University News

UCS, center directors discuss diversity action efforts

BCSC, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, LGBTQ Center leaders detail broad goals, specific plans

By
Staff Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2016

Leaders of three major identity-focused centers identified the importance of investing resources in more programming to support students of various marginalized identities.

The directors of three University resource centers emphasized the importance of creating safe spaces for a diverse student body in a meeting of the Undergraduate Council of Students Wednesday.

Brown Center for Students of Color Interim Director Joshua Segui, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center Director Gail Cohee and LGBTQ Center Director Kelly Garrett briefed general body members on the respective roles of their spaces, introducing their missions and updating the members on current projects.

“How does an institution include people who have been historically excluded?” Segui asked the group. The BCSC, he added, is a place where minority students can exist within the “complicated space” of the University.

All three directors spoke of a need for increased manpower and resources in serving their students. Segui highlighted the new Social Justice Peer Educators program that is designed to take some of the burden from Minority Peer Counselors, who have historically acted as the driving force behind diversity education programming across the board.

The educators were “a response to the need (for more resources) and to the fact that so much was being asked of the MPCs,” Segui said.

“Out of the three centers, the need is greatest at the LGBTQ Center,” Cohee said, noting that Garrett is the only full-time professional there. “All of us could use more programming help,” she added.

Collaboration among the three centers is widespread and important, Cohee said. “We are a united front, and we do everything together.”

The Women’s Center also focuses on more than simply gender identity, she added. “We try to make it clear to people that they don’t need to leave any of their identities at the door,” she said.

Garrett noted the push to increase the number of gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus as a primary focus of the LGBTQ Center. A current special project of the center is a survey to assess the opinions of the community on a redesigned sign for gender-inclusive bathrooms, she said.

A new identity management system, with an eye towards trans* students who use a different name than the one given to them at birth, is also in the works, Garrett added.

Increasing consciousness of one’s position in the University is a key part of the work of all three centers, Segui said. “Just because you’re a person of color doesn’t mean you’re not racist. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you’re not sexist,” he said. “We’re all socialized in the same ways, and we all need to be self-reflective.”

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