When the UA Women's Resource Center (WRC) requested new university funding last spring, President Robert Shelton denied the proposal due to the tight budget. As a result, the organization continues to operate on what little funds the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) have provided. Malia Uhatafe, co-director of the WRC, along with a staff of interns, is working hard to resubmit the proposal--and the WRC hopes to gather 5,000 signatures by Dec. 1 to be submitted along with it. The WRC wants $150,000 in annual funding and claims that the average Pacific-10 Conference school gives $200,000 in funding to women's resource centers.

What kind of budget does the WRC have to work with this year?

We have $7,000 from ASUA, and that's for the entire academic year. We also have a $16,000 grant for the Safewalk program.

So you're looking at a $23,000 budget this academic year.

One of our interns applied for a Corporate Partners Grant (from the UA Student Union's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership), and we've received about $450. That went toward our Breast Party supplies. We also have a grant-writing committee where our interns are working on getting additional grants.

What sort of recent action has the WRC taken to overcome last year's funding refusal?

We have started a petition this semester to increase awareness of our situation on and off campus. We are in need of a paid director, paid staff and increased funding.

Tell me how the UA's WRC compares to other universities nationwide.

Of all the Pac-10 schools, only one university, Arizona State University, does not have a women's center. While we have managed to sustain ours, it's entirely student-run. Also, the square-footage of other centers is about 15,000 square feet. The UA's WRC is substantially smaller--about 200 square feet.

Tell me about some of the projects that the WRC hosts.

We have four continuous strands of programming. The first is Safewalk. We provide nightly escorts for students, staff and faculty from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Our next strand is self-defense: We offer free self-defense classes to students and females within the Tucson community. We had our first one (earlier this month), and we have one coming up in November. This past event was very successful. Next is our film series: The WRC shows a film that pertains to our mission statement at the Gallagher Theater, in the student union, every first and third Wednesday of the month for the entire academic year. Our fourth strand of programming is sex-education. We offer sex-ed workshops to students and other organizations in an effort to educate about healthy intercourse.

What other organizations do you team up with?

With the self-defense workshops, we work with OASIS (an educational "organization designed to enhance the quality of life for mature adults"), and with sex education, we work with Planned Parenthood. Those are just a few of the organizations we work with throughout the academic year. We also hold individual events like our famous Breast Party. It's a love-your-body event. We do an event for Roe v. Wade's anniversary, which is in January. We usually host an event for each different calendar month and really focus on Women's History Month in March. We also host Take Back the Night in April.

Tell me about Take Back the Night.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We have a mini-fair at the university, and we talk about what's going on. It's a really fun, memorable night for individuals to gather and talk about what's going on in terms of the subject. After that, we march to a park to meet with other community members who are holding Take Back the Night.

What's the Breast Party?

We just had a breast party this past Wednesday (Oct. 8). We had about 60 women come, and they created breast molds. We want to show that there is no such thing as a perfect body. Everyone is beautiful; everyone is perfect in their own way. It breaks the stereotype of how females should look.

Does that correlate with breast-cancer awareness?

The breast party that we had was in celebration of (National) Breast Cancer (Awareness Month), which is this month. This month, we have four events.

About The Author

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Tucson Weekly

Best of Tucson Weekly

Tucson Weekly