Scheduled to open this coming fall, the new Resource Center is intended to serve Wesleyan students who feel themselves to be at risk, whether because of specific incidents on campus or from the persistent effects of historic discrimination or underrepresentation. The February report of the Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee envisions the space as “a central location where students, faculty, and staff can engage in dialogue, academic enrichment, healing, organization, and solidarity.”
Expanding on the purpose of the center, the report continued: “The Center will help to meet the basic needs of students who are most vulnerable, maintain awareness of matters related to intolerance and inaccessibility, and work collectively to eliminate the root causes of injustice and inequity on campus. The Center will engage and support students, faculty, and staff who are interested in social justice programming, advocacy, and education, serving as a resource and providing a safe environment for underrepresented students and allies to discuss, learn, organize, and lead.”
The report expressed the intention that the Resource Center will demonstrate how equity and inclusion benefit everyone on campus and that the work of the Center will have “a positive impact on the sense of togetherness, unity, and belonging experienced by members of the Wesleyan community.”
Ainsley Eakins ’18, who served on the steering committee, says that plans for the Resource Center “leave a lot of room for growth,” with ample opportunity for the community to shape its future. She is optimistic about the impact the Resource Center will have and says the process of formulating a plan has helped to contribute to a more positive campus dialogue. “Students are starting to feel heard,” she says.
Evelysse Vargas ’17, also on the steering committee, said her hope is that the Resource Center will be “robust and sustainable.
“There are so many great things going on, but it’s hard to coordinate without a central organization, and getting things done can be more taxing than it needs to be,” she adds. “The Center can bring people together through conversation. I hope to come back after graduation at some point and see students who feel fully supported on an institutional level.”
The steering committe—whose members also include Antonio Farias (staff), Janice Naegele (professor and vice chair of the faculty), Irma González (trustee and chair of the Board’s Campus Affairs committee), and Rebecca Hutman ’17 (WSA president)—called for more community feedback as ideas are turned into a living resource—and for a fitting name.