The new Cross Cultural and Gender Center is now open to provide more services and resources to Fresno State’s diverse student population and continue fulfilling the University’s diversity goals.

Recruitment for volunteer peer counselors/educators for the upcoming academic year is now underway. The Peers Supporting Peers program supports students in crisis and helps students with problem solving in difficult school and life situations.

The program evolves from the Center for Women and Culture, which housed the now defunct Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute and the Women’s Resource Center. Several of the programs will continue within the new, upgraded center.

Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, said the center will allow colleagues across campus to partner in addressing matters of diversity and inclusion to achieve the center’s vision of “creating and maintaining a campus of respect, inclusion and equal opportunity; where all members of the campus community thrive, free from oppression and discrimination.”

The University defines diversity as individual differences (personality, language, learning styles and life experiences) and group/social differences (race/ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and sexual identity, country of origin and ability status as well as cultural, political, religious or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.

“Welcoming every group and every issue counts when it comes to diversity at Fresno State,” Lamas said. “We encourage input and participation from every aspect of the University community as we continue to work toward being an ever more culturally competent institution of higher education.”

The new center is part of the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and will be under the direction of Dr. Francine L. Oputa, who was previously director of the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute and the Women’s Resource Center.

The new center will focus on three areas:

  • Gender programs and services (inclusive of women, men, transgender, pangender, genderfluid and other non-binary gender identities)
  • Cross-cultural programs and services
  • LGBTQ+ programs and services

Oputa, with the assistance of graduate and undergraduate students, will focus on programs for African American, European American, Asian Pacific Islander and all other ethnic and cultural groups.

Assigned to coordinate the various areas are:

  • Jessica Adams, former coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center, who will coordinate gender programs and services and LGBTQ programs and services

University events such as the one-day National Coalition Building Institute diversity workshop for faculty, staff and students and Diversity Awareness Week will continue to be presented by the new center. The 2015-16 schedule is available online.

Gender programs and services will continue to organize student clubs, offer weekly discussion groups and host annual events such as Take Back the Night and Women’s Herstory Month.

The center includes volunteer peer counselors/educators who meet with students to provide support, advocacy and referrals. They receive over 25 hours of training from on- and off-campus organizations on topics such as problem solving, crisis intervention, suicide prevention and reporting mandates.

Volunteer applications for the upcoming academic year are available in the Thomas Administration Building, Room 110.

The center’s $300,000 budget is funded by the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and the Office of the President.

For more information about the Cross Cultural and Gender Center, visit www/ To get involved, contact 559.278.4435 or

(Erika Denise Castañon, University Communications news assistant, contributed to this copy.)

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