The UCSB Women, Gender, and Sexual Equity department was established over 40 years ago as the Women’s Center. Its goal was to provide a place for women students, faculty, and staff to be safe, find resources that would support them, and for common issues and needs to be discussed.
As women in higher education became more present, there was a specific need to work with women who were starting their college education after having children—thus the Non-Traditional student services area began to develop. At the time, it was a “student mothers” support area and focused on support systems for breastfeeding, managing a home and school responsibilities, and community building. It evolved to include any student parent as well as those returning to school who had taken a break from their education.
In addition, when there was an identified need on campus to meet the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students, the Women’s Center was identified as the office best prepared to support the community and, thus, LGBT support came under the umbrella of the Women’s Center.
And lastly, the Campus Advocacy Resources and Education (CARE) program, which was known as the Rape Prevention Education Program until their name change in 2013, became part of the Women’s Center after being part of the Police Department in 1976/1977. Interpersonal violence issues have long been seen as a gender-based concern and the Women’s Center was a natural home for this service area.
In 2012, the Women’s Center underwent an evaluation and eventual name change to bring equity to the service areas within the department. No longer were there only women’s services offered through the Women’s Center, but to be more inclusive of the work occurring, the name changed to Women, Gender, and Sexual Equity. The WGSE has only grown from there!