Women's Resource Center

History

In late 1989 students, faculty, and staff began meeting to put ideas of a women's resource center into a concrete plan of action. Fresno State's Women's Resource Center officially opened in December 1990 as the result of the dedicated WRC organizing committee. The organizing committee consisted of students, faculty, staff, and community members who collectively saw a need for a designated space for women and women's issues on campus. While some wanted the WRC to be student-focused and egalitarian in its governance, in order to become a university recognized organization, the WRC established an advisory board with students, faculty, staff, and administrators along with a set of by-laws to govern the organization.

The WRC was initially run by student volunteers, but they and the Advisory Board saw a need for permanent professional staff. In August 1991 as a result of an $18,000 award from Associated Students, Incorporated (ASI), along with successful fundraisers, the first director, Francine Oputa, was hired and began working on a part-time basis. In addition to the start-up funds granted by ASI, The University Religious Center at Shaw and Jackson Avenues where the WRC was initially located donated $5,000 toward upgrading aspects of the facility. Donations and grants were also sought in order to get the center up and running.

The original purpose of the WRC as stated in the 1990 budget request was "to serve as a catalyst and advocate for the specific educational needs of women...to help students, and additionally faculty and staff women, to clarify and pursue academic, career, and personal needs and goals." Initial concerns that the WRC founders hoped to relieve with the WRC were issues re-entry students faced along with day care needs. The founders also wanted to provide networking and peer counseling opportunities for campus women. Programming in the first year included a body image course, a featured female poet, Violence Against Women Week events, self-defense classes, Women's Herstory Month events, a Maternal and Child Health Forum, diversity training, stress management, and more.  From the onset, the Women's Resource Center prioritized serving students, particularly women of color and other traditionally underrepresented groups.

The WRC resided in a number of locations throughout its 20+ year history. It was first located in the University Religious Center off campus at Shaw and Jackson Avenues. It moved on to campus to the Keats Building with the Special Services Unit which was under the direction of Arlene Bireline during the 1993/94 academic year. During the 1994/95 academic year the program was moved to the University Center where it resided for the next five years or so. It then moved to a more central campus location in the Center for Women and Culture in the Thomas Building. The suite is the former offices of the provost and vice-president for academic affairs. The WRC moved to this location in the summer of 2009 when the administrative offices were relocated to the 4th floor of the renovated library.

The Women's Resource Center utilized a number of program strategies to meet the similar, yet changing needs of students throughout the years. Some of these program strategies include the following: support/discussion groups, clubs, annual programs and events, co-sponsorship of campus-wide events, activism, community service, internships, volunteer opportunities, and more.

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