Photo Credits: QUINN SPOONER / AGGIE
Each center has initiatives to support different marginalized communities
UC Davis is an undeniably diverse campus, as reports like the UC Davis Student Profile show. That is why the university has many ways to uplift the varied identities of the students who study at the university.
The most visible form that these efforts take is the collection of Community Retention and Resource Centers on campus. These five centers focus on many different aspects of the individual, including race, ethnicity, personal interests, academics, sexuality and gender.
The five centers that make up this network are the Center for Student Involvement (CSI); the Cross Cultural Center (CCC); the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, and Intersex (LGBTQIA) Resource Center; the Women’s Resources and Research Center (WRRC) and the Student Resource and Retention Center (SRRC).
Three of these centers, the CCC, the LGBTQIA Resource Center and the SRRC, are in the Student Community Center. The WRRC is in North Hall while the CSI is on the fourth floor of the Memorial Union.
The CSI is the on-campus hub for everything that has to do with registered student organizations, or RSOs. Most any club that a student can become a member of is an RSO. There are over 700 RSOs at UC Davis, falling into varied categories such as advocacy, political, religious, community service, health and more. Students can browse the list of student organizations on the AggieLife website, run by CSI.
In addition to just browsing the long list, though, there is also an “Involvement Calculator” offered by CSI to help students find a club that fits their interests.
“On the Involvement Calculator you tell us a little bit about yourself (identities, career goals, major, hobbies, etc.) and we send you back a custom list of RSO to consider joining,” said Jaime Allen, a leadership development and outreach specialist for CSI, via email. “It is one way CSI can help you find the right RSO to join from the hundreds on campus. After you get your list, you can come in and meet with one of our Involvement Mentors to talk more about the RSOs or get help reaching out to help to learn how to join.”
The CCC traces its roots back to a hunger strike that took place in 1990 on the steps of Mrak Hall, where students presented three demands. They wanted an investigation into alleged racism in the Spanish department, the establishment of an on-campus ethnic and cultural center and increased full-time faculty in the ethnic studies departments. After the six day strike, the activists and the university reached an agreement and the CCC opened in 1992.
The CCC has six values that guide its work in the community: advocacy; cultural competency; academic excellence, research and education; identity exploration and leadership development. This is done through the many programs that the CCC puts on each year, such as culture days like Black Family Day, La Gran Tardeada, the Powwow and the Asian American and Pacific Islander Night Market. The CCC also does other programming around things like race and ethnicity and disability activism, while also hosting retreats for campus communities.
The LGBTQIA Resource Center’s mission is to “provide an open, safe, inclusive space and community that is committed to challenging sexism, cissexism/trans oppression/transmisogyny, heterosexism, monosexism, and allosexism. We recognize that this work requires a continued process of understanding and dismantling all forms of oppression.”
Beyond just this, the center provides numerous physical resources to students: a library, condoms and other sexual health supplies, a gender-affirmation clothing closet, a small food pantry and menstrual products. The center also provides something essential to self-expression: a space.
“We provide space for folks to consistently study, have student organization meetings for events — I think that’s a huge piece on a day-to-day basis,” said Crystal Knight, the student services coordinator at the LGBTQIA Resource Center. “We [also] have career staff and scholar staff that can help with a number of issues related to LGBTQIA identity and help refer people to additional resources.”
The center also puts on community based programing, like Pride Month in May, Queer Leadership Retreat in January and other workshops and events throughout the year. QLR is designed to be a place for students to make friends and become a bigger part of the LGBTQIA community at UC Davis.
“[QLR] is one of those moments throughout the year that I consistently refer to for what beautiful, supportive community looks like,” Knight said.
The WRRC seeks to “promote gender equity and social justice.” This work focuses on supporting “womxn, transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive individuals.”
The WRRC traces its roots to student activism in the 1970s, with the center opening in 1972 because of the efforts of the Women’s Liberation UCD student organization.
Along with the LGBTQIA Resource Center, the WRRC is a confidential resource for those who have experienced gender-based violence, including sexual harassment or assault. These two centers do not have to make reports to the university when a community member comes in to talk about their experiences around sexual violence. They can help with referrals to other places on campus to get more support.
Many other resources are offered by the WRRC, including a library, study space, sexual health supplies, menstrual supplies and a Student Parent Closet. The Student Parent Closet “provides free diapers, wipes, nursing pads, and other supplies for parenting and caregiving students at UC Davis,” and is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon. One can contact the center to set up an alternative time to get things from the closet.
While all CRRCs focus on student leadership, the SRRC’s model focuses on student-initiated and student-led community building. The SRRC’s mission is to stand for educational equality.
“Our student-run and student-initiated programs created by students for students foster holistic, academic and personal development while raising political and cultural awareness for youth and college students,” its mission statement says. “We educate, engage, and empower students to act as dynamic leaders for their communities so that we can all transform knowledge into action.”
One way that this student-run focus is clear is its organizing model. The SRRC is overseen by the 10 person Recruitment & Retention Organizing Committee, comprised mostly of undergraduate students.
The SRRC’s work focuses around seven student-led community programs.
African Diaspora Cultivating Education, or ACE, “seeks to create a supportive environment that encourages personal development, cultural awareness, and academic success through programming, retreats, and conferences that inform and empower students within the African Diaspora.”
The American Indian Recruitment and Retention, or AIRR, program “addresses the unique needs of the American Indian, Indigenous, and First Nations identifying student population at UC Davis […] [seeking] to create a space where current and future students can access resources and support services.”
Founded in 1987, BRIDGE serves the Pilipinx community. Its “goal is to empower students to transform this educational system and validate the complexity of the Filipinx culture through our many services and events.”
Collective focuses on transfer and non-traditional student empowerment. Its three main programmatic focuses are transfer outreach, retention and campus visits.
“Dedicated to empowering and retaining historically underrepresented graduate and professional students,” the Graduate Academic Achievement and Advocacy Program, or GAAAP, “is the first UC-based, student-initiated, student-run recruitment and retention program for graduate students.”
Southeast Asians Furthering Education, or SAFE, targets its work at those who identify as Southeast Asian and Southeast Asian American, centering “hxstories* and experiences tied to the Vietnam War, Khmer Rouge, the Secret War, and Pathet Lao.”
The seventh program the SRRC offers is S.O.L. y L.U.N.A (formerly known as Yik’al Kuyum), which focuses on providing resources to retain Chicanx and Latinx students in higher education.
Written by: Kenton Goldsby — firstname.lastname@example.org