UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 10 | Oct.
Youve Come A Long Way, Baby
UBC Womens Resources Centre celebrates 30 years
By Cristina Calboreanu
When it first opened its doors in January 1973, the UBC Womens
Resources Centre (WRC) consisted of a half-time coordinator
in half an office. It answered 1,000 telephone inquiries in
its first year. Thirty years later, the WRC has six professional
counsellors and close to 50 volunteers donating approximately
7,000 hours a year, and provides services to more than 25,000
women and men a year.
The centre grew out of the Daytime Program of the UBC Centre
for Continuing Education. Designed to provide non-credit courses
for people interested in learning but not with a degree in
view (the vast majority of whom were women), the Daytime Program
looked to the only North American model, the University of
California at Los Angeles.
The WRC has continued to evolve from a specialized resources
centre for women re-entering the workforce, to a life planning
and adult learning centre for women and men, offering free
drop-in peer counselling, and personal development and life
planning programs ranging from assertiveness training to financial
planning and parent/child conflict resolution.
There are, within universities, research units and
womens studies programs that operate on an academic
or student service basis, explains acting director Beth
Hawkes, but to have a university centre that operates
in an integrated way, that is both a community service and
a teaching and learning environment -- thats rare.
Despite having expanded its services to include men, the
WRC is holding onto its name, in deference to its roots, but
also because, in Hawkes words, it continues to
be informed by skills and attitudes that remain strongly based
in womens psychology and ways of being in community
and in society: a lot of collaboration, a lot of de-emphasis
on ego and hierarchical issues, a lot of mutual empowerment
Our curriculum is constantly being developed,
says Hawkes. In addition to our successful certificate
programs, we are always bringing in guests and resources for
our volunteer associates to help them deal with specific issues
that clients bring up. Personal goals and work-life balance
are big right now, because so much change is taking place
in the workplace. Were also getting more highly skilled
professionals through the door.
With the baby boom generation, there are emerging themes
related to positive or creative aging; people are thinking
about the meaning of their lives in new ways. The rise in
uncertainty at all levels is also an issue, whether we talk
about SARS, electrical infrastructure, or global terrorism
-- we see problems associated with fear and insecurity, which
can lead to depression, substance abuse, family and workplace
conflict, and so on.
With the WRCs 2000 move to UBCs Robson Square
campus have come new responsibilities and perspectives. Here
we are a window between the downtown campus and the community,
says Hawkes. That calls on us to take our traditional
strengths, which have been very focused on the needs of individuals,
and to expand our scope to include programming that addresses
the health and well-being of the larger community.