LGBT resource center gears up for new students
As Grand Valley State University students and faculty adjust to a new semester, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center is planning events to welcome new and returning students back to campus.
Colette Seguin Beighley, LGBT resource center director, said the events are designed to, “draw people to the center and to welcome students.”
“The first month is focused on welcoming and situating students on campus,” she said. “It’s important to be able to create those meaningful relationships right away.”
Seguin Beighley is involved in the planning of two social events that will start off the semester. The first is the transgender and gender non-conforming student reception, which happens today at 4 p.m. This will be the third time this social has happened on campus.
“Transgender people have gotten more visibility recently,” she said. “We need to examine how the transgender experience is being seen in new ways.”
The second is the Rainbow Social, occurring at 7 p.m. on Sept. 3. This is the second time the event has been held on campus. Music, refreshments and a drag show are included.
Also on Sept. 3 is the year’s first queer lunch, where students can learn about the resources and programs happening at the LGBT center this semester.
Some of these resources include student organizations, such as the First Year Queer Alliance and Loud & Queer. Both groups focus on the social and educational aspects of college and meet weekly near the LGBT center. While the First Year Queer Alliance is geared toward freshmen, Loud & Queer is for second year students or older.
“It’s important because students come to campus and they are exploring new gender or sexual identities,” Seguin Beighley said. “We want to create a community for them.”
Campus Life Night is another opportunity for the LGBT center to promote its events. This campus-wide event happens on Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.
Seguin Beighley said the center will pass out information, interact with students and tell them about justice training programs such as the ally training program. She said they will have sign-up sheets for students to join if they see something that interests them.
“We serve all students, not just LGBT students,” she said. “We want to create a welcoming climate by educating the campus community on what it means to be an ally.”
She added that the LGBT center is starting to promote the Change U program, a social justice training session. Though the program does not start until the winter semester, online registration will open soon. The program has changed every year, but this year they are planning four all-day Saturday workshops.
Seguin Beighley said the biggest LGBT event this semester will be the renaming ceremony. The center will be renamed the Milton E. Ford LGBT resource center, in honor of the late founder. She added that after Ford’s death last spring, 400 alumni have connected with the LGBT center. As a result, a new LGBT alumni chapter has been created at GVSU. Many of them will attend the renaming ceremony and next semester, some will give presentations with advice on what students can expect after college. The official date of the ceremony is still unknown, but it is being planned for November.