On the second floor in the Student Center, there is a place called The HUB, where many events for those who identify as any minority are held. One of the most eagerly awaited weekly events held is called The Women of Color Collective (WOCC).
The group is for the women on campus who identify with being of color. Facilitated by HUB faculty Kristen Reynolds and CAPS counselor Isabel Avila Saiter, the space was made for those to bring their achievements, struggles and experiences to the table and find a connection amongst many who feel the same as they do.
“Women of color is an inclusive space for any woman identifying person of color to gather and discuss our experiences and challenges at predominately white institutions. It’s where we can socialize and experience joy aside from the trauma we experience as women of color,” said Symphoni Barbee, a junior studying political science.
The group also opens up opportunities for other events on campus based around women of color. One particular event is the Women of Color Conference that happens in March, which is Women’s History Month. “Last year was amazing. I felt really understood and to be surrounded by women who face similar challenges on our campus was empowering. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my struggle” said Ja’Keemah Seales, a junior.
The conference hosts a variety of topics that women of color can relate to. From talking about dating and family in the different cultures, to their experiences on campus as well as maintaining healthy relationships with friends and setting boundaries while navigating their way through predominately white spaces. The conference shines a light on those who are usually hidden within the margins.
The WOCC is a safe space to be vulnerable and still be supported amongst peers who may be going through the same situations.
“The group shows immense support to students who are disconnected from the homogeneity in the student culture and offers the opportunity for a marginalized community to flourish” said Keanu Thompson, a senior graduating this spring.
There’s tea telling, laughing and crying, but WOCC also offers validation, love, affirmation and guidance. The group is constantly evolving and learning from each member and each week when something new is brought up, the group collectively figures out a solution to help those in need.
Many women miss WOCC due to lack of attention and promotion, classes being scheduled during its regular time and some just don’t find the value of going. However, the space is open to all women of color who need it, of every ethnicity or color and every sexuality. Whether black, API, Latinx, or any other minority identity on campus, Women of Color Collective is a space to be welcomed and validated.
WOCC meets every Wednesday starting Jan. 30 from 12 - 1 p.m. Feel free to bring lunch.