Women’s Circle at UH aims to create safe space

Weekly sessions will include tips for making friends, doing well in classes
Students discuss and document group rules and guidelines at the debut meeting of the Womens Circle at UH Mānoa.
Students discuss and document group rules and guidelines at the debut meeting of the Women’s Circle at UH Mānoa.
Emma Caires

With Covid-19 concerns fading, at least in terms of social contact, UH students have been looking for new ways to build friendships around campus. One new option: The Women’s Circle.

Jamie Newalu, a staff member known as a Confidential Mānoa Advocate, welcomed a half-dozen new members to the group Thursday, as it kicked off weekly sessions that will continue on Thursdays, through Nov. 16. Those will be offered from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in room 208 of the Queen Liliʻuokalani Center for Student Services.

“We’re here to create a system of support and get people to know each other and make those solid connections,” said Newalu, a specialist in confidential Title IX matters.

The first session included discussions about friendships, academics, romantic relationships and other topics raised by the students in attendance.

Stephanie Maldonado, a second-year graduate student in the social work program, said she attended to find people on campus she can relate to, and feel welcomed by, adding, “I honestly just want a new way to meet people. I feel like finding people I can really relate to is kind of hard, so I think this is a cool way to build new connections.”

This Women’s Circle is open to all students, Newalu said, not just those who identify as female. Newalu’s only expectation, she said, is that those who join are true allies of each other and have the intention of fostering a safe space.

“My biggest hope for those that participate is that they walk away feeling like they made connections,” Newalu said. “I want them to feel seen, supported and heard.”

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