By Nicholas Polinsky | Herald Contributor
The Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) at RWU is located through a door next to the Maple 9, 10, 11 Tower. It houses several groups dedicated to improving campus life for everyone, with a focus on gender equality and the LGBTQ community.
Although there is a sign and a path dedicated to this area, one might be under the impression that the Center is rather small. Perhaps that was once the case, but looks can be deceiving.
Renovations that began during the summer within the GSC were recently completed. As of Thursday, Sept. 28, the newly renovated GSC will be open to the public. An official opening ceremony is being held from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The renovated area now contains a full-sized refrigerator, a Keurig machine, a microwave, a smart TV, and new furniture. In addition to this common area, there is now both an office and a gender neutral bathroom in the building.
Coordinator of LGBTQ Programs Gabriella Porcaro weighed in on what she wishes the newly renovated GSC and all who use it can accomplish.
“My hope for the space is that we will continue to facilitate meaningful learning opportunities by means of faculty/staff trainings, student trainings, and student events,” Porcaro said. “I hope that this will be a space that continues to center [LGBTQ] lives and voices in all of its work.”
The renovations have had quite the positive impact on clubs and students alike.
RWU’s Sexual Advocacy for Everyone (SAFE) club said, “The space honors historic figures in the LGBTQ+ rights movement along with being furnished with comfortable furniture. We are able to claim a space on campus specifically for the needs of our club members.”
SAFE also hopes that the GSC will soon have additional staff members as well as work study students “to service any [LGBTQ] students who are seeking resources and support other than what SAFE can offer them.”
Senior Lily Schenk, the former president of SAFE, expressed great enthusiasm and high hopes regarding the renovations.
“We are excited to continue to work on this project and really show the presence of an active [LGBTQ] community on this campus,” Schenk said.
Juniors Phoebe Thaler and Danielle Small were the co-chairs of the Gender and Sexuality Student Proposal Committee and played important roles in the planning of the renovated center.
“I am happy that as [LGBTQ] students we have a space for us and our allies to feel safe, brave and comfortable,” Thaler said. “I am also eager for the opportunities it presents for enhanced programming. Writing up a proposal and presenting our case to the administration was hard, dedicated work, and although we still need to queer up the space and make it our own, I feel our efforts were well worth it.”
Small spoke of how the current political climate and the increased awareness of LGBTQ activism inspired the renovations. She went on to describe the original GSC space as “a dark, dingy corner” which was rather uninviting.
Aside from FEM Society and SAFE, the Women’s Collective for Equity and Empowerment is another student group that uses the space often.
Women’s Collective President Caitlin Agneta shared her thoughts on the space, stating “I think the new Center turned out even better than I hoped it would. I think this space will now allow for feelings of unity among the clubs that share the space, because individual club offices have been eliminated. It is also bigger now, making it easier and more comfortable to conduct club meetings.”
With 30 staff signatures and statements, along with 200 student signatures, the renovations were approved.
“Our work here is not done and we will continue to make this space flourish,” Small said.
Corrections: the positions of Lily Shenk, Phoebe Thaler, and Danielle Small were corrected above.