An open town hall meeting held Tuesday evening at the University of Connecticut’s Rainbow Center addressed issues and concerns faced by UConn’s LGBTQ community and the steps the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) might take to address them.
Zachary Corolla, a USG senator elected to represent the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), chairperson for student development of USG and an eighth-semester Spanish major, hosted the meeting.
“My goal of this event was to address the concerns and needs of queer students on campus, which unfortunately are often overlooked, even within conversations about diversity,” Corolla said. “I hope that the legislation that I’m bringing to (USG) Senate can serve as an action plan or a road map for administration or future students on what can be done in order to make UConn more queer inclusive.”
As the meeting began, Corolla handed out a proposed piece of USG legislation titled, “A Joint Resolution Concerning Queer Inclusivity On Campus” that will be brought to USG for approval at its meeting next week which outlines goals for LGBTQ inclusivity on campus. These goals include expanding gender inclusive housing, creating an LGBTQIA+ learning community, implementing an online system allowing students to list which pronouns they prefer to use and increasing the number of queer-themed classes.
Corolla cited a New York Times article that references the Princeton Review ranking UConn in 1999 as the 12th most homophobic university in America following a group of 21 anti-gay bias incidents that occurred on campus.
According to a Hartford Courant article, UConn has since taken steps to establish more supportive and safe environment for students so that by 2011 the university was listed in “The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students.”
Corolla then went over the legislation’s goals and opened the discussion, which continued for over an hour, to the students who came to the meeting. Each of the event attendees voiced their opinions and concerns throughout the meeting.
One of the goals event attendees said they want to accomplish is to ask the the Office of Institutional Research to start collecting data on students’ sexual orientation and gender identity.
Omar Taweh, student activist and sixth-semester physiology and neurobiology and psychology double major, said this goal stems from a recurring problem of not having accurate data about the LGBTQ population on campus.
“UConn boasts their diversity when it comes to the LGBTQ community, but there are literally one or two statistics to back that up,” Taweh said.
Some event attendees said they feel the Rainbow Center shouldn’t be solely responsible for meeting the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community. Some suggested that an online course could be provided to teach students more about LGBTQ culture.
“Most of these (goals) won’t be done in a year,” Corolla said, “but it is important to leave a legacy.”
Matthew Mark Shirvel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can bre reached via email at email@example.com.