Resource Center History
In October, 2002, Dr. Bettina Shuford, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director, Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives (CMAI) convened a task force to investigate the campus climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) students at Bowling Green State University and make recommendations on how to improve the climate for these students. The Task Force’s charge was to identify program and service needs of students as they relate to LGBTQ+ issues.
The Task Force used a variety of approaches to assess and develop recommendations regarding the campus climate for LGBTQ+ student issue: Interviews with faculty, non-student affairs administrators, and Student Affairs unit heads; focus groups with students; an online survey of the BGSU student population; and a benchmarking study comparing BGSU’s LGBTQ+ programs and services to 12 other institutions.
LGBT students and non-LGBT students appeared to have very different perceptions of what the campus was like regarding LGBTQ+ issues. On portions of the survey that were answered by both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBT students, their answers were different on almost all non-demographic items, with LGBTQ+ students holding more negative views of, and experiences with, the general climate. In interviews and focus groups these differences were even more evident. Participants who identified themselves as LGBTQ+ had very harsh characterizations of the campus climate and administrative support, while participants who identified themselves as heterosexual generally characterized the environment as more mixed – reporting a climate that had both elements of support and elements of challenge. LGBTQ+ students indicated that, with few exceptions, they found the campus an unsafe place to be “out.” On average, they felt uncomfortable mentioning their sexual orientation in almost all settings on campus. LGBTQ+ students reported that they lack sufficient LGBTQ+ role models among faculty, administration, and graduate assistants, and they fear for their physical safety on campus.
Student Affairs directors felt their units were open to, and accepting of, students who were LGBTQ+. They often felt that they and their staffs did not know what the specific needs of LGBTQ+ students were, and that they might lack the knowledge to provide those services once they knew their needs.
In the benchmarking study, it was found that eight of the 12 institutions surveyed had an office that addresses LGBTQ+ issues. Of the institutions that had an LGBTQ+ office, four were staffed by full-time employees. All 12 of the institutions had a student organization for LGBTQ+ students. All 12 institutions sponsored the same sort of basic LGBTQ+ programming and funding for LGBTQ+ offices came from a variety of sources.
The Task Force generated 13 recommendations used to determine short-term and long-term goals for the Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives and the Division of Student Affairs in addressing LGBTQ+ student concerns.
From 2002 to 2004 CMAI hired their first graduate assistant for LGBTQ+ Programs and Services, Mr. Anthony Papini. Anthony was a master’s graduate student in College Student Personnel. Anthony started the first version of the Safe Space Workshop and various other programs and services for LGBTQ+ students at Bowling Green State University.
From 2004 to 2007 CMAI hired their second graduate assistant for LGBTQ+ Programs and Services, Mr. Nicky P. Damania. Nicky was a master’s graduate student in Career and Technology Education, Training and Developing. Nicky was given the task of caring out the 13 recommendations from the Task Force. He was also responsible for creating BGSU’s first LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, ally, queer/questioning) Resource Center and start many more programs and services for LGBTQ+ students at BGSU
In 2007, CMAI hired a new graduate assistant, Annie Russell, to coordinate the LGBTQ+ Resource Center. Throughout that year and the decade beyond, we have developed a variety of new programs and initiatives, including the Big Gay Picnic, Right to Marry Day, Coming Out Support Group, and many social events through the LGBTQ+ Resource Center. Over the years, many staff members and students have been involved to ensure a more welcoming and inclusive campus for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff.
In January of 2018, we were thrilled to open the new LGBTQ+ Resource Center in the Bowen Thompson Student Union, at the heart of our campus. This space has been used for a multitude of events and programs, including weekly Queer/Trans Student Union meetings, Safe Zone workshops, and numerous events. We are so grateful for the advocacy of so many students, faculty, staff, and community members through the years that made this beautiful new space a reality.
As we look forward, we aim to continuously improve historical programs and add many more new programs. If you have suggestions for programs or efforts that the LGBTQ+ Resource Center should consider, please contact us!