Attending classes is an integral part of being a college student, but sometimes the most important lessons are learned outside of the classroom. The University of Connecticut Rainbow Center’s lecture series “Out to Lunch” gives students and community members a chance to learn about historical and contemporary issues of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The series takes place every Wednesday in the Rainbow Center from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for the remainder of the semester, but will take place on Thursdays at the same time for the 2018-2019 academic year.
“Out to Lunch” hosts a number of speakers every semester who address issues related to the LGBTQIA+ community. According to Timothy Bussey, the manager of “Out to Lunch,” speakers are carefully chosen after they assess which topics would be relevant and engaging to UConn’s broader LGBTQIA+ community.
“After considering topics of relevance to our community, we then identify speakers from other institutions and non-profit organizations, and we examine their ability to relay important and timely information about LGBTQIA+ topics to our students,” Bussey said. “The roster is consistently evolving to meet the needs of our diverse campus community.”
William Malave worked alongside Bussey in selecting the speakers for the lecture series. According to Malave, there was a great amount of care and consideration put into each selection. Bussey and Malave were tasked with finding 13 different speakers for the 13 dates of the lecture series. Malave and Bussey are constantly on the lookout for possible speakers, who they often procure from universities and colleges in the New York City metro area and southern New England.
“I typically opt for 13 differing topics from a long list of general themes, such as transgender, bisexuality, intersections of identity, economics, history, healthcare, etc,” Malave said. “There are also special dates or concepts that I like to plan for, such as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week in September and Native American Awareness month in November. This allows for a uniqueness to each semester.”
The “Out to Lunch” lecture series is open to everyone, so all who are interested in learning about LGBTQIA+ history and current events are encouraged to attend. There is even a 3-credit course—UNIV 2500: Gender, Sexuality and Community—that is associated with the “Out to Lunch” series for students who would like to get a deeper understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues.
Bussey believes that events like the “Out to Lunch” series are a great way for people to learn about LGBTQIA+ issues in a supportive and inclusive environment.
“The series offers a number of educational and enrichment opportunities, which I think are valuable for ensuring a diverse and inclusive campus community,” Bussey said. “Spaces and programs like the Rainbow Center’s OTL lecture series also create space for cross-cultural communication and community building to occur.”
Events like the Rainbow Center’s “Out to Lunch” aim to create a more accepting and inclusive campus environment. In an increasingly diverse campus community, it is important for people to be given the chance to discuss LGBTQIA+ issues in a supportive environment.
Whether someone decides to attend every lecture or just one, Malave and Bussey are confident that the “Out to Lunch” series will have a positive impact on the campus community.
“I hope that folks will gain a greater knowledge and appreciation of each unique person in our community, and ultimately a greater self-awareness,” Malave said.
Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.