Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students have secured a resource center that could open as soon as Winter Quarter, university officials confirmed Tuesday.
The resource center will be located in an office on the third floor of Norris University Center and resulted from negotiations over the summer among members of the LGBT Support Network, Norris University Center Director Bill Johnston and Vice President of Student Affairs William Banis.
Johnston confirmed plans for the LGBT resource center Tuesday and added that he expects the office to be furnished soon. A sign already is posted above the door.
Equipped with a library and part-time faculty adviser, the center, situated among the student group offices housed in Norris, will strive to foster awareness of and offer comfort to LGBT students and supporters, according to Rainbow Alliance senator and former Daily Forum Editor John Hughes, who also serves as a board member for the Students Publishing Co., which oversees The Daily.
“We want a space serving a function similar to the Black House,” Hughes told The Daily in Spring Quarter. “At least, a room that holds 30 people.”
Originally, many students who supported the LGBT students said they would prefer a house on the west side of Sheridan Road for the facility, arguing that the spot in Norris is too visible and too small. Office L, the former home of Student Legal Services, is 11 feet by 11.5 feet and surrounded by several administrative offices.
Still, some members of the LGBT community said they think the space in Norris is a step in the right direction.
“In most scenarios most groups don’t start with their ideal location the first year,” said Elisabeth Lindsay, co-chairwoman of the LGBT Support Network and director of programs at the Women’s Center. She said it was more important just to have space that would suit the group’s needs if students required help.
The plan for an LGBT resource center follows ongoing dialogue between students and faculty about the feasibility of such a facility. University President Henry Bienen and Banis have said repeatedly that a center was not economically feasible, and universitywide budget cuts halted plans to hire a staff member for LGBT students.
In response the Associated Student Government passed a bill in May urging funding for a resource center, and the Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee requested that administrators reconsider their decision. Members of Rainbow Alliance also formed a task force to negotiate with administrators about the project.
Although the resource center will be on the third floor of Norris, administrators still are deciding on the facility’s features, Lindsay said. No matter what form the center takes takes, she said it will be open to all students rather than just LGBT organizations.
“We want it to serve a collaborative function, working with existing LGBT organizations as both a resource function and support function, not just for those who identify themselves at LGBT,” Lindsay said.
Rainbow Alliance is excited about the addition of the new resource center, Hughes said.
“We absolutely expect it’s going to make a tremendous contribution to the entire NU community, straight and gay,” he said.