Celebrating Points of Pride
UI reflects on milestones in creating a welcoming environment for LGBTQ community
By Sara Epstein Moninger | Iowa Now | 11/10/2016
As Chanelle Thomas approaches the two-story white house nestled in the ravine southeast of the Field House, she cranes her neck, then lets out a short gasp.
“It’s gone,” she says, a smile spreading across her face. “It’s all gone.”
Gone is a wooden privacy fence that, until recently, had made the property feel isolated from the rest of the University of Iowa campus, Thomas explains. The house, built in 1922 on Grand Avenue Court, is home to the university’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Resource Center, one of four cultural centers on campus. Removing the fence was part of a constituent-led UI initiative to make the center look and feel more accessible. Other improvements made over the summer included connecting the house to the university’s technology and communications network and modifying a Cambus route to make the house easier for students to reach.
“Having all the centers on the campus grid is a big deal. Progress is being made,” says Thomas, coordinator of the LGBTQ Resource Center and a graduate student in the UI College of Education. “Students are realizing their voice is strong, and that’s exciting.”
In fact, the resource center celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall thanks to a small group of motivated students who rekindled an effort to establish a physical space on campus for the LGBTQ community. Armed with research that suggested the UI was starting to slip behind its peers in creating a welcoming environment, the students submitted a proposal in 2005 to then-President David Skorton, who gave them the green light and asked Facilities Management to work on site selection. A year later, the center opened in its current location near the Westside residence halls and cultural centers.
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