There should be more attention given to LGBTQ community, faculty says

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Several staff and faculty met on Friday to discuss ways to make the LGBTQ community more visible on campus.

The meeting was prompted by a previous one between a few faculty members and American River College’s Pride Center Director Emilie Mitchell, where they discussed the center’s efforts and their progress.

“How do we do things that are more inclusive?” asked Dean of Student Success and Equity Tadael Emiru during the meeting.

In an email sent to faculty inviting them to attend the meeting, History Professor Gabriel Gorman said the LGBTQ community “does not appear to be truly recognized.”

English Professor Jose Alfaro said while he was a student at Cosumnes River College, he didn’t feel like there were many spaces for LGBTQ students on campus.

“I think there’s a need for institutional change and support for LGBTQ students within our community,” Alfaro said.

Anthropology Professor Anastasia Panagakos said the Social Responsibility Committee, in collaboration with the Safe Spaces program, conducted a climate survey last spring and said that while the results are still being put together, it is evident that students in LGBTQ the community do not feel welcome on campus.

The meeting was primarily held to introduce the plan of creating a Pride Center. Panagakos said the center would not only serve as a space for students to find resources, but for them to be able to be themselves and build a community as well.

During the meeting, some faculty and staff emphasized the collaboration between the Pride Center and student services like the Dream Center in order to promote intersectionality.

Alfaro said a space for LGBTQ students could be an opportunity for the campus to create a queer space that is “very conscious of other identities that intersect with it.”

“We allow our students to see that they don’t have to divide their identities,” Alfaro said. “They have support for each aspect of their lives.”

We allow our students to see that they don’t have to divide their identities.”

— Jose Alfaro

While a Pride Center will be in the works in the future, Emiru said during the meeting he doesn’t want faculty efforts to be centered solely around the physical space of a center. He later said there should be short-term goals they should be striving for within the next academic year.

“The ultimate goal, of course, is to have a Pride Center,” Gorman said. “What we can do now is create an LGBTQ community that is more visible and more supported.”

In the past, the Gay-Straight Alliance was an active club on campus, but Gorman said it had “fizzled out” due to the club president stepping down.

With the establishment of a Pride Center, Alfaro said faculty will also begin to be more conscious about standing in solidarity with students in the community, including queer students of color.

“It’ll help them be more mindful of equitable practices in the classroom,” Alfaro said.

Ultimately, Panagakos said there will be things coming up this spring that will hopefully be able to get students excited about possibilities for the future.

“Be patient with us as a campus,” Panagakos said. “The campus culture is moving in the right direction of being inclusive but we just have a lot of obstacles right now, and space really is the big one.”

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