WSU groups to help diverse students feel safe on campus

Chicanx Latinx Student Center, Women*s Center, GIESORC, AAPISC promote inclusivity

MOLLY WILK, Evergreen reporter

Several student resource centers are working to ensure students feel included and represented on campus, whether they are here for the first time or returning after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jocelin Gallardo, Chicanx Latinx Student Center interim retention counselor, said she originally got involved to find a home away from home and was able to find that in the center. 

The center emphasized the importance of opening up the conversation regarding mental health this past year and a half, Gallardo said. It provided resources such as Latinx-identifying counselors to help break down the stereotypes of therapy. 

The center is not only for those who may identify with many of their members but is there to help everyone find a place on campus, she said.   

“Diversity means to the student body having a place where you belong,” she said, “and having a place where you can grow within your own identity and intersectionalities and really being able to really hone in on those different parts of yourself.” 

The center will be hosting a Latin Heritage Month kickoff event on Thursday. More information about the group and events can be found on its website

Amy Sharp, WSU’s Women*s Center director, said the center offers a variety of resources for women on campus such as Harpy*s Magazine and the Coalition for Women Students. 

The center is looking to rebuild relationships with members after being virtual and hopes to see an increase in connections this year, she said.

The center is open to both women and those who are interested in learning more about women’s issues, Sharp said. Magazines and books are available for those looking to learn more. More about the Women*s Center can be found on its website.

Matthew Jeffries, campus climate and community building director, oversees several groups on campus including the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center. 

Jeffries said the main reason he became involved with GIESORC was to be the person he needed when he was younger. He aims to take action in a way that is the most thoughtful and community-based. 

One of the most exciting things to come is the addition of pronouns on CougarCards and class rosters, Jeffries said. The finish line is not too far in the future and he hopes to allow for students to change their pronouns in MyWSU when necessary. 

The center is open to everyone and is a welcoming place to visit, he said. 

Jeffries said he encourages everyone to get involved in an on-campus organization where they feel safe and included. 

More information about GIESORC can be found on its website

Dominique Faga’autau, Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Center retention counselor, said his goal this year is to help students understand possible options and solutions for issues they may be facing. 

AAPISC works to create the best possible undergraduate experience for everyone who comes through its office, Faga’autau said. The center has 19 student mentors that work with over 500 multicultural students to ensure they are supported. 

Faga’autau said he tries his best to attend campus events such as family weekend to show students there is representation and a place for them on campus. 

The diversity offered by the student body makes the campus unique and he takes pride in getting to help students feel as if they are a part of the Cougar family, he said. 

“Respect all Cougs and remember that Cougs help Cougs,” he said. “It really is all about one WSU so we’re here to help and support.”