New University LGBT Center a step in right direction - The Daily Athenaeum: Columns

New University LGBT Center a step in right direction

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Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 4:50 am

The impending addition of an LGBT studies center at WVU is a huge step in the right direction for the school’s future.

Among our peer institutions within the Big 12, we are one of only three schools that do not already have a center dedicated solely to addressing and researching issues pertaining solely to the LGBT community.

If that wasn’t bad enough, some of these schools have been ahead of us in this area for as many as 15 years.

Furthermore, the current Campus Pride Index, which is ranked on a scale of 1 through 5, is a shocking 1.5 in comparison to the next lowest being a 3 among our peer institutions.

Considering most of these states are ironically Republican strongholds, with the exception of maybe Iowa, it does not bode well the issues LQBT students and faculty face on campus and within the community have been somewhat overlooked to date. Clearly there is more work to be done on the topic on WVU’s campus.

However, with the recent focus on a LGBT center and expanded efforts to address potential bullying on campus, as well as the work of multiple student organizations focused toward like causes, there is a forthcoming and very positive correlation between the increased focus WVU has put forward with regard to both equality and protection against discrimination.

There has been a consistent effort within the Student Government Association’s current administration to lobby for the center. Not only that, but among their master project list – viewable on the SGA website – are other related projects such as gender-neutral bathrooms and a Student Diversity Group. They should absolutely be applauded and congratulated for their hard work.

At the end of the day though, it comes down to the senior administration and the Board of Governors at WVU to act decisively on the topic at hand. They, too, ultimately deserve the credit for taking the necessary steps to further WVU’s Strategic 2020 plan.

By implementing these steps, the WVU campus becomes more LGBT friendly ,and it will ultimately lead to better understanding of the issues that some of our fellow Mountaineers face on a day-to-day basis.

The idea that no student, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or sex should ever have to face bullying or any sort of discrimination should be at the very core of a college institution’s mission. In doing so, WVU only proves it is further striving to fulfill its mandates by the state of West Virginia.

This will not only serve as a center for advocacy and research, but it will also be a place where students can congregate and form a sort of campus pride that their alma mater is a place where diversity is both celebrated and valued; it will ingrain the idea that a facet of who you are does not explicitly define you as a person.

In a future context, one would hope implementation of these steps will serve the aforementioned purposes, and also pay future dividends on multiple levels for the investment WVU is about to make.

While sometimes the wheels of justice move slower than we would like, in the end, we hope the good will win out. Collectively as an institution, a state and a country, we must continue to strive wholeheartedly for equality for all Americans.

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