LGBTQ+ Initiatives Hosts Student Listening Sessions

Maya Karkhanis, Contributing Writer

The Office of LGBTQ+ Initiatives held a series of listening sessions that sought to identify issues affecting LGBTQ+ students at Colgate on Feb. 2 , Feb. 8 and Feb. 9. The sessions focused on allowing a conversation to take place about the LGBTQ+ community’s experience on campus.

According to Tiffany Lane, the director of LGBTQ+ Initiatives at Colgate, the event was held “to give students an opportunity to voice their needs and concerns.”

The topics of the event varied from the need for more social spaces and more LGBTQ+ content in courses outside of LGBTQ studies and women’s studies, to how people can support the LGBTQ+ community outside of Colgate. According to Lane, the most important issue affecting LGBTQ+ students at Colgate is the lack of visibility for transgender and non-binary people, as these students report feeling isolated and a lack of belonging.

“We have a small out trans population on campus, making it challenging for some students to connect with others with similar identities,” Lane said.

When asked how Colgate students can be allies to their peers in the LGBTQ+ community, Lane answered:

“[Students can educate] themselves about issues impacting the community, get involved on campus to advocate for change and use their privilege to help underrepresented groups on campus.”

There are several ways students can take these actions on campus. The Office of LGBTQ+ Initiatives offers a variety of programming for students to become educated about the LGBTQ+ community and to learn how to offer support. A popular program is the LGBTQ Studies Program, which offers courses and a minor in LGBTQ Studies. These classes can help students obtain a greater understanding about the LGBTQ+ community, including its history in different cultures.

Colgate also has resources for student members of the LGBTQ+ community who are seeking help or a place on campus that can better understand their experiences and identity. Student-run groups such as Lambda and Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) as well as The ALANA Cultural Center, the Counseling Center, Haven, the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Shaw Wellness Institute offer supportive environments for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, some regional resources (not affiliated with Colgate) include ACR Health, CNY Pride, The Cortland LGBTQ Resource Center, The Transgender Health Services Network of CNY and many more.

It is clear that Colgate has more work to do before all LGBTQ+ students feel comfortable and included on campus, but local resources and University-sponsored events such as the Office of LGBTQ+ Initiatives Listening sessions can aid in this endeavor. The Office of LGBTQ+ Initiatives can be found in East Hall, for those who would like to become more involved in helping support the LGBTQ+ community on campus.