The UMBC Women’s Center is hosting multiple events this semester related to the current political climate in the United States. These events are aimed at supporting women and other groups in tumultuous times, when students may feel uncertain or threatened.
The mission of the Women’s Center at UMBC is to “support student success and community well-being for women and marginalized people.” The Women’s Center, along with Student Life’s Mosaic: Center for Culture and Diversity, holds the annual Critical Social Justice Week in the fall, which is centered around a different, overarching theme every year (for instance, last year’s theme was “Home”).
The Women’s Center has already organized several events related to current events in the United States. Recent events held earlier this month included a roundtable discussion on women in politics and a discussion with the UMBC police about hate speech, protected speech and knowing one’s rights.
The former event is part of the Women’s Center’s spring roundtable series, “Underrepresentation of women in…” and involved a discussion on how Hillary Clinton’s presidential loss may impact the possibility of women running for president in the future. It featured Lisa Vetter, Kayla Smith and Ingrid Parker as speakers.
The latter event involved discussions around speech and actions that could be viewed as discriminatory or hateful. Campus police discussed which speech and actions are protected at UMBC, as well as which are considered “hate crimes” or “acts of intolerance.” The Women’s Center has offered to connect students to campus police for more information on this topic.
Upcoming events held by the Women’s Center include a lecture called, “Women’s Rights as Human Rights in the Age of Trump,” featuring author and social justice activist Loretta Ross. This event is taking place on Wednesday, March 8, from 6-8 p.m.
Around the time of this event, the theme for the Fall 2017 Critical Social Justice Week will be announced, according to Women’s Center staff members Jess Myers and Amelia Meman. The Women’s Center is already working on this endeavor, planning out the logistics for the week. Last semester’s week included a keynote speaker and a round table discussion.
In addition to more politically centered events, the Women’s Center holds regular discussion-based programs and workshops with various purposes throughout the semester. Its main discussion groups are the Returning Women Student Scholars Program, Between Women, Women of Color Coalition and Spectrum, which all serve different groups of women on campus. The Returning Women Scholars program is designed for women students 25+ at UMBC and holds monthly meetings and workshops. The other three groups are designed for women to share their stories and experiences and are more confidential.
The Women’s Center also frequently hosts a Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence Workshop, which trains faculty, staff and students to effectively respond to and support students who have been impacted by sexual violence. The goal is to create a supportive environment and help provide healing for survivors of sexual assault.
The Women’s Center welcomes all who are able to to come to their events. Coming soon are the second and third round table discussions, both of which will focus on the issue of under representation of women within different sectors.
More events can be found online on the Women’s Center myUMBC group, which is being updated continuously with more information.