New LGBTQA Resource Center set to become 'cultural hub'
Gallaudet has opened its first unit focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students, as well as their allies. The LGBTQA Resource Center includes a resource library and free information and giveaways, all in a space that also serves as a study lounge or just a place to unwind and relax. The Resource Center is staffed by graduate student Patrick Hutt, a first-year interpreting major who says he is always happy to answer questions, recommend a book to read or group to join, or just chat. The new center is located on the first floor of the Hall Memorial Building, in room 113N.
"I foresee this as being the cultural hub of LGBTQA events on campus," said Hutt. "College is where many people come out," he explained, making this space all the more critical. While Gallaudet has various groups and programs to support students as they explore who they are and where they want to be, never before have these programs come together in one place.
In addition, the LGBTQA Resource Center will serve as the first initiative for this community run by the University. It will provide a constant presence, regardless of leadership changes in volunteer-led entities like the Rainbow Society; Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays (also known as PFLAG); and the Safe Zone program.
Eloise Molock, director of the Resource Center of Multicultural Student Affairs, oversees the daily operations of the Resource Center and was instrumental in helping to bring the project to fruition, under the guidance of Interim Associate Provost for Diversity Ann Powell and Provost Stephen Weiner. Molock looks forward to guiding the project, and has joined the Consortium of Higher Education LGBTQA Resource Professionals to stay abreast of current trends and best practices in the field, as well as share and discover new ideas for programs and services.
The LGBTQA Resource Center opened on October 11, coinciding with National Coming Out Day. Hutt said that about 150 visitors--students, faculty, staff, and administrators--attended an open house for the new Resource Center. They stopped by to sit on the comfortable couch or chairs to chat, peruse the book collection, take a brochure about LGBTQA resources in Washington, D.C., or select a free button, badge, or temporary tattoo.
Juanita Foreman of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), also made a visit on the opening day. Foreman is an Resource Centerr with the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit who has seen Resource Centers like this one become a fixture on many college campuses. She looks forward to seeing MPD Resource Centerrs work with the Department of Public Safety to increase its awareness of the LGBTQA community at Gallaudet.
Future initiatives on Molock and Hutt's list are a coming out support group, movie nights, lectures, and discussion forums in the residence halls. Education and support are two pillars of this work. The more information available to students as they come out, Hutt said, the more equipped they will be to build healthy relationships and face challenges. Greater awareness and support contribute to a sense of belonging and better overall campus experience--a key factor in keeping students on track to graduate.
During the weeks since the open house, Hutt has noted that there has been an increased traffic flow, with more people using the resource materials or stopping by just hang out and talk or study. In addition to several donations, Hutt indicated that everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of new books recently ordered for the resource library. These books will be available for loan to the campus community.
Over Homecoming weekend, the LGBTQA Resource Center held another open house, this time targeted toward alumni. About 40 people stopped by to see the new addition.
Hutt pointed out that though the LGBTQA Resource Center is a University project, it is individuals on campus who will make it thrive. "Come and volunteer," Hutt said, "and make this something we all can be proud of."