Envisioning a More Just Post-Pandemic World
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In this issue:
  • A note from our director
  • The Breathing Room
  • Additional Upcoming WLRC events
  • Staying Connected: Updates about COVID-19 and WLRC/CAN
  • CCUSC events
  • Campus opportunities
  • Community opportunities
  • Connect with us!
A note from our director

Where Is the Joy?

Mental exhaustion is setting in. The desire to give up and give in is very present. Coping with uncertainty is itself a stressful experience. There are so many questions for which we still have no answers: Will the university continue virtual operations through the Fall 2020 semester? Will the tenure clocks of junior faculty be extended? How can the institution creatively address the economic needs of our students who work in order to afford tuition? Can we really plan for an uncertain future? How can we step back from the ever-present push for productivity and concentrate on work that is meaningful and life-affirming? Whether we are parents, caregivers for younger siblings or aging parents, intimate partners, or sharing space with family members during this period of sheltering in place, the emotional and economic toll being exacted--individually and collectively--will live with us long after the virus has left our bodies and communities.

In this moment, let us pause to mourn the passing of Javier Navarro, a member of our UIC community who was an employee in Facilities. I have had the pleasure of working with Javier for as long as I have been at UIC, from organizing office moves for GWS faculty, to driving for Heritage Garden field trips, to setting up exhibitions and our center’s workspace. He will be missed. I am reminded that, alongside the concern and effort for students’ wellbeing, we would do well to consider that our university community includes individuals like Javier whose labor is critical to UIC’s social infrastructure. As we take account of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, let us recognize the ways in which university staff--from healthcare to administrative to auxiliary--are carrying an outsized share of grief and responsibility for our collective wellbeing right now.

It is never too late to learn important lessons about what and who we need to fight harder for, and about how important it is to build compassionate and resilient communities in order that more of us can survive.

This week is celebrated by reproductive justice and public health communities as Black Maternal Health Week. The intersection of economic inequality, racism, sexism, and ableism shapes Black women’s relationship to their bodies and to the work of making and sustaining families in many ways. The toll that COVID-19 is taking on Black communities in the U.S. has implications for Black women as family members become ill or die, as the care for children and elderly is passed on to women, and as there is more political constraint on women’s abilities to control the conditions under which they have and raise children. To quote Dr. Jennifer Jackson, “Audre Lorde teaches us that mothering Black children is community building, resistance sustaining, survival work.”

In these difficult days, we are also learning about joy and optimism, and discovering the unexpected places and moments where the beauty of nature, human creativity, compassion, and the will to live fully in the present eclipses the realities over which we have little control.

There is hope in organizing against sexual violence and believing that we can win: Activists and advocates are doing the important labor of lifting up undocumented and women of color survivors of domestic and sexual violence like Nan-Hui Jo and Liyah Birru, calling for an end to the criminalization of all survivors, and pushing for more just policies and practices including releasing people from detention and prison during the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow Love and Protect (@LoveProtectOrg) and Survived and Punished (@Survivepunish) on social media to learn more about their campaigns and education projects.

There is joy in making sure that people can eat during difficult times. Food security in the midst of a pandemic is a critical concern for many individuals and families, especially where workers lost their jobs, are working fewer hours, and/or whose various sources of income have disappeared. In most communities, women bear the heaviest responsibility for and burden of sourcing, preparing, and ensuring that others eat. We know that UIC students also experience food insecurity, and UIC’s Pop-Up Pantry (located at the Wellness Center in Student Center East) continues to address that need every Tuesday and Wednesday, from 2 to 4pm. If you can donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which provides support for food pantries in churches and community organizations around the city of Chicago, please do so.

Food is comfort, salve, and sustenance; food offers a way to feel connected to a past and to each other in the present. Food is also a deeply feminist issue. It is true that people are baking more bread; new shipments of flour leap off the shelves of grocery stores within hours. I have certainly made more bread in the past two weeks than I have in the past five years!

Faculty members are not immune to the call to the kitchen. For inspiration in breadmaking, check out Eve Ewing’s (@eve.ewing) Instagram and Twitter pages.

Through Facebook, you might catch a glimpse of the meals created by Professor Anna Guevarra of UIC’s Gender & Women’s Studies and Global Asian Studies Program. Cynthia Blair, faculty in History and African American Studies and director of the African-American Cultural Center, has been perfecting her beef patties as part of AACC’s Tasty Tuesdays virtual program.

