The Women's Studies Department at CSULB was recently honored with a proclamation brought forth by Long Beach city councilmembers Gary Delong (3rd District) and Tonia Reyes Uranga (7th District) in recognition of March as Women's History Month. On hand at the ceremony was CSULB President F. King Alexander.
"On behalf of the faculty of the Department of Women's Studies at Cal State Long Beach, I want to tell you how appreciative we are of this honor and how it is both our profound privilege and our responsibility to be educating students and to give them the academic skills and knowledge to make them gender literate global citizens actively working for social justice in their chosen careers," said Wendy Griffin, the department chair who joined the university in 1985.
"I think it's extremely important for us to understand our past in order to effectively nurture our future," said Uranga. "On behalf of Women's History Month, I'd like to acknowledge and recognize Women's Studies. They have a very diverse and comprehensive curriculum that includes such lower-division general education courses as 'Women and their Bodies' and 'Women in Contemporary Society' as well as such upper-division classes as 'Principles of Feminism,' 'Women and Environmental Justice: Eco-Feminism,' 'Latino Women in the United States' and 'Women and Political Theory.' Women's Studies has done an amazing job in recognizing the diversity of women and the issues they face. They have created not only a consciousness of women's issues, but they have delivered this program successfully to one of the largest school in the Cal State system."
Uranga praised CSULB's Women's Studies Department. "It is a positive thing for Long Beach to have CSULB in its back yard," she said. "It has worked to nurture the entire community. CSULB has been a source of social activism and a seat of learning. It teaches students that the world doesn't end at the edge of campus. Women's Studies at CSULB shows students how to put into play everything they learned in the classroom."
Uranga, who is currently seeking the 54th Assembly seat to replace termed-out Betty Karnette, is also a governing board member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), representing 61 cities of the Los Angeles Counties -- Eastern Region. She also is chair of the Long Beach City Council's newly formed Environmental Committee and the I-710 Oversight Committee.
The public celebration of women's history in the United States began in 1978 as "Women's History Week" in Sonoma County, Calif. In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration, and March was declared Women's History Month.
"Women have made tremendous strides in this country but many women don't know that," said Uranga. "Many of these achievements have entered the mainstream. Women have entered politics and education all over the country. With all this success, there is a tendency to think American women have made it, but they haven't made it all the way. This resolution is a way to acknowledge Women's Studies for helping make progress. It is good we are recognizing Women's History Month but what Women's Studies does at CSULB is to make every month about women's history. It is a way of letting our daughters know their history of struggle and that this struggle is ongoing."
Griffin expressed pride and satisfaction in the city council's proclamation. "We are deeply honored that our work was recognized by the Long Beach City Council," she said. "We were additionally honored that President F. King Alexander personally came to the council meeting to congratulate us."
Griffin looks forward to a bright future for Women's Studies at CSULB. "We are still fairly new," she said. "We earned departmental status in 1995 and graduated our first official majors in 1997. Currently, we are exploring the possibility of a graduate certificate in Women's Studies and, eventually, of course, we expect to be able to offer a graduate degree."