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Sunday, May 24, 2020

SAIRC provides student support

Campus organization puts on digital events and resources spring quarter

A display of the AS WHOLE Food Pantry, coordinated by SAIRC, after being restocked. // Photo courtesy of Christina Ngo

By Ashtyn Gudgel

Through multiple digital platforms, the Associated Students Student Advocacy and Identity Resource Center (SAIRC) has remained open for student support and events throughout the quarter.

“SAIRC exists to provide information and support for students,” said Karen Deysher, the coordinator for SAIRC. Deysher, who is in charge of program management and providing professional support for individuals preparing for graduation, oversees the six centers within the SAIRC: The Blue Resource Center, The Veteran’s Outreach Center, The Womxn’s Identity Resource Center, The Queer Resource Center, The Legal Information Center and The Disability Outreach Center. All six centers are hosting digital events and meetings over spring quarter.

J. King, the Educational Programming Coordinator for the Queer Resource Center, said that the center has been focusing on moving their events so those who want to experience them can do so remotely. “We’ve been working with LGBTQ+ Western on both Western’s Pride celebration and lavender graduation, and making sure we can do them remotely, but also in ways that are meaningful and impactful,” King said.

King mentioned the importance of creating events for students who are separated from their queer communities. “Our focus is creating discreet queer programming, that’s why we have the weekly digital queer study hall,” they said. “It’s a study hall for all students, but exists for queer people to get together, in case they are living in an environment where being outed isn’t an option.”

The other centers have other options for events and programming during the quarter. “The Blue Resource Center recently hosted a legal information session for migrant students, as they’ve recently had a shift in needs due to COVID-19, and they want everyone to be aware that these resources exist,” Deysher said. 

According to Deysher, the Disability Outreach Center has been hosting digital game nights, the Legal Information Center has been focused on connecting with individuals digitally, and the Womxn’s Identity Resource Center has been hosting film and podcast discussion series.

SAIRC has also been working with other campus organizations to provide meal kits for food insecure students through their food pantry, WHOLE. “This has been a campus-wide collaboration,” Deysher said. The SAIRC is partnered with AS Outback Farm, Off-Campus Living, Enrollment and Student Services, and Dining Services to provide meal kits to around 117 individuals every Wednesday.

Christina Ngo, the SAIRC Marketing and Assessment Coordinator, works internally within the Associated Students to get the farthest reach possible through social media. With the pop-up pantry providing various ingredients for students, Ngo has created a blog with recipes using ingredients provided that week.

“As we worked with the Outback Farm to give out fresh veggies it was surprising how often students would ask us about the vegetables and how to use in their cooking aside from the ‘obvious’ methods like kale in salad or carrots as just a snack,” Ngo said. “I got the idea for this blog as a way to spread communal knowledge on how to utilize fresh seasonal ingredients in a variety of ways as well as having recipes in case folks came across an unfamiliar vegetable and wanted to be adventurous.”

Ngo has been collaborating with community members and students via word of mouth to build the blog from the ground up. “The hope is to have a larger variety of recipes that are more dietary restriction friendly, I am currently in search for more gluten free, vegan and vegetarian friendly options,” she said.

SAIRC has also been working with students individually, and has been hosting digital office hours via Microsoft Teams. During office hours, students can speak to the general staff members of SAIRC, as well as the staff members within each individual center. 

“We’d like to see more people at office hours,” Deysher said. “We want students to communicate what they want to see from us. More importantly, we need students to connect with each other for resources and support.”

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