*Editor’s note: Since publication of this article, the group has found out it will not be getting a space. The funds raised will be used to do something different.
By Olivia Rizzo
In today’s world, many young adults find themselves battling bullying and harassment at school. This can be a particular struggle for those who are a part of the LGBTQIAP+ community. A group of College students hopes to alleviate some of that struggle with the foundation of the PRIDE Center.
The PRIDE Center will be a school-sanctioned space that is aimed to be a social, academic and safe space for the LGBTQIAP+ community at the College. It is meant to be an inclusionary space that will provide the College a safe place to socialize and discuss topics and issues prevalent in the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as being a place to host club and group meetings.
The idea for the PRIDE Center began as the capstone project for the women’s and social change class. Seniors Amanda Castro, Catherine Inoa, Rose Samonsi, Victoria Swift and Lauren Wescott were having a conversation with women’s and gender studies professor Nelson Rodriguez when he brought up the College’s need for an LGTBQ center on campus.
The ladies in the class then began to research LGBTQ centers and discovered that many colleges and universities have such spaces on campus. They found that schools in the area, like Rutgers and Princeton, have LGBTQ centers and then began to look into what it would take to start such a center at the College.
“Currently, we do not have a school-sanctioned center that serves the LGBTQIAP+ community, and we feel that this is a gap at (the College),” senior English major Samantha Pena said.
She also stated that the Center will show that the campus stands in solidarity against harassment and bullying that may occur on campus.
The PRIDE Center’s home will be in Forcina Hall and is planned to open at the end of the semester. Fundraising to furnish the center with couches, books, computers and other supplies is ongoing. The goal for the PRIDE Center is to provide a library of books and other informative materials for students to use to further learn about the LGBTQIAP+ community.
“We hope that people will use our center as an educational resource that will supplement the learning of issues of gender and sexuality in a positive and healthy way,” Pena said.
On a social level, the PRIDE Center is meant to have an inclusive and accepting atmosphere. It will be open to any member of the campus community as long as they abide by the Center’s rules. The space is meant to build a sense of community for and by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and questioning people and their allies.
“We want this Center to truly be a safe and social environment, where every person who falls under the LGBTQIAP+ umbrella can get to know and hopefully befriend one another,” Pena said.
The Center also hopes to co-sponsor with other student groups and host its events with guest speakers and workshops to help foster out-of-the-class learning in the future.
In addition, the PRIDE Center will show students, staff and others interested at the College that the campus is a community open to change and equality.