Amid rainbow streamers in celebration of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, the Queer Resource Center has announced its proposal for the creation of a Gender and Sexuality Center. Margaret Borchert, co-coordinator for the Queer Resource Center, explained, “We thought Coming Out Day would be the perfect day for us to ‘come out’ with our proposal.”
According to Borchert, a diverse assemblage of students representing the QRC, QPA, Trisk, Trans*Brandeis and the Student Union organizations on campus are working in collaboration to spearhead the creation of the new center. The proposal further ecompasses the creation of a full time Gender and Sexuality Counselor.
Alex Thomson, a student representative to the Board of Trustees and a member of the Student Union E-Board, said, “The center will address a crucial need on campus—helping to provide a safe space for queer identified students.”
In addition to the continued coordination of LGBTQ initiatives and educational resources such as the Brandeis Safe Space Allies Training, Thomson reveals that the new center will seek to prevent and adequately respond to homophobic or transphobic incidents. He further cites the goal of “student leadership development for our LGBTQ and ally student organizations, including more oversight and administrative assistance for student run programs.”
Although there are numerous resources currently available for members of the LGBTQ community, the proposed Gender and Sexuality Center along with the creation of a full-time counselor position is aimed at filling a void on campus. According to Thomson, “This service will provide an essential service that is impossible for a student-run organization to fully address.”
While other organizations on campus employ peer counselors, the new center is seeking to hire a full-time counselor better equipped to meet the needs of students. Qualifications for the position will include a master’s degree in a relevant field and three to five years prior experience, among other requirements. “Knowledge and understanding of intersecting multiple identities and interlocking systems of oppression is necessary,” Thomson elaborated.
Currently, Jessica Pedrick, whom Berchert describes as a wonderful addition to the Brandeis Community, serves as a part-time coordinator for Gender and Sexuality Diversity. Thomson cites the hope for Pedrick to fulfill the full-time position as well if created.
The position of the full-time counselor will entail being responsible for a variety of tasks, including implementing educational awareness programs, facilitating a nurturing environment for members of the LGBTQ community, providing crisis counseling for students and families and advising current clubs on campus, amongst various other duties. In addition, Thomson explained, “This center will serve as a programming hub for the queer student groups on campus and will be the main resource space for students to access.”
In order to better serve the queer community on campus, the Center also will receive a budget separate from other student-led organizations such as the QRC and Trisk.
“The Gender and Sexuality Center will provide a safe space for all queer-identified students on campus to fully express themselves without fear for safety or comfort,” Thomson said.
Although currently the proposal for Gender and Sexuality Center and the creation of a full-time counselor position are only preliminary, the student task force plans to meet with Andrew Flagel, senior vice president of students and enrollment, and Jamele Adams, dean of student life, this Friday. Ideally, the center will gain approval for funding and be established by the next academic year.
Correction: Alex Thomson was previously referred to as a coordinator of the QRC. He is instead a student representative to the Board of Trustees and a member of the Student Union E-Board.