New Director Joins Women’s Center
By Andrea Estrada
A new director has taken the helm of the Women’s Center, replacing Sharon Hoshida, who served as acting director until her retirement from the university last spring. Alka Arora comes to UCSB from the University of Washington, where she was the program director for the Office of Faculty Advancement and the Diversity Research Institute.
“One of the things that attracted me to the Women’s Center here is its long history and its deep commitment to addressing multiple needs of women and men,” Arora said.
At the University of Washington, Arora developed programs to improve faculty recruitment and retention practices, mentor underrepresented faculty, and expand scholarly research on issues of power and difference.
One of Arora’s goals for the Women’s Center is to expand the outreach and programming so all women feel welcome, regardless of their age, ethnic background, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, or political perspective. She’d also like to include men in the center’s work on breaking down limiting gender roles and countering violence against women.
“We also have a new program director and a new rape prevention education director, and we’re doing some long-term strategic thinking about what the Women’s Center can do to help meet the needs of everyone on campus — staff, faculty, and students,”Arora said.
The new program director is Jess O’Keefe and the new rape prevention education director is Melanie Matson.
“Our focus is about making a broader social change in the way everyone thinks of gender norms and gender expression,” Arora said. “We want to create a space that fosters an environment of greater inclusion for everyone.”
Arora would also like to strengthen coalitions between the Women’s Center and other departments on campus to create greater gender equality and social justice across the university, and enrich the intellectual and social environment for all students.
“It won’t all get done in the first year, but we’re looking long-term,” she said. “And we’re facing budget cuts, but we can’t use that as a reason to limit our vision.”