Earlier this semester, USC was named one of Campus Pride’s Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities, an accolade the LGBT Resource Center received for the first time in 2006, just one year after becoming an official university department under Student Affairs.
Campus Pride is an organization dedicated to advocating for a safe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in college. Their rankings are meant to provide a national standard for LGBT policies and advocate for the needs of LGBT students.
Under the direction of former LGBT Resource Center Director Vincent Vigil, who left the center on Oct. 31, the Resource Center has worked closely with the Queer and Ally Student Assembly since the center’s establishment in 2005.
QuASA Executive Director Rebecca Grumet said in the past, QuASA and the Resource Center have collaborated to address LBGT issues on campus, but Vigil’s departure might impact QuASA’s future programming.
“It’s the dilemma that Glenn [Young, assistant director of QuASA,] and I are facing this year, how much of QuASA should be education and activism, and how much should be cultural and social,” Grumet said. “What I can say is the Resource Center picked up a lot of that educational programming, which we may absorb now.”
The Resource Center offers a variety of programs to engage the LGBT and ally communities, including a peer-mentoring program, discussion groups, a special interest residential community, an alumni network and scholarships.
QuASA Networking Chair Emily Huang said that the assortment of programs for LBGT students and allies is what sets the university apart.
“USC does make an effort to recognize diversity without isolating people,” Huang said. “I really, really like some of the programs that are being developed, especially when they highlight intersectionality. Especially in the resource center and cultural assemblies, they work to program things that will overlap and show how one identity can affect another.”
The center also holds events such as “Greek Chat” and “Athlete Chat,” which facilitate a more open discussion about sexuality in these sectors of campus, and oversees organizations such as the Jewish Alliance for GLBT’s and Straights, and Queer People of Color.
Kyron Richard, a sophomore majoring in public relations, said these groups allow LGBT students to explore other aspects of their identities and how they relate to gender and sexuality.
“People involved in those communities understand how difficult it can be to identify as a minority in this culture,” Richard said. “There’s a lot of intersectionality. For example, I’m part of LGBT, but I’m also an African-American student.”
In addition to the diverse interests and backgrounds of students in the LGBT community, the experiences of individuals within the community are just as varied.
“Coming out as trans[gender] is so different from coming out as [lesbian, gay or bisexual]. Any of those identities come with their own experiences,” Huang said.
Grumet said despite the challenges that the LGBT community at USC still face, the Resource Center and QuASA have come a long way since their establishments.
“We are becoming a more open assembly that can hopefully fit a wider spectrum of students’ needs and wants,” Grumet said. “I think our program is becoming more diverse in that way. We’re providing a bigger space than for just LGBT.”
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