LGBT town hall

Liam Pal, a junior theater and women's and gender studies major, makes a point as Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones looks on during Monday's town hall meeting

Photographer: George Mauzy


Judy Millesen, a faculty member in the Master's of Public Administration program, shared some of the things she is looking for in a new LGBT director as Mike Wickham, assistant registrar, pays close attention

Photographer: George Mauzy

LGBT group circle

The LGBT town hall attendees participating in a spirited discussion about the future of the LGBT Center

Photographer: George Mauzy

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Students and faculty discuss future of LGBT Center at town hall meeting

The Ohio University Office for Diversity and Inclusion hosted a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) town hall meeting on Monday in the Baker University Center to better understand the campus community's vision for the LGBT Center.
The meeting comes on the heels of the University's nationwide search for a new director of the LGBT Center, an inclusive and supportive environment located in Baker University Center. Former Director Mickey Hart left the position in August. The University's goal is to welcome the new director in January 2013.  

Susanne Dietzel, acting director of the LGBT Center and director of the Ohio University Women's Center, expressed the University's desire for external input, especially from students.

The more than 20 faculty, students and community members in attendance shared their optimism for the great LGBT potential at Ohio University. The group discussed the roles the new director should champion, methods for increasing the Center's visibility and steps to evolve its mission, such as adopting a larger meeting facility.

"The most important thing (for the director) is being a resource," said Charlie Smith, junior geography and history double major. "The director should go to one meeting of each student group to talk about the resource they have, the LGBT Center."

Attendees seemed to agree with Smith, carrying on his theme of a director who acts as a representative for the students, instilling in them an understanding for their personal abilities to be assets to the community.Megan Villegas, graduate assistant for the LGBT Center, suggested the next director moderates student leadership development within LGBT student organizations so that they know how to depend on each other rather than just the director.

Others voiced a need for broader change to make OHIO a better place altogether.

Liam Pal, Student Senate's LGBT affairs commissioner, said he would like to see LGBT representation at Bobcat Student Orientation, such as a video with LGBT students sharing resources, or an AlcoholEdu-type program about diversity.

"Anything – a person or a sentence – could change someone's mind," said Pal. "Ohio University needs to make a statement that it is supportive and inclusive."

Some participants wish to see further collaboration between students and faculty through interpersonal events that facilitate partnerships and presentations that expound on SafeZone, an Ally training program.

Jenny Hall-Jones, interim associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said she sees the new director as an opportunity to network communication and connections between students and faculty.

As the hiring process for the new director approaches, the University will continue to solicit feedback in hopes of rebuilding the LGBT Center based on comprehensive needs. Additionally, once candidates are brought to campus for interviews, students and faculty will be encouraged to attend and provide opinions of each contender.

"This is a moment where we as a community can dream big and fulfill our mission of educating our campus and empowering students," said Dietzel.