UMBC’s Women’s Center will once again host biweekly Tuesday meetings for the We Believe You Discussion Group at 4 p.m. throughout the 2022-2023 academic year. The discussion group is focused on creating a safe “space to center the experiences of survivors of sexual and power-based violence.”
Bri, the Program Coordinator of the Women’s Center, who preferred that The Retriever not refer to her by her last name, stated that “we cultivate a brave space in the Women’s Center, and specifically, there are different points of learning for everybody, but the good thing about the discussion group,” she added, “is that it doesn’t matter if you come to the first meeting or the last meeting, we start fresh every single time.”
Making sure that the students who attend are comfortable with sharing or just listening in was something that Bri emphasized as well. She added that the group goes over different coping skills, potential guest speakers, and support services on and off campus.
“Folks tend to see it as a healing space to know that they’re not alone, and that’s the biggest thing, you’re not alone,” Bri said.
First-year Ph.D. candidate in UMBC’s Human Services Psychology program and Assistant Director of the Women’s Center, Amelia Meman, added to Bri’s statement, saying, “I think what a lot of folks get out of it that we see in post-assessment typically is just the feeling of community. This is very validating and helps kind of nurture a level of belonging that can happen at UMBC.”
Bri hoped that students can identify supportive on-campus staff and services through this discussion group, whether that be within the Women’s Center or another department such as OEI and Integrated Health. Meman also stated that the group is becoming more focused on mental health and wellness, so some students are focusing on themselves more inwardly than seeking out resources.
The first Fall 2022 semester session of the We Believe You Discussion Group was on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. The group has been meeting continually since its creation in 2018.
Meman stated that it was initially a “student organization and it was student-led originally…both the discussion group, and then also a general body meeting, were more activist-heavy.”
However, due to burnout, loss of momentum and more in-depth topics, Meman stepped in as a co-facilitator, allowing the group to partner with and then later become a permanent part of the Women’s Center.
Currently, senior Social Work major Audrey Gatewood is training to co-facilitate the discussion group.
Gatewood stated that “we want students to get a feeling of catharsis out of the group that it can provide a point to pause in the week…to be present with yourself, to get feedback, to deal with personal challenges, and to move forward in growth.”
The next We Believe Discussion group meeting is on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, which everyone is welcome to join.
If students cannot make it to the meetings, they can make appointments with the Women’s Center staff for one-on-one sessions. Students can contact the Women’s Center at email@example.com with further questions or concerns. Following the Women’s Center on myUMBC can also help students stay informed about upcoming events and information.
“I think that a lot of people have imagined that this space is only for women and that is not the case. We’re really centering on people of all genders, especially folks who experience marginalization so women and non-binary folks as well,” Meman stated, displaying the welcoming environment that the center has to offer.