The Women’s Resource Center offers support, advocacy

Since its inception, the University of New Mexico Women’s Resource Center has worked tirelessly to create a space that allows individuals to feel less alone on UNM’s busy campus and continues to adapt to the needs of all students. The WRC prides itself on accessibility and inclusion, in addition to continually evolving to better serve UNM students.

One of the most well-known and unique services provided by the center is confidential advocacy, according to Michelle Dugan, campus attorney at the WRC.

“If a student comes to tell us about something related to domestic violence, sexual assault, bullying, bullying, we don’t need to report that student’s name. We can help them determine next steps, get help, access resources, and we don’t have to report their identity to the University. It’s unique,” ​​Dugan said.

The WRC also offers other services as part of their mental health collaboration, including social work and free tips, staff and students. The counseling service, overseen by Ivette Acevedo-Weatherholtz and staffed by several graduate student counselors, will continue to expand this year in partnership with El Centro de la Raza and will be offered in Spanish in addition to English, according to WRC acting director Áine McCarthy.

Although UNM does not have a social work program, social worker and program specialist Miquela Ortiz-Upston oversees a team of graduate student interns from Highlands and New Mexico State University who are accessible to UNM students. This team assists with case management, navigating resources, applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, obtaining public benefits such as food stamps, electronic transfer of benefits, Medicaid and help with child care, according to McCarthy.

Dugan noted the importance of the social work team, as they are able to support students through a variety of processes.

“Maybe people are looking for housing options…opening a bank account, checking if they want a credit card, applying for health insurance, finding a doctor…checking why disability benefits don’t show up the way they do anymore. were,” Dugan said.

The WRC is also home to the Office of Violence Against Women’s UNM Campus Grant. This grant helped fund the work of the Coordinated Community Response Team whose work involves expanding prevention education on campus regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, and dating violence, according to McCarthy.

With so many resources available to students, McCarthy and Dugan underlined the WRC’s commitment to centering students by listening to their feedback, needs and ideas for the future. If a student would like to provide feedback, Dugan suggests joining the Coordinated Community Response Team’s Student Advisory Council.

“[It’s] a band made up of students because we don’t want to do programming or update programming without student input,” Dugan said.

Although the WRC often acts as a hub of resources for people in crisis, staff members at the center strive every day to inspire community, joy and a sense of belonging among those who want it and need it. According to administrative assistant Gisell Cereceres, one of the fun initiatives created by the staff is called “crafternoons”, which give students the opportunity to build community, listen and be listened to while participating in a fun activity.

“We try to make this place a home for the students and anyone who comes in… Sometimes people come in and they just need to be listened to,” Cereceres said.

On a day-to-day basis, the center also provides students with free printing, a family-friendly study space and computer lab, gender- and mobility-accessible washrooms, lactation rooms, personal care products and free period tickets, coffee and tea, and more.

For more information on the Women’s Resource Center, you can visit their website or follow them on Instagram @unm_wrc.

Sierra Martinez is a freelance journalist at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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