The Arizona Desert Lamp

I mean, are you gonna liberate us girls?

Posted in Campus, Politics by Connor Mendenhall on 5 February 2009

Evan’s right that the Women’s Resource Center shouldn’t get any money from UA’s student services fee. But neither should Safe Ride, student legal services, or the Student Union’s absurd Welfare Wednesdays. Student services should be paid for by user fees and outside grants–not with money taken forcibly from students by ABOR fiat.

But that doesn’t mean that the services the WRC provides aren’t worthwhile. In fact, the way that the center has operated as a student-run service funded mostly by outside grants for the last few years really is a kool thing, and projects like their wildly successful HIV testing program take a shot at serious public health issues on campus. Though I don’t sympathize with their rent-seeking, I do sympathize with the Center’s desire for independence from student government. As part of ASUA, the WRC can’t do the sort of political or advocacy work that they’d like–and that they ought to be free to do as an independent organization.

As it is now, events like this one, with a big “Keep Abortion Legal” banner, shouldn’t be a function of our student government. But I want to keep abortion legal, and I think the WRC should be free to spread the message. The only way to do that on the up-and-up is to get away from ASUA.

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5 Responses

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  1. Evan Lisull said, on 5 February 2009 at 9:55 am

    Mostly agreed, esp. regarding the second to last paragraph. But I maintain that “Welfare Wednesdays” and Safe Ride are at least services that can be utilized by a wide swathe of students, while the WRC, to function effectively, essentially excludes males, the bunk about “welcoming all genders” aside.

  2. Matt Styer said, on 5 February 2009 at 10:16 am

    I guess not being a libertarian or much of an individualist, I don’t get the insistence that services be paid for by a 1:1 ratio with people who use them. This is a weird sense of fairness to me.

    I think Evan you’re also downplaying the extent to which men can be involved with this – men who care about women’s rights, for instance, and per Connor’s link, anyone can get HIV.

    I’m conflicted about what government should and should not fund. I don’t think can possibly be neutral in toto or that this would be a good state of affairs (so this is not the issue for me), though they can be neutral towards a lot of issues. Things being as they are though, it’s probably better that they become fully independent, as Connor said.

  3. Jimi Alexander said, on 5 February 2009 at 10:53 am

    I disagree. SafeRide (aka The Official Designated Driver for your Kegger/Mixer/Frat Party/Other Social Gathering Used As An Excuse To Get Inebriated) could probably charge a nominal fee for their services, but the $3 Combo Days are fantastic and, so far as I can tell, wildly popular. Anything that helps students to not starve is a valuable service, in my opinion. Then again, I don’t subscribe to the same anarcho-capitalist bent that everyone else on this site appears to embrace.

  4. tiffany said, on 5 February 2009 at 9:04 pm

    what about the drc? programs for students with children?

    they exclude a great deal of people but are important and need funds, why is the WRC any different?

    if 1 out of every 4 college aged women were not raped
    if women made as much money as men
    if women were not constantally underattack for exercising their right to choose

    then we would not need the center

    i hope one day there would be no need for a women’s center but obviously there is and
    with the large turnout to WRC events and number of petitions signed

    many people want it

  5. Connor Mendenhall said, on 6 February 2009 at 2:56 am

    I don’t mind supporting the DRC, and some of the programs for students with children, but they’re not (yet) paid for from the student services fee.

    Currently, they’re not “supported by user fees and outside grants,” as I argue student services should be above. But I see them as part of a package deal that comes with attending the UA. You’re right that “they exclude a great deal of people but are important and need funds,” and I don’t mind a bit of my tuition money or state taxes going to pay for them. If they really bothered me, I’d be free to find a different university with a different set of services.

    So, I guess I wouldn’t mind if the WRC was funded just like the DRC and programs for student parents, but I don’t think it’s a great idea. The WRC should be able to do political and advocacy work–but this would be even more inappropriate as an organ of a state university than a state university student government. There’s a trade-off there, but I’d argue that political activity, especially in support of reproductive rights, is more urgent than political activity in support of students with kids or the disabled. So it’s appropriate for the WRC to be independent, while the DRC and friends remain primarily service providers.

    By the way, I’ve got to take issue with the “1 out of every 4 college aged women” statistic. As Heather MacDonald put it in City Journal (http://is.gd/iAxU), “if the one-in-four statistic is correct…campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years.”

    Tossing this figure around as casually as many college activists do builds serious bathos, breeds fear, and ultimately trivializes a serious and traumatic crime that affects college students, women, men, children alike. It’s based on statistics that were poorly collected over two decades ago (by a UA researcher, no less!). College women–and men, for that matter–should be educated about consent, empowered to protect and be sovereign over their selves, and willing to speak out when that sovereignty is violated. But constantly crying wolf about a questionable crisis doesn’t do anybody any good. I’d like to consider myself an empiricist, so chalk me up with Jessica from Jezebel on this one (http://is.gd/iACW): it’s time for an updated, better-designed survey instead of the same old statistics.


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