A Q & A with QTRAC’s new Assistant Director of Queer and Trans Initiatives Jamie Wire


Headshot courtesy of Jamie Wire

Jamie Wire, the new Assistant Director of Queer and Trans Initiatives at Roger Williams University.

Q: What is your official title with the Queer and Trans Resource and Advocacy Center (QTRAC) and when did you start working for the university?

A: My official title is the Assistant Director of Queer and Trans Initiatives and my office is located in the QTRAC, physically, and I started June first.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

A: I am 29 years old, from North Carolina and I just graduated with my master’s degree in higher education, which I was seeking out a job at a university. I’m married, my wife’s name is Isabel, we have two cats Jupiter and Comet who keep our lives very interesting. I am new to the Northeast, I have never really been farther north than say Maryland so this has definitely been a new experience, but a fun one.

Q: What do you do in your role, what are some of your duties and what do you do on a daily basis?

A: All sorts of stuff, but I think it boils down to three main categories. First thing, it’s important to have student engagement. Getting connected with students, specifically students with LGBTQIA + plus identities and making sure they feel welcome on campus, that they have a resource and someone that they can talk to, that there’s people thinking about them in terms of events. What we can do for the rest of the semester has a lot to do with campus wide training. Our safe zone training program, one of my first projects when I started here, was revamping the training and updating the terminology and concepts. We’re already well underway in presenting it to students, staff and faculty. I’d say the last part of my responsibilities is working for institutional change. That includes working closely with the Intercultural Center, with Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Stephanie Akunvabey and with all sorts of different campus partners to see if there’s anything we can do at a university level to make things more welcoming for students. Thinking about the residence life experience for say, a non-binary student, or building more all gender restrooms, things like that.

Q: What are you looking to contribute from your role to the RWU community?

A: I definitely want to bring more visibility to QTRAC and not just show LGBTQIA + students that we’re here, but showing everyone that we are here and a resource. Unfortunately, because the position I’m now occupying was vacant for so long, I think there is a bit of a vacuum that is there and I don’t think a lot of folks know about the QTRAC and what it does. I definitely want to get the word out there more by putting on signature events, just taking up space on campus and showing people we are here to support you and, if you want, educate you.

Q: For those who do not know, what does QTRAC do?

A: A couple different things. The big thing would be our signature events. We’re looking to have a whole new set of programming working particularly close with (SAGA) on that on those big awareness and visibility days like Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 or Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, that sort of thing. We have a couple different programs like the Queer and Trans Living Learning Community, so I’m also the advisor for that. It can be really helpful for queer and trans folks to have that space, particularly a residence format because residence halls are usually segregated heavily by gender and it can be really awkward to navigate that. We also do different things with the safe zone training and for educating folks about gender identities, sexuality and how to be a good ally. There are things we do with policy including gender inclusive housing, all gender restrooms and updating the name change policy.

Q: Since you began at the start of June, what’s been going on at QTRAC?

A: It has definitely been quiet since students haven’t been on campus. We have been completely revamping the entire safe zone training so we’ve updated presentations to be more interactive and engaging. I have also been working on a campus pride index. That’s an individual third party assessment from an organization called Campus Pride. That’s an assessment institutions can take to help them guide on how inclusive their campus is and it does it based on different metrics like whether it is residence life policies or student conduct policies or even resources with faculty. This can help guide us moving forward.

Q: Are there any significant changes that have happened with QTRAC and are there any on the way?

A: I think the most significant is just the physical space. I did a bit of redecorating and I made an effort to put a lot of artwork on the walls that is from queer and trans artists