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A home for all identities

The Institute for Women’s Studies and Services becomes the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy and will change location.

By Cory Phare

August 8, 2018

Faculty of Gender Institute for Teaching and AdvocacyWhat’s in a name?

For the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy, formerly the Institute for Women’s Studies and Services, it’s a place to belong.

“We wanted to have a name accurately reflect both who we are and who we serve,” said Netty Rodriguez, associate director of GITA. “It’s a holistic approach, covering services we provide and our campus population.”

Those services include teaching and advocacy, providing support resources such as a retention-and-success advisor who helps people navigate academic and personal systems. Or a snack stop in the community kitchen to help address food insecurity, a lactation space for nursing parents and a scholarship team on staff.

GITA also provides workstations with computers and printers, serving as a mini lab for Roadrunners.

“We try to be a comprehensive location for students to eat, study and be in community,” Rodriguez said.

The name change was a collective effort, kicked off about five years ago by a group of faculty and staff including Kat Martinez, Ph.D., and interim GITA director/department chair and former institute director Arlene Sgoutas, Ph.D. (now interim dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences), who led the academic program’s evolution into Gender, Women and Sexualities Studies.

Rodriguez noted the necessary shift to support all students while still honoring the institute’s 30-plus-year legacy as a groundbreaking combination of academics and services.  

“We live in a world moving outside of gender binaries,” Rodriguez said. “It’s increasingly more and more important to stay at the forefront, to be conscious of who we serve and those around us. If an individual doesn’t identify as female, we want to assure them they’re welcomed.”

In addition to the name change, GITA will have a new physical space: The institute will be moving to Boulder Creek Building 132 from its Ninth Street Park location in early October. Rodriguez said the move will afford the opportunity to provide outreach to an area of campus that may be easy to overlook.

Ultimately, it’s about meeting students where they are, honoring unique lived experiences – and, by doing so, empowering them to succeed.

“When you think about our student population, they’ve got a lot of intersecting identities; they’re nontraditionally aged, multigender, undocumented, first-generation and many more,” Rodriguez said.

“GITA serves all of those students – we make sure everyone can find a home here.”

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