For the past two years, the UC Santa Cruz Women’s Center has operated through interim directors. After efforts to fill the position, the Resource Centers’ search committee appointed Colleen Rice as the permanent director. She assumed the role on Feb. 25.
Rice views her new position as a privilege and looks forward to helping students and staff through it.
“Through my own experiences both personally and academically, I developed this passion for women’s issues,” Rice said. “Now to be in a role where I can advocate for women’s needs, for so many different intersections of identity, […] I can help break down these barriers. I want to use my privilege to help give a seat at the table to students and my staff, that may have not been provided to them before.”
Prior to her appointment, Rice worked at Sonoma State University as program coordinator for the Center for Transfer and Transition, where she supervised both first- and second-year learning courses facilitated by peer mentors. The courses aided students transitioning from high school to college, and from lower division coursework to upper division coursework.
Humanities faculty members Helene Moglen and Marge Frantz helped found the Women’s Center, located at the base of campus in the Cardiff House, in 1985. The Women’s Center, being the first of the Resource Centers, was established the vision of integrating gender equality and empowerment in academia and Santa Cruz. The Women’s Center has provided a safe space for femme and female- identifying students since its founding. Rice and her staff are responsible for upkeeping this empowering mission.
As director, Rice will be in charge of organizing the center’s programs and advocating for female-identified students on campus through these programs. Within her new role, Rice aspires to restrengthen the Women’s Center’s relationship with campus and Santa Cruz.
“I want there to be a lot more collaborations with campus partners, faculty and the Feminist Studies program,” Rice said. “That’s how this center began in 1985. […] Rebuilding and breathing life back into those relationships is what I aspire to do.”
With the mission of affirming female dignity and diversity in mind, the Women’s Center hosts both quarter-long and annual programs dedicated to reimagining and improving feminism throughout campus and the city.
“The mission of the Women’s Center is to create a space where people feel safe, and that they feel they can learn and share their stories,” Rice said. “It is also a place where we can empower female-identifying students and allies to make a difference to continue this progress […] but with a special focus on the intersection of feminism, not just the #whitefeminisim.”
As one of the six centers under the UCSC Resource Centers — alongisde four ethnic resource centers and the Cantú Queer Center — the Women’s Center often works with other campus staff members.
Travis Becker, director of the Cantú, expressed his excitement to see the director position filled by Rice.
“The Cantú and other resource centers are excited for the Women’s Center to have a full-time director,” Becker said. “Women and femme on our campus deserve to have that center fully-staffed. I am excited about the potential opportunity to do more programming specifically for trans women and femme […] between the Women’s Center and the Cantú.”
Rice looks forward to revitalizing the Women’s Center to be a safe and welcoming place for students throughout their college experience.
“I really want the Women’s Center to be a place that isn’t just the one that’s at the base of campus,” Rice said. “I want it to be a place where [students] want to call their home, their spot. I want the center to be a space that enriches them and provides them with not only lasting memories, but also knowledge and affirmation for the time they spend here.”