We're Here to Support Advocates and Survivors
It is a time of hyper-partisan politics and corresponding heightened tension around our everyday interactions, especially online. At the Women’s Center, we hear frequently from people looking for support as they seek to engage with the news in ways that are mindful of their personal resources.
Some issues move beyond politics. We stand with all students working to make their world, at UVA and beyond, a more just and equitable world. We support survivors of gender-based violence and sexual assault, those who testify to it publicly and those who keep its impact on their lives private. We are here, committed to providing the resources that will help everyone whom we serve create a community that is safe and equitable for all.
It often surprises students to learn that the Women’s Center remains neutral on political issues. As an academic support unit reporting to the Office of the Provost, we are here to provide advocacy, educating people about the issues and their impact. But we do not claim a side.
This is frustrating for some of our supporters and I empathize with that frustration. But I also respectfully agree with the intention and wisdom behind this stance: we are here to support all women, all non-binary people, all men – both those who turn to us and those who don't yet see us as a resource. The minute we take a side, we tell those who see the issue differently that we are not here for them. We tell them that they are a “them.”
And whose politics would guide our taking sides? There is no monolithic “Women's Center” any more than there is a monolithic “women” or a monolithic “UVA.”
In an environment where screaming at each other, vilifying other points of view, and using any means available to achieve your ends are the dominant behaviors, we take seriously our charge to offer an alternative approach. We are not here to tell you what to think. There are many voices competing to do that. We work with those harmed by gender-based inequities every day. We see the impact of the escalation of public rhetoric. We are here to be the support everyone needs to engage with today’s political and social issues.