Brandeis’ Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) works to create a “diverse and inclusive institution for women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual (LGBTQ) faculty, staff, and students.” They trace LGBTQ life at Brandeis back to the university’s founding, adding that “Over the decades, stories of struggle, solidarity and hope have been published by independent student newspapers, including Brandeis participation in the historic National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights of 1979.”
The GSC hosts several programs, including the GSC Pride Reps Program, “a compensated year-long leadership development program designed to help undergraduate students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be effective peer mentors on matters of gender and sexuality,” and the Leaders Roundtable, “a monthly focus group to enhance communication, marketing, collaboration and collective visioning for the inclusion of women and LGBTQ communities at Brandeis.”
Soon, the GSC will be hosting National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, where multiple professors will be speaking on “Queer Poetry, Queer Romcoms and Sexuality and AIDS Activism in India.”
In an interview with The Hoot, Inaugural Director Julián Cancino spoke in depth about what makes the GSC unique. Cancino noted that the GSC is “open to all students who are interested in inclusion of women and LGBTQ students.”
Speaking on the GSC’s Pride Reps program, Cancino noted that “students of any gender identity or sexual orientation could be part of this cohort. The idea, since the beginning, was to be of service to others. Pride Reps really worked on themselves in order to be of service to others.”
Cancino added that “this year we are partnering with Community Living (DCL) to match those first year students with our Pride Reps. … I’m excited … to really create a network of support for first year students when they come into campus, to know that they will have a name, a face and a person that they can reach out to for any support or guidance. … We find that that makes the experience of coming to college less lonely [and] less daunting.” Specifically, Cancino mentioned that the Pride Reps are handwriting welcome cards to over 100 students who have been matched with Pride Reps.
Cancino also spoke on the GSC’s Leaders Roundtable program, where “leaders from different clubs come together once a month to talk about issues that are important to LGBTQ life at Brandeis. Many club leaders understand that their responsibility as leaders, as e-board members, is not just to their membership, but really to use their club as a platform to make Brandeis a more inclusive campus.”
Cancino noted that this program grew from “many students [dropping by] one-on-ones. [and asking] “‘Hey Julián, we have this question [about club leadership], what do we do?’ And I said, ‘talk to each other!’” Cancino then decided to call a meeting, inviting leaders of the “mission-aligned clubs.” He noted that these meetings have been productive, but that most problems have “no easy answers, and that’s okay!” He added that the group meets once a month and “this upcoming month we’ll be looking at Marathon and how to support students asking for what they need.”
In closing, Cancino wants students to know that “there’s never no reason to not be engaged.” The GSC can be found at Usdan G-069, and will be hosting events throughout the academic year.