Student Affairs identifies new, “mid-term” space for the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center


Joanne Haner/Daily Senior Staffer

The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. Student Affairs has identified the first floor of house five in Foster-Walker Complex as a new space.

Ella Jeffries, Reporter

After over a year of student advocacy to expand the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to a house on Sheridan Road, Student Affairs has identified the first floor of house five in Foster-Walker Complex as a “mid-term solution” for the relocation, University spokesperson Erin Karter told The Daily Wednesday.

While the University plans to work on a longer-term solution, Karter said finding a space for the near future was a priority. 

“Northwestern understands that while adjustments have been made to the current GSRC over time, the current space is far too small and needs to change,” Karter told the Daily in an email. 

Last year, Associated Student Government passed legislation proposed by Rainbow Alliance to relocate the GSRC to a house on Sheridan Road. 

According to the 2020 ASG Student Survey, 22.4% of responding NU students self-identified as queer. Rainbow Alliance External President Jo Scaletty said this percentage equates to about 2,000 students who could potentially use the GSRC. However, the current two-room space on the third floor of Norris University Center can only hold a maximum of 10 people, according to the resolution. 

“We are still in that current space, and it’s unacceptable,” Scaletty said. “The idea that we were put into a renovated closet that hasn’t changed much over the years shows we really need to work for more visibility and space.” 

The new Foster-Walker Complex location will be larger than the current Norris space and near Campus Inclusion & Community offices and resources, Karter said. 

While the University has identified a new space, Karter said it is still developing a project timeline for the relocation. Student Affairs plans to engage LGBTQ+ students to determine priorities for the space, including floor plan adjustments. 

The University also must determine resources needed for the move, along with revised policies and procedures for the GSRC since it will no longer be located in Norris, Karter said.

“Work will continue on a longer-term solution for the GSRC,” Karter added. “However, it was important to identify this mid-range solution given the expressed needs of our LGBTQIA community.” 

When envisioning what the future space will look like for students, Scaletty said they hope it will be an open space for support and community, with a conference room to plan queer events and an expanded library for the center’s current collection of over 300 queer-themed books. 

Scaletty also said they would like to see a significant expansion of resources, such as a closet for trans students, which would help students overcome financial and privacy invasion barriers that often accompany transitioning. 

Since ASG passed its resolution, Executive Director of Campus Inclusion and Community Daviree Velázquez Phillip has met quarterly with Scaletty and Vice President for Student Affairs Julie Payne-Kirchmeier to check on the GSRC’s progress.

Phillip said she values her relationships with Rainbow Alliance and Multicultural Student Affairs, which help her ensure the University commits to moving the relocation process along so students can benefit from the new space.

“The relocation and expansion of the GSRC will offer a space that more adequately supports community building, allows for better resource allocation and increases opportunities for visibility and advocacy of students,” Phillip said.

Scaletty emphasized the importance of continuing the conversations that started with their proposal even when they are no longer a student at NU. 

“Whoever the next president (of Rainbow Alliance) is, it will be important for me to sit down and have conversations with them about how to keep pushing for an active queer space,” Scaletty said.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @ellajeffriess 

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