History of the Women’s Center

Women's Center Sign
Women's Center Lounge
The Center 005
Invite 40th

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. The Women's Center evolved to include any student parent as well as those returning to school who had taken a break from their education.

As the decade continued, 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. In 1999, students demanded a separate space to gather and work collaboratively on issues of equity and access and the Queer Resource Center was born. In response to student activism, the name of the LGBT center was changed to the Resource Center for Sexual Diversity (RCSGD) and in 2018, the RCSGD became a separate unit within the Division of Student Affairs.

Lastly in the growth and evolution of the Women's Center, 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. Since its inception, interpersonal violence issues have naturally found a space of service and activism in the Women's Center and continue in the WGSE department to this day.

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!

Now, as we move through our fifth decade at UCSB, the Women's Center is more relevant than ever as the community seeks places to discuss, provoke, and ask difficult questions. The Women's Center is a place of calm and activism, a place of research and idealization, and ultimately a space to explore your place within our society.