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The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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New GSRC facility marks milestone in campus LGBTQIA+ resources

Sonya Dymova/The Daily Northwestern
The new Gender Sexuality Resource Center, located on the first floor of Foster-Walker Complex, opened its doors in October.

The first day Jo Scaletty (Communication ’23) arrived on Northwestern’s campus, they began working for Multicultural Student Affairs as a student adviser. 

Part of the job was working shifts each week at the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, then located on the third floor of Norris University Center. But, Scaletty also found themselves gravitating there as a space to connect with other queer students.

“It was a home based away from my dorm or apartment,” Scaletty said. “There were multiple weeks where I was there every day.”

Started in 2004, the 650-square-foot former GSRC facility consisted of two rooms with a maximum capacity of 10 students. Many students expressed concern over the years that the center was too small and lacked  privacy. 

In their sophomore year, Scaletty, who served as the Associated Student Government Rainbow Alliance Senator, helped draft legislation to relocate the GSRC facility and submitted it to the student senate. The motion unanimously passed.

Over the next two years, Scaletty and other executive board members of the Rainbow Alliance held a series of discussions with NU administration to settle on a new location and help secure funding for the permanent facility.

The new GSRC, located on the first floor of Foster-Walker Complex, opened its doors in October. 

The space, nearly triple the size of the previous location in Norris, features a boardroom, a library, a reception space, a student exhibition and a TV lounge. Rainbow stripes adorn the lounge, interspersed with various pieces of artwork. Students can inscribe their names and respond to a “prompt of the week” written on glass mirrors, which greet visitors upon entering the center. 

“This (center) was a step in the right direction, allowing queer students to feel more represented and to feel more safe and to provide a more open and bigger space for the community,” Scaletty said.

The GSRC serves as a common space for students to socialize and host meetings for LGBTQIA+ student groups on campus, including Rainbow Alliance and the NU Society of Transgender and Non-Binary Students.

“It is sort of a physical manifestation of the community that has always existed here,” said Weinberg junior Maddie Kerr, who began stopping by the facility following the move. “There is a space here physically and emotionally for queer students together.”

The center also plans various activities, including Queer Book Club discussions, drag shows, arts and crafts, and weekly Tuesday Tea events, in which students can chat with staff on how to navigate University gender and sexuality resources.

Matthew Abtahi, the director and sole employee in the office space, said it’s important to continue implementing additional changes, particularly in all-gender housing and faculty treatment of trans and non-binary students.

“It’s a starting point,” Abtahi said. “I think if we continue to misstep in every other direction, as it relates to serving the student population, a single center will not solve the University’s problems.”

Medill junior Max Sullivan works as an office assistant for the center. They said one of their professors last quarter had repeatedly misgendered them without changing their behavior.

During this time, spending time at the GSRC center and talking with Abtani helped them navigate the situation, they added.

“The newly expanded GSRC space is a significant step, allowing us to provide even more programming, resources, and opportunities to support and build community among our students,” Tabitha Wiggins, Assistant Vice President for Campus Inclusion & Community told The Daily in a statement.

Wiggins added that the office plans to connect with more student organizations and aims to nurture an environment where LGBTQIA+ students can thrive.

For many students, the upgraded space brings opportunities for new experiences while continuing to provide a much-needed safe space on campus.

“I think the nature of having a space like this is that there are going to be a lot of things that feel small in the moment, but really contribute to your overall sense of comfort and safety in the community over time,” Sullivan said.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect Matthew Abtahi’s position.

Email: [email protected] 

X: @Jerrwu

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