am also somewhat disconcerted that this article was hidden/sandwiched between crummy confessional stories about Valentine’s Day, and a column advertising some expensive service the campus administration has unilaterally decided to be in cahoots with. It says alot about our editorial staff’s priorities, and lack of vision for newsworthy material.

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