Womxn of Color Network Series kicks off


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Lily

UI Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers speaks during the Womxn of Color Welcome Mixer at the Women’s Resource and Action Center on Wednesday, Sep. 6, 2017. It was the inaugural event for the Womxn of Color Network Series, and will feature a monthly program on a topic affecting womxn of color. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

A new program aimed at empowering and uniting women of color on campus kicked off Wednesday evening at the Women’s Resource & Action Center.

The Womxn of Color Network Series, created by Jessica Padilla, the Iowa N.E.W. Leadership Program Coordinator at WRAC, was developed to be a program initiative that would connect women on campus and ensure there is equality for individuals of all identities, with a particular focus on women.

“It can be difficult to find each other on this campus, and it takes time for people to make connections with each other and with our own community,” Padilla said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to create a place for all women to connect, network, and make community. I think this is very important because to survive anything without a community to support you can be very difficult.”

The Womxn of Color Network Series will meet once a month throughout the fall semester at the WRAC to share experiences and discuss what it means to be women of color on campus and within the community. Padilla also hopes the series serves the individual needs of those who attend.

“Whatever it is that the individual participant needs that day, I want to make sure they take the opportunity to attend this event,” Padilla said.

The series will work with different departments and resources related to this goal of empowering women of color on campus. These include the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, University Counseling Service, and the Academic Support and Retention Office. Representatives from each one of these organizations spoke at kickoff event and discussed which monthly session they would be facilitating.

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UI Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers spoke at the kickoff event as well.

“It can sometimes be challenging to find a space to be exactly who we are. But this program is a space where things happen. This is a space where you can come and be. You can come and get support and encouragement,” Shivers said. “This program is an indication of what we need on our campus in order to build our community. What we’re doing here I hope is just the beginning of the community-building, sisterhood-building that we want to have here at the University of Iowa.”

UI junior Jessica Owens said she found out about the event on WRAC’s Instagram page.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people on campus,” Owens said. “I worked in Community of Color, which was a similar type of program and I got to meet faculty then — I wanted to meet other faculty and students here.”

“I think it’s important for women of color to have a space to connect and cherish each other with our melanin and our power,” UI senior Tanvi Yenna said. “I think it’s a happy place on campus for women of color to come together to celebrate our success.”

Padilla said she is excited to see what the program becomes in future semesters, and plans to let it grow organically in coordination with student feedback.

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