LGBT Resources seeks status as ‘center’ at UI

By Lisa Chung

The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resources of the University opened its doors in the Illini Union in 1993.

The office was able to become a useful resource for students when it received enough funding to employ a full-time staff in 2005, said Director Curt McKay.

The staff of the office is now working to change its name to one that would include “center” to provide a more appropriate image of the office, said Bill Riley, associate vice chancellor and dean of students.

The office should be elevated to have the same status as the cultural centers on campus because the LGBT population on campus is just as important in recognizing diversity, McKay said.

“Our status within the (Office of the) Dean of Students is the same, but if we’re lumped together (with the cultural houses and the Office of Women’s Programs), it would make sense to me that we would be recognized as a center,” he added.

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The difference between a center or an office is partly a measure of status and stature on the campus.

Incorporating center into the name of what is now titled the Office of LGBT Resources represents what the staff does in a broader image, Riley said.

“It’s more in the presentation of what they do, to be more accurate in how the campus perceives their image,” he added.

Being recognized as a center will also help create a “fully valid voice” for the LGBT community, McKay said.

“At this point, we’re building support for the center idea around campus to see whose support it is going to take,” he said. On Monday, there will be a town hall meeting to discuss ideas on how to improve LGBT resources on campus, including the office’s name change.

The Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns at the University of Illinois-Chicago campus is also working to change the name of its office, said Patrick Finnessy, the office’s director.

Finnessy is gathering opinions from students of the Chicago campus regarding the name change and taking suggestions.

By being called center, Finnessy said that the mission of the office will be more clear to people.

“Part of it is more recognition and validity,” Finnessy said. “It’s more authentic to the work that we’re actually doing.”

The office serves as a resource for students of the campus, he said.

The name change will also be more inclusive because it will aim to recognize allies, the GLBT community and others with sexuality concerns, he added.

Changing the name of the University’s Office of LGBT Resources, Riley said, will “provide a more appropriate image of the office.”

Town Hall meeting

Who: The Office of LGBT Resources and the Office of Women’s Programs

What: The offices’ directors want to hear your ideas on how to improve these resources on campus

Where: Illini Union Room 407

When: Monday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m.