Clubs such as Queer People of Color, TransAction, TransSpace, The Ace Place, and Queer Voice Coalition have reserved and utilized many empty rooms on campus for years, but until now there hasn’t been an appointed LGBTQIA space on campus. Queer spaces can be found at multiple other colleges, and has been discussed as something for SLC for years. Finally this semester, a space has been established among the other student identity spaces.
“I think having a space deliberately carved out for these types of conversations and this type of activism is going to be really important in unifying the different types of conversations and types of activism that are currently going on on campus, and I think kind of filtering them out into a space will make all those conversations more powerful than they have been,” says Deane Silsby, ’17, who, along with Harry Barrick ’17, has been heavily involved with the new space.
This space can be repurposed for many aspects of the queer community on campus. The LGBTQIA space will act as a resource center, a library, a place for events, a lounge - the possibilities are endless.
People who have been planning for the LGBTQIA Space have been using Common Ground as the framework for the queer space. Like Common Ground, this will be a student-run space. However, we may see some faculty involvement in the future. “The space was the result of student initiative, which is as it should be. I will certainly become involved if I am asked to be, if there is some way in which I can be helpful. But the space will flourish as a result of students’ efforts,” says Julie Abraham, queer studies professor at SLC.
Another commonality of the queer space with Common Ground is the use of swipe access to the room. Natalie Gross, Director of Diversity at the College, explains, “There is swipe access for students who are involved in the identity groups that fall under the mission of each respective space, and so like with Common Ground, you don’t have to be a student of color to have swipe access to that space as long as you’re in one of those identity groups.” She continues, “With the LGBTQIA space you don’t have to be a person who identifies under the overarching umbrella of LGBTQIA, you can be in allyship as long as you’re an active member of one of those groups that will meet in that space.”
The space will be on the third floor of Bates beside the Student Publications room. This is mostly due to the fact that many other student spaces, like Spiritual Space and Common Ground, are also in Bates. The space currently has a sectional couch, several chairs, and a pre-installed counter on one wall. Once finished, there will be a mini-fridge, a coffee beverage area, a computer, a printer, a television, and whatever else will enhance the atmosphere.
Some students think this space can be a way to network with other schools and communities. “[We could maybe get] involved with community partnerships; I know that there is a place in the city that I volunteer at and I know TransAction* was thinking about planning a trip there to volunteer, which could be cool,” says Kay Deihl ’17.
“It’s been a really long time coming and I hope that students utilize the space and take care of the space and love the space,” Natalie Gross adds. “Hopefully they come to learn why we have spaces like the LGBTQIA space, Common Ground, and spiritual space on campus and how important they are for all of us to have these places and how important it is to really just continue to learn more and not rely on the fact that we are an open, accepting, diverse, community but really put that into practice.”
It’s been noted that this space will be included in tours, queer students’ artwork will be showcased, and events from the space will be advertised across campus. All of this will lesson isolation and increase the ways in which LGBTQIA students can both celebrate their identities and work towards creating a safer campus.