If you have the space to do so, make something and share it with us!

I have gotten much pleasure from watching videos of animals taking over villages while humans are sheltered, as well as the various TikTok challenges that are essentially quarantine fashion shows. So far, my favorites feature women and gender nonconforming individuals from across the continents of Africa and Asia doing the #dontrushchallenge and Inuit women modeling to the tunes of “Fight For the Rights” by Inuk singer Kelly Fraser.

As WLRC continues its programming--from the social media campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness Month highlighting critical issues about gender-based violence raised in the Shake It Up! discussion series, to Friday’s lineup of the Write @ WLRC virtual writing group and The Breathing Room--let us consider how to bring questions of joy back into the ways we support and work together to make change.

In solidarity,

Natalie Bennett

The Breathing Room

Join us in the Breathing Room, a place to unwind, heal, and find community. We'll be sharing reflections, creative and scholarly endeavors, and activity ideas in this newsletter, on our website, on our social media, and in a weekly Zoom session.

"The Breathing Room" in a paintbrush font in white, with a faint circle drawn behind it in purple and red tones, on a purple and red ombre background 

Envisioning a More Just Post-Pandemic World

Friday, April 17, 2020
Registration required for Zoom info

Join us in a plática--conversation--on reimagining our lives post-COVID-19. How have world leaders responded to the pandemic? What resources have governments, businesses, and nonprofits suddenly made accessible, and what must we still demand? How have communities rallied to develop rapid-response mutual aid networks, and how can we sustain them? We take inspiration from poet and activist Sonya Renee Taylor's call to dream of a more just world:

"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. we should not long to return my friends. we are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature."

A branch of orange flower buds at the top, a branch of lavender flower buds at the bottom, and the essay title printed in the middle 

The Jig Is Up: Do Better
a reflection by Emoonah McClerklin

Radical feminist theory is becoming mainstream and, therefore, more acceptable. It’s now popular to read Toni Morrison and bell hooks, or to use the word “intersectional” in a sentence (whether or not it’s used correctly). Feminist theory and literature are becoming more accessible outside academia, which is good. But with this accessibility comes a kind of performative feminism—a watered-down version that allows cis men to play “feminist” without actually doing the work of transforming themselves and their relationships with women. They get to sound educated and progressive as they regurgitate radical frameworks, but still benefit from all the trappings of patriarchy. And it’s pissing me the f*** off.


Illustrations of people with oversized movie paraphernalia (popcorn bucket, 3D glasses, film reel, and soda cup). 

Feminist TV Shows

Here’s another round of resources to help you pass the time! Have you seen any of these feminist shows on Netflix? They’re our favorites.

Additional Upcoming WLRC Events
Five black women cutting and sewing quilt fabric 

Black Hair Quilt Project

Thursdays, 3-5pm
Dates: April 16, April 30
Registration required for Zoom info: Email UICBlackHairQuilt@gmail.com

We're moving to a virtual space! We invite Black women students to participate in a collaborative art project that explores the stories that Black women tell about their hair. Over the Spring 2020 semester, each participant will work with a fiber artist to design and stitch an individual quilt square while learning about Black women’s quilting traditions and engaging in conversation about what love, joy, family, politics, trauma, fashion, and resistance have to do with Black hair.

Aerial view of pencils, notebooks, papers, and a cell phone on a desk. 

Write @ WLRC

Friday, April 17, 2020
10am - 12pm
Registration required for Zoom info

Can’t find the time or motivation to write? Working on your dissertation/conference paper/creative project? Need some structure, support, and accountability? Join our weekly virtual write onsite space for graduate students, faculty, and staff!

Emoonah sits outside on a concrete garden ledge, looking up to her right and smiling into the sun 

Examining the Cultural Stressors and Coping Mechanisms of Black Women College Students
A capstone presentation by Emoonah McClerklin

Thursday, April 23, 2020
Registration required for Zoom info

Join us in celebrating our assistant Emoonah McClerklin as she presents her Honors College capstone project!

