The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, a subsidiary office within the Division of Student Life, expects to soon change the name and administrative structure of its Women’s Resource Center (WRC). These changes are anticipated to come through a process of organizational restructuring in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which has just this year acquired administrative control over the formerly unaffiliated WRC.
Operated by graduate and undergraduate student employees, as well as university administration in the Division of Student Life, the WRC, Multicultural Student Center (MSC) and Rainbow Resource Center (RRC) are together organized and controlled under the auspices of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The latter two of the three centers – the MSC and the RRC — serve primarily as social spaces for UMaine students. The spaces mostly attract students with ethnically diverse backgrounds and students who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum, but they are open to all students in the UMaine community. The spaces offer a variety of educational events that are intended to foster a welcoming environment and provide visitors with a sense of belonging and fellowship.
In a conversation with the Maine Campus about the WRC, Anila Karunakar, the university’s director of diversity and inclusion, explained that the WRC has not yet decided on its new name if a change is in fact to occur. However, she added that meetings have been scheduled between herself and the center’s student employees, and that she expects the matter to be resolved before the weekend.
Remus Anderson, a student employee, and one of the WRC’s co-directors, commented on the changes which have affected UMaine’s WRC over the last two decades.
“The center existed in the ‘90s as a part of the WGS [Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies] Department before becoming defunded and later brought back in 2016,” Anderson said.
When asked whether the WRC is associated with either the university’s Feminist Collective or Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, Anderson responded: “We are no longer directly tied to the Feminist Collective or the WGS Department but we do partner with them from time to time.”
“The Women’s Resource Center is a valued member of the UMaine community and the Division of Student Life,” Robert Dana, vice president for student life and dean of students, told the Maine Campus. “We have recently welcomed our new director to run the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Anila Karunakar, who oversees the running of the three centers. Anila uses her skills to develop student leaders in the Women’s Resource Center, the Rainbow Resource Center, and the Multicultural Student Center to create [a] stronger community that is inclusive and student-focused. The Women’s Resource Center is run by passionate work-study students who actively promote education around feminism and body positivity through programming in the center. We are thrilled that the WRC is committed in our endeavors to contribute to a more inclusive and student-friendly campus.”
Although administrators within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are in the process of restructuring the WRC, neither of the office’s other two subsidiaries, the Multicultural and Rainbow Resource Centers, nor their upcoming event program schedules, are expected to be altered in any way.
The MSC’s next program, which is set for noon on Wednesday, Oct. 17 in Room 312 of the Memorial Union, will address the concept of cultural appropriation and its abundance in modern American society, while the RRC will separately be celebrating Coming Out Week from Monday, Oct. 7, until Friday Oct. 11, a date which has been designated as National Coming Out Day. At least three events have been scheduled for each day from Monday through Thursday by the RRC, beginning with Monday’s flag-raising ceremony at noon on the university Mall.
Both the Women’s Resource Center and Rainbow Resource Center can be found on the Memorial Union’s second-floor corridor, in Rooms 227 and 224, respectively. The Multicultural Center and the Office of the Director of Diversity and Inclusion are located on the third floor in the adjacent Rooms 310 and 312.