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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Women’s Resource Center Closes, U Announces ‘structural changes’ to Cultural Centers

On Thursday, the University of Utah announced the Center for Student Access and Resources and the Center for Cultural and Community Engagement as the hubs for the reintegration of cultural centers across campus.
The+Block+U+on+the+University+of+Utah+campus+in+Salt+Lake+City.+%28Courtesy+of+the+University+of+Utah%29
The Block U on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City. (Courtesy of the University of Utah)

 

The University of Utah’s Women’s Resource Center, which advocated for campus childcare, offered support groups for women of color, provided counseling services and established several scholarships, is closing after 53 years of service, as a result of Utah’s anti-DEI law set to go into effect on July 1. 

The formal announcement came on an Instagram post from the WRC on Thursday. 

“I am LIVID that the same legislature who passes vile anti-trans bills under the guise of ‘protecting women’ is also responsible for the closure of this life-saving resource.” An Instagram comment under the post reads. “Sick sick sick.”

In January, Utah passed a law that prohibits people from using public bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Kirstin Maanum was the director of the WRC. She said the loss of the center as a “home base” for students is sad.

“I think the sense of community is what is being lost,” Maanum said in an email interview. “Many students reflect back to us that they wish they would have found us earlier, but once they did, they utilized our space or resources until they graduated.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald announced structural changes to campus cultural centers on Thursday. The WRC, the Black Cultural Center and the LGBT Resource Center, which announced its closure Tuesday, will be integrated into a new Center for Student Access and Resources.

But only “support services that are allowed under the law” will be incorporated into this new center, according to a Student Affairs statement

Maanum said the program coordinator for the WRC will move to the Community & Cultural Engagement Center where “she will be involved with creating cultural education programs, planning celebrations during heritage weeks and months, and offering awareness programs that are available to the entire campus community.”

She added the Center for Student Access and Resources will now house resources the WRC offers to students including scholarships, cohort programs and other supportive programs.

“The cultural and community engagement functions of the three centers will be incorporated into the Center for Cultural and Community Engagement,” the statement said. 

The Center for Cultural and Community Engagement is still pending approval from the Utah Board of Higher Education. It will focus on “cultural education, celebration, engagement, and awareness about all multicultural identities.”

The Center for Student Access and Resources, the second new organizational change, will “[centralize] student resources like scholarship cohort coordination and support services.”

The American Indian Resource Center is being renamed the “Center for Native Excellence and Tribal Engagement” and will continue to work with tribal nations. 

“The Black Cultural Center building will continue to operate as a space for broader community engagement.” The statement said. 

“As we’ve evaluated how best to comply with the legislation, I want to be clear that we’ve faced very difficult decisions,” McDonald said in an @theU article. “The law and subsequent guidance require a foundational change in how we approach student support, and we will follow the law. This isn’t about changing the words we use; we’re changing how we approach the work.”

The WRC is hosting a farewell at TF Brewing on June 28.

 

[email protected]

@vanessamwrites

 

This story is breaking and may be updated. 

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About the Contributor
Vanessa Hudson
Vanessa Hudson, Editor in Chief
Vanessa is from Grand Junction, Colorado. She's a junior majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in modern dance and political science. She is passionate about what she reports on, and she usually winds up writing about local politics and issues. When Vanessa isn't writing, you can find her trying out some new choreography, listening to public radio or watching Marvel and Star Wars movies.

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