Research shows that women exhibit higher rates of stress and anxiety than men. Research also shows that some racial groups experience different types of stress than others because of their different treatment in society. However, it has not yet been discussed how people at the intersections of racial and gender discrimination, like black women, experience stress. This study uses a semi-structured qualitative interview method to examine the specific racial and gendered ways black women students at UIC experience stress, and how they cope with that unique stress. Preliminary findings suggest that Black women feel stressed in interracial social environments, having to adopt a variety of coping mechanisms to avoid judgment due to stereotypes, microaggressions, and racially insensitive language used by their peers.

Aerial photo of UIC's campus 

WLRC will be physically closed for the duration of spring semester. Staff are working remotely and can be reached at wlrc@uic.edu. We will continue to stay connected with you through social media and email.

The Campus Advocacy Network will continue to serve UIC students, faculty, and staff. Our confidential advocate is available for virtual appointments. To schedule a meeting or request more information, please email can-appointment@uic.edu or kmaginot@uic.edu. You can also call (312) 413-8206 and leave a voicemail.

We are open to connecting with you in multiple ways:

  • Phone: (312) 413-8206 or (312) 488-9784
  • Video conference (Webex or Google Hangouts)
  • Online chat (Google Chats)
  • Email

For those living with violence, having to isolate or self-quarantine oneself can make a situation more unsafe. We are here to answer questions and provide support if you or a loved one is in a situation like this. If you are looking for shelter, food, or safety planning, please reach out to CAN to learn the options available on and off campus. We also encourage you to check in with friends and family who may be vulnerable and share our contact information with them.

More info & resources

CCUSC Events & Resources
A calendar listing of events with a purple-red gradient background 

UIC's Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change are bringing you virtual programming! Click each center's name below for details on events, services, resources, and ways to connect on social media:

African-American Cultural Center

Arab American Cultural Center

Asian American Resource and Cultural Center

Disability Cultural Center

Gender and Sexuality Center

Latino Cultural Center

  • Community in Solidarity Check-in: Thu, April 16, 3:30pm
  • Community in Solidarity Check-in: Mon, April 20, 11am
  • Community in Solidarity Check-in: Thu, April 23, 3:30pm
  • Storming COVID-19 with Moments of Joy & Reflection: Read & share yours!

Office of Diversity

Text-based flyer about COVID-19 resources for undocumented students 

Resources for Undocumented Students

For our undocumented immigrant community, we want to make sure you are aware of our internal and external resources available to support you during this time.

For any additional questions, please contact Tanya Cabrera, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Inclusion, at tcabrera@uic.edu or (312) 355-0011.

Text-based flyer about Stigma and COVID-19 

Stigma & COVID-19: Viruses Do Not Discriminate

We've teamed up with the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, Office of International Services, and the Office of the Dean of Students to help you combat anti-Asian racism tied to COVID-19. Please share with your communities!

Text-based flyer about Ramadan 

Ways to Support Students During Ramadan (April 23 - May 23, 2020)

Our friends at the Arab American Cultural Center have created this helpful resource for supporting our students during Ramadan, which begins later this month. Please share!


Campus Opportunities
A small globe with several people rising up out of it and the Chicago skyline appearing behind them. One of the people holds a sign that says "Plastic-Free UIC." 

Earth Day at UIC

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Office of Planning, Sustainability and Project Management asks that you show your support for a Plastic Free UIC by wearing red on April 22, signing up for our virtual "clean up," and advocating for a plastic free campus both online and out loud!

COVID-19 LAS Scholarship Support

The LAS Dean’s Office is pleased to offer a limited number of scholarship awards (up to $1,000) to LAS students who require assistance with educational expenses (e.g. tuition, fees, housing, books or other unforeseen expenses) due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you have any questions about this application, please contact lasscholarships@uic.edu

Hilda López-Arce Scholarship for Latinx Undergraduate Students

Each year the Hilda López-Arce Scholarship Selection Committee, in conjunction with the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Latinos and the Latina Network, awards a $500 scholarship to a Latinx student who exhibits leadership qualities and who has made contributions to the Latinx community. Applications due Friday, April 24. Questions can be directed to Latina Network Co-Chairs Jocelyn Munguia Chavez at jmungu2@uic.edu or Diana Soriano at dsoria2@uic.edu.

Career Services Workshops

The UIC Career Services office is offering a number of live and pre-recorded workshops this month!

