Without any announcement from the university, the WoMen’s Center at Cal State Fullerton has been closed since December, according to several former employees. What once existed as a one-stop resource for women’s services on campus is now split among several programs of the Diversity Initiative and Resource Center, known as DIRC.
Sofie Leon, director of the Diversity Initiative and Resource Center, said not all WoMen’s Center services will be provided by the Diversity Resource Centers.
“We are helping with the transition by helping with some of the women-focused programs and again, intersectionally with the spaces we have at DIRC. Some of the other services aren’t in DIRC, they haven’t moved anywhere else,” Leon said.
Myra Martinez, a communications student and former social media student assistant for the WoMen’s Center, said the university continues to advertise the center and has not announced its closure.
“It’s always in the programs; it’s still touted as a resource on campus even though it doesn’t exist,” Martinez said.
Martinez said she speculated that the center was closed due to a lack of funding and concerns about a lack of students using it.
A sign on the door to the former WoMen’s Center site at Steven G. Mihaylo Hall stated that due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was open by appointment only.
Martha Enciso, associate vice president of student affairs, said the WoMen’s Center space is closed, but female students will be able to access women’s program resources within the Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers, known as name of DIRC.
“The resources have been and have not stopped. They continue to be offered to students. So the resources that go on and on in DIRC are intersectional women’s programming,” Enciso said. “It is integrated into each of the spaces.”
Enciso said WoMen’s Center staff had to be reassigned due to labor shortages caused by COVID-19. She added that they were also unable to announce the changes due to lack of staff.
“We try to convey all the information and resources to the students as well as possible. But again, the biggest problem, unfortunately, due to the pandemic, has been the lack of staff. So we’re doing our best,” Enciso said.
Martinez added that many of the center’s resources have been transferred to other departments on campus.
“A lot of our resources have been transferred to other departments such as the violence prevention program, the campus attorney, all of that has been transferred to the health and wellness center, which doesn’t even not promoting these resources or events like the women’s center has done in the past,” Martinez said.
Mirella Monroy, a graduate student and former WoMen’s Center student assistant, said there have been talks of closing the WoMen’s Center for more than two years.
Encisco said the space is still used for the adult reintegration program, which shares a room with the women’s center.
Monroy said that WoMen’s Center employees were unaware of what was going to happen and that Tonantzin Oseguera, the vice president, and Enciso had not given clear information or reasoning for its closure. Oseguera and Enciso were the two administrators responsible for the Women’s Center.
“When we tried to raise our concerns we were fired and it feels like they don’t care about women’s issues at this point, although right now there’s a lot going on with women’s identification issues,” Monroy said. .
Martinez said the WoMen’s Center was primarily supposed to liaise with the Office of Student Affairs, primarily with Oseguera.
“We were supposed to be in contact with her because she’s the supervisor, but she didn’t even make the effort to talk to us and tell us what was going on,” Martinez said. “This while not knowing what was going to happen to us, a lot of students were upset that the center was closing, it really put a lot of stress on us.”
She added that there was never any communication between employees or the office.
Martinez said many WoMen’s Center employees said they were caught off guard by the closure and were not guaranteed other jobs at the university.
“They definitely don’t work at the university or for the university anymore. They found other jobs,” Martinez said.
As for students seeking help at the WoMen’s Center, Monroy said resources are only available if a student is suffering from domestic violence.
“The lactation stations, we don’t know what’s going on with those on campus,” Monroy said. “These types of resources have either been moved or cannot be found.”
Enciso said she also doesn’t know what will happen to lactation positions on campus.
“It’s so huge right now and it doesn’t make sense for the university to think there’s no need for a women’s center and resources around the issue on campus,” said Martinez.
When the center opened in 1972, the Daily Titan covered its opening.
“The center will provide a pleasant setting in which women can gather, interact and find available resources that relate to issues and concerns that affect them,” Daily Titan reported.
Monroy said the WoMen’s Center was one of the university’s first resource centers.
“The WoMen’s Center was a historic place that started out as one of the first resource centers on campus,” Monroy said. “As it was one of the first resource centers on campus, it helped kick-start a lot of the things we have today. I mean, the veteran center came out of it, the DIRC stuff came out of it too, like there were a lot of things that came out of the women’s centers that were historic.