Centers team up to be more inclusive

By Keith Hernandez

The LGBT and Women’s Resource Centers officially united June 5 under a single name and mission in the final step of a merging process which began in September.

The centers will now be known as the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and will operate out of the Women’s Resource Center Building.

A big reason for the change is to become more inclusive, said Molly Holmes, director of the center.

“Under the name of Gender and Sexuality, we’re able to do a lot more,” Holmes said. “For example, we’re able to engage men and what it means to be a man at NIU, and I think under the two previous center names — just by looking at the name only — that might have been a barrier for men to join.”

Holmes said the mission states the center will work with students and other groups to “challenge societal constructs of gender and sexuality norms and promote social justice.”

In the past, the Women’s Center has hosted events such as Beyoncé’s “F” Word, which facilitated conversation about what it means to be a feminist.

“We have traditional events that we’ll do as a center, but it’s important to me as a director that we leave space and room for students to tell us what they want and then we give students the opportunity to lead their peers in those discussions,” Holmes said. “We need to stop and think about what messages we’re getting and challenge that a little bit because if we don’t, we might kind of get swept up in these ideas of how we’re supposed to be around our gender and sexuality that might not be central to who we want to be.”

The mission also states the center is a “home away from home for all persons, inclusive of sexual and gender identities, and all forms of masculinity and femininity.” Emily Tudor, junior health administration major and Transitions coordinator, said the center will establish an environment where students can talk with staff and each other and feel comfortable.

Transitions is a student social group for trans-identified and gender-nonconforming students.

“A lot of our students, and myself included, have a good sense of community here,” Tudor said. “You see the same people every week and you get to know them better and you get to know their lives and their stories, and they do become like a family at NIU. Having that closeness and that connection with other people is a really great service that we offer and … is really important for our students and is something that I really think … will be a strong point when we continue as a Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.”