The Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) is a student organization on campus. Don’t be fooled by the name, they help all genders including males, females and others.
Their main focus is working as advocates for the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA) and providing resources for students.
“We try to do our best with that during office hours and our private time if need be,” WRAC intern, Eva Gallegos-Perez said.
According to the director of the Office of Cultural Diversity, Susana Peyalo-Woodward, WRAC started in the department of Women, Gender and Sexuality in the early 80’s. WRAC was once a part of their office but now are located in the Multicultural Center and work collaboratively with the department.
Peyalo-Woodward said WRAC partners with other organizations around campus when it comes to issues of gender and gender identity.
“Our services are not only for women--we welcome everyone,” Peyalo-Woodward said.
For example, WRAC partners with the Office of Student Conduct to do programming specifically talking about masculinity.
Peyalo-Woodward said that several years ago there was a group of men that wanted to help spread the word on the same issues that WRAC covers. The group was very active for only one year but every year they are hoping that students will once again be active in the group.
Our services are not only for women--we welcome everyone. -Susana Peyalo-Woodward, Director for the Office of Cultural Diversity.
Last year around 400 men came to visit WRAC - a much greater number than the year before.
“Most men come to educate themselves,” Gallegos-Perez said.
According to Gallegos-Perez men wander in for coffee and then ask about condoms, condom use and what WRAC does.
“It’s really interesting how the visits start with, ‘I’m going to get coffee,’ and turns into ‘Actually, I had a question,’” Gallegos-Perez said.
Nate Twedt, another WRAC intern said a lot of men come in with questions on how to support their friends that have just become victims of sexual assault.
According to Anna Spielmann, a third WRAC intern, there has also been an increase in men who want to go through the PAVSA training.
“I think (it’s because) we put a strong emphasis on that what we do is not just for women to do and we all have to work in this together -- it’s not a gender thing,” Spielmann said.
Spielmann also said she thinks people of all genders find WRAC so approachable because they are students. The team agrees that it is also because they don’t counsel, they listen to students.
It’s really interesting how the visits start with, ‘I’m going to get coffee,’ and turns into ‘Actually, I had a question.’ -WRAC intern Eva Gallegos-Perez.
“We can provide options for them,” Twedt said.
Those options include alternative housing, escorts to walk students from class to class and they can also be allies if students choose to report a sexual assault.
“Some people might just come in asking about options and we’ll lay them out,” Twedt said. “Then they might come back to us later on and say that they have made a decision on what they would like to do and ask for help.”
Peylo-Woodward said that another important part of WRAC is all the programming and education that they do.
“We are a key and integral part of the campus on the different levels of programs,” Peyalo said.
WRAC puts on dozens of events each year. Their next event will be Take Back the Night March and Rally on Oct. 7 at 5:45 p.m. The march is in an effort to end power-based violence. “The most beautiful thing about being a part of WRAC and doing these events is not only do we get to educate the UMD campus about this topic but we also get to educate ourselves along the way,” Gallegos-Perez said.