The Women’s Resource Center is continuing to partner with outside organizations to provide services to women and those in need.
The WRC and Support the Girls Southern Utah are coming together to offer free bras and hygiene products to faculty, staff and students on campus. The service began Sept. 5 and will continue to run through Dec. 8.
Donna Walter, a senior psychology major from Washington, helps maintain the WRC and is employed through work study. Her goal is to make the WRC a welcoming and safe environment for any in need, regardless of age, background and even gender, she said.
“I’ve had fun decorating [the office] so it feels homey and comfortable to students,” Walter said. “It’s [important] for students to feel like they can relax and take some time out of their schedule and have somebody to listen to them.”
Walter said the team believed only two or three girls per semester would take advantage of the service provided through the partnership, but she has seen two to three girls per week.
“This program allows us to give women on campus the option to use their funds on groceries and those types of things instead of feminine hygiene products and bras,” Walter said. “We can help them budget better. Bras are expensive, and it’s hard to decide whether it’s more important to eat or feel comfortable.”
Dr. Florence Bacabac is an associate professor of English and the WRC director. Bacabac has been working since 2012 to establish a safe place and viable resources for women.
Bacabac stresses the importance of female hygiene and comfort when studying in college.
“[These purchases are] extra baggage if you don’t have the financial means,” Bacabac said. “The [WRC’s] main focus is helping women reach their academic and professional goals. We just want to alleviate the stress so [women] can focus on their schooling.”
Support the Girls Southern Utah was founded by Dixie State University alumna Emily Havens in January of 2016. While working on a piece for the Spectrum, Havens learned of the resources made possible through Support the Girls and found there was no chapter for Southern Utah.
“[This service] is not just for homeless women or women who are in dire need, it’s for [women] and anything that will make them feel more comfortable about themselves,” Havens said. “Sometimes you get super poor [in college, and] you don’t know how you’re going to afford some things.”
Plans for this service began just before the start of the fall semester. Havens contacted Bacabac and explained the need many women have for the service.
“It’s restoring dignity to women in a small way but [also] such a big way,” Havens said. “Nobody who’s never had to walk around without having the option to wear a bra or not knows how uncomfortable and [distressing] it can be.”
Support the Girls Southern Utah has drives for bras all year round. In July, the chapter donated bras to FLDS women, and currently the organization is working to donate bras and feminine hygiene products to those affected by the hurricanes and earthquakes all over the nation.
The WRC has also partnered with the DOVE Advocacy Service to provide survivors of sexual assault the ability to meet with a certified advocates in a private setting every Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. This partnership began Sept. 6 and will run through Dec. 6. Walter said this service is not just for women.
“We don’t want anyone to think we’re discriminating [against them],” Walter said. “We are a resource for women, but we can offer [aid] and support to anyone.”
The resource center is also responsible for updates around campus, such as the lactation rooms for student mothers within the Taylor Health Sciences and Holland Centennial Commons buildings. Scholarships, internship opportunities and awards are posted frequently on the center’s website to help women maintain their student status.
“It’s important to make women aware of things available for them on campus and helping them stay excited about their [futures] and enjoying [DSU] while they’re here,” Walter said. “We want to help women on campus stay in college, but if they have to leave, we also want them to know that they will always be welcome back when they are ready. Things happen.”
In recent years, the WRC has been awarded grants to undertake projects such as the Body Image Literacy Campaign, and award hard-working women on campus with resources such as scholarships through the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and laptops donated by private donors. The WRC is actively working to provide day care for student parents, as it has been one of the most highly mentioned services.
Support the Girls Southern Utah and the WRC are accepting donations of new or gently worn bras and unopened packs of feminine hygiene products until Dec. 8. Anyone wanting to give to this cause can drop their donations off at the WRC office located in room 489 in the Holland Centennial Commons Building. Students who cannot find their size when taking advantage of this service are still able to receive bras. Havens reaches out to other chapters to obtain their sizes.
“Our community has donated all of [the bras] I’ve collected, maybe minus about 200,” Havens said. “It’s been pretty amazing.”