This internship changed my human view about social construction, racism, patriarchy, and institutions, and how they perpetuate violence against women.
The Women’s Leadership and Resource Center provides internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students throughout the year. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss opportunities with our staff.
Public Service Graduate Internship Award
Thanks to the Graduate College’s Public Service Graduate Internship Award, WLRC was fortunate to host 3 wonderful interns in the summer of 2020. Each shared a reflection of their work with us:
This internship changed my human view about social construction, racism, patriarchy, and institutions, and how they perpetuate violence against women. Also, I could better understand how capitalism and white supremacy affect violence against Latinas in the U.S., and how women survivors of violence can use many forms, tools, ways, and methodologies of healing. This opportunity was more than an academic experience. It was a life concept deconstruction. I understood that gender-based violence in communities of color should be given more attention to solve, prevent, and heal these women because they do not share the same class or race backgrounds of white women–they experience violence differently. Finally, I understood how vital intersectionality is to help us as scientists fully understand power systems and see the full picture of intersecting discrimination types to understand and effectively address the complexity of gender-based violence.
Annanda Batista is a nurse who graduated from the Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil. Currently, she is a Ph.D. student at UIC’s College of Nursing and a Doctoral Fellow sponsored by the Graduate College University Fellowship. Her background experience includes maternal-infant health promotion and self-management support for youth chronic health conditions. Annanda’s internship project focused on developing a resource guide for U.S. women of color to help promote the process of healing from gender-based violence.
During this time of multiple pandemics–COVID-19, an economic collapse, and visceral anti-Black violence enhanced by the state–the value of the center’s services cannot be overstated.
Over the course of my Public Service Graduate Internship at the Women’s Leadership Resource Center / Campus Advocacy Network (WLRC/CAN), I dove into decades of the center’s archival history. Now situated as one of UIC’s seven Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change, WLRC/CAN was born in the early 1990s as the Office of Women’s Affairs. Though much has changed at the center, the university, and in the world since, the role of a university women’s center in these times is as critical as ever.
Staff members have worked tirelessly on leadership development, trainings, and political education on issues of gender justice, racial justice, bystander intervention, sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. They have built on, grounded in, and connected with decades of feminist activism in Chicago and beyond.
WLRC/CAN provides programming and political education that explicitly ties gender violence to state violence, ableism, xenophobia, anti-Black racism, the violence of the medical industrial complex, settler colonialism, and more. Staff members develop leaders, ground workshop attendees in history, and equip us for the present, giving us the language and critical analysis we desperately need for the troubled times we are living in. Importantly, this happens across university hierarchies of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, and connects UIC to the broader communities to which we are responsible. Take, for example, domestic violence programming that includes letter writing campaigns to criminalized survivors of abuse incarcerated in jails or by ICE. For years, the center has leveraged university resources and unique expertise to host art exhibits, speaker sessions, and teach ins.
In addition to language, the center provides quiet. Solace. Listening. Whether it be space for writing, breathing, or being in the silent company of friends, the center’s doors are open, albeit now virtually, to gather in solidarity, to share a meal, or to exchange ideas.
Finally, during this time of multiple pandemics – COVID-19, an economic collapse, and visceral anti-Black violence enhanced by the state – the value of the center’s services cannot be overstated. Statistics on increased feelings of isolation, increased rates of domestic violence, parental exhaustion, food scarcity, and increased rates family violence abound. If you are experiencing this, the highly trained and compassionate staff members at the center at there to help. If you know someone who is, and have been trying and trying and trying to find resources for them, call CAN.
My research found that the center’s history is one of resistance and of service. The role of a university women’s center today is to resist the onslaught of white supremacist violence, to resist the neoliberal push to individuation and isolation, to resist white feminism, and to resist patriarchal violence in any form, whether it be in the home, in the workplace, or at the university. And the center does this in service to its students and to the broader communities to which it is responsible, be it in the cities or towns in which it is located, nationally, or globally. The Women’s Leadership and Resource Center and Campus Advocacy Center at UIC occupies a beautiful and necessary nexus of resistance and service, and I feel excited to witness its 30th Anniversary Celebration this upcoming year.