CareerIgnite: Planning a Gap Year Live Chat Session
Thursday, April 12, 12-1pm

CareerIgnite: How to Be a Job Candidate in a Recession
Monday, April 20, 1-2pm

CareerIgnite: Free Tech Resources that Students Must Use for Job and Internship Sources
Wednesday, April 22, 1-2pm

CareerIgnite: Developing and Maintaining Your Digital Brand Live Chat Session
Thursday, April 23, 12-1pm

Counseling Center Feeling Good Friday Workshops

Friday, April 17: De-Stress the Test
Friday, April 24: Self-Kindness and a Grateful Hearth

Student Leadership and Civic Engagement Book and Documentary Club

Thursday, April 16 and 30 at 3:30pm: book discussion
Friday, April 22 at 12:30pm: film discussion

For the month of April, we'll read Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams and watch the documentary American Factory on Netflix.

Campus Recreation Online Fitness Classes

UIC Campus Recreation is offering daily group fitness classes, including Bodyweight, Core Training, BollyX, and Flow. They are also starting new eSports leagues for FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA2K, and NHL (registration required).

Fill Out the Census!

UIC's Census Team wants you to fill out the Census! Help your community receive the funding and services it needs! Respond via website, phone, or mail:  2020census.gov

Please note: Your answers are private and will not be shared with federal agencies or law enforcement entities.

Community Opportunities
End Rape on Campus logo: the name of the organization in black block letters inside a black outlined box. 

End Rape on Campus: "I feel like sh!t" and Social Distancing Isn't Helping
Thursday, April 16, 2020 at 4pm

EROC is hosting Zoom University: A Self-Care Survivors Series of webinars, Instagram lives, and calls for students and survivors across the country to come together in community during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Resilience: Breaking the Silence Cafe
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 12-1pm

For the past 13 years, Breaking the Silence has been an evening of healing for survivors, by survivors. While we realize we can’t hold a digital candle to our annual poetry event, we’ve decided this year to instead turn our attention to the brilliance and resilience of survivors by holding an afternoon poetry and spoken word café. Grab your beverage of choice and join us for some poetry, some storytelling and a short mindfulness practice. We hope to reinvigorate your creativity and reunite you with your survivor community. Open mic performers will have the opportunity to sign up to perform on a first come basis.

HEART Sexual Assault Awareness Month Webinar Series

Join HEART every Wednesday in April for a workshop on sexual violence.

Wednesday, April 22: Power and Control: Barriers to disclosure for Muslim survivors
Wednesday, April 29: Supporting Survivors: Responding with RAHMA

Hollaback!: Stand Up Against Street Harassment
Friday, April 24 at 11am

Like much of the world, we are all still figuring out how COVID19 will change us. We’ve seen what happens when millions of people ban together to take care of one another against the odds. How can we bring that forward into our lives after this is over?

It starts by taking action right now. Join us for a one-hour, interactive, virtual training to learn how to intervene when you see harassment happening. We’ll talk about what can harassment looks like—from microaggressions to violence—and how Hollaback!’s 5Ds of bystander intervention can help: distract, delegate, document, delay, and direct. We’ll also talk about how to prioritize your own safety while intervening and how to respond if you get harassed. We’ll have time at the end for practice, and you’ll leave feeling more confident intervening the next time you see street harassment.

Resilience: Standing Silent Witness
Friday, April 24, 2020 at 12-1pm

Standing Silent Witness, Resilience’s signature SAAM event, unites participants in a visual demonstration to celebrate our individual and collective survival. Wearing t-shirts that bear stories and messages protesting sexual violence, we lift up those who have survived being silenced and those who have survived the silence of family members, institutions, and broader society in the face of witnessing harm. By being a part of this event, together participants break the silence and support the right to live free from violence.

Standing Silent Witness brings together nearly 200 participants each year. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be gathering virtually this year over Facebook and Instagram. If you have questions, please contact Lillian Cartwright at lcartwright@ourresilience.org.

Resilience: Sexual Assault Awareness Month Book Club
Monday, April 27, 2020 at 5:30-7pm

Connect with your community and engage in SAAM with reading! Resilience is hosting a virtual book club for the month of April. We will be reading Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler.

Call for Volunteers: Title IX Comment Catalog Project

This is a "crowd-researched" project to catalog each of the comments filed in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in November 2018 regarding Title IX and sexual harassment ("Title IX NPRM"). To participate, please visit the website, click the "I want to adopt 20 comments" button, and follow the instructions to catalog each comment in your batch. No specialized knowledge or skills are required.

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