Photo courtesy of: UCMDr. Gigi Secuban
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Gigi Secuban provided this update about the relocation of the LGBT Center and the use of under-utilized space in the Multicultural Center on April 24, 2019.
As we move toward the conclusion of this school year, I would like to provide an update and detailed explanation related to the relocation of the LGBT Center and use of under-utilized space in the Multicultural Center.
For some time now, students and staff have been requesting that the LGBT Center be moved into a larger, more prominent location within Baker Center. This need became more pressing in the fall, when the university made an investment to increase staffing at the center. At only 800 square feet, the LGBT Center cannot continue to sustain operations and engage effectively with students in its current space. So, as consistent with University practice related to space needs, I engaged University Planning to develop an immediate, cost-effective measure to relocate the LGBT Center.
What I quickly learned is that available space in the Baker Center is extremely limited and reallocation causes displacement of other student focused groups. When University Planning identified the under-utilized gallery space within the Multicultural Center as a possibility, I was excited not only about providing an effective solution for the LGBT Center in a prominent location but also about exploring potential synergies between the activities of these two very important Centers on our campus. I spoke with the Director of the Multicultural Center, Dr. Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, and she was supportive of the potential move. She agreed to speak with students in the Multicultural Center about this opportunity to develop intersectionality between the student groups and their respective communities.
While I did bring students in to share the relocation plans, I now realize that our conversations about this important move should have engaged more students from both the Multicultural Center and the LGBT Center earlier in the process. In my haste to accommodate one community, I have unintentionally further marginalized another. That truly was not my intention, and I apologize. I plan to engage with both communities as we move forward.
Diversity and inclusion work is truly hard work, and it is work that I deeply enjoy doing in partnership with leaders across our campus and with our inspiring students. In the past year, my focus has been on positively impacting Ohio University’s culture so that we can strategically evolve into a national leader in diversity and inclusion.
The relocation of the LGBT Center will commence as planned over the summer, with active design programming engagement with students. Additionally, I have also made a commitment to engage in listening sessions and robust dialogue with students in the Multicultural Center to reprogram space designed over 15 years ago to meet the current needs for optimal utilization. I am strongly committed to working with all of our students in an inclusive process in the coming academic year to ensure we develop more robust programming and invest in meeting their needs.
I am optimistic about programming for the LGBT Center and the Multicultural Center next semester as we dedicate new resources to this effort. The University’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion is truly to be celebrated and embraced. I hope that any student who has ideas for improving diversity and inclusion efforts on our campus will reach out to me to share their thoughts and concerns.
In closing, I am eager to move forward together as I enter my second year as Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at OHIO. Good luck on your finals and have a great summer.