For the past several months, the LGBT Initiative has been trying to get a resource center for LGBT students at Weber State University. Harrison Spendlove, a diversity advocate for the LGBT Initiative, came into the student senate meeting on Monday to discuss this issue.
The LGBT Initiative is currently gathering more information for the resource center project by creating a survey that will examine what the needs are for LGBT students. After nineteen drafts, Spendlove hopes to have the final draft of the survey out to the students by the end of the week.
In addition to the survey, the LGBT Initiative is looking for letters by other LGBT students about their experiences.
“We wanted to get both aspects,” Spendlove said. “Hard data is what speaks to most people, but also personal perspective from those that are going to be utilizing the space.”
Spendlove will also be including his own story in the letters that will be given to the senate.
The initiative is now looking at spaces in which to house its resource center. They are planning on a small space, similar to the resource centers at schools such as the University of Utah or Utah State University.
“The support is out there. People just don’t know where to go,” Spendlove said. “That’s what I would be seeing with the center. It’s kind of that door in . . . if they need a counselor, go see a counselor. If they just need a friend, we can recommend them to GSA (Gay Straight Alliance). Just a place where they can feel safe.”
Spendlove said that this project is building upon another LGBT Initiative project called Safezone. Safezone is a program in which people wear a Safezone emblem to indicate understanding and support to LGBT individuals. People who participate in Safezone can attend a three-hour training course to help them support the LGBT community.
Spendlove mentioned that this center would not just be for student use, but also for the parents of students and the rest of the community. Originally, the LGBT Initiative was meant to be housed under the Center for Diversity and Unity. Even though those plans didn’t work out, the center is supportive of the idea.
“The LGBT programming in the Diversity and Unity Center is greater this year than it has ever been in prior years,” said Nancy Collinwood, director of Student Involvement and Leadership.
The funding for this project is currently coming from the dean’s office at the Davis Campus. The LGBT Initiative is planning on working closely with the AIDS Foundation as well as the OUTreach program.
“We know all of this stuff is accessible if you go search for it online, but a lot of people are scared too,” Spendlove said.
The resource center would provide a safe place for people to research LGBT topics.
“I would hope that LGBT students here at Weber State feel and know that the senate is a safe place to come and to talk,” said Brady Harris, the Davis Campus senator. “From what I’ve seen, there is no bias here . . . we are in total support here of doing something and helping (LGBT Initiative) as much as we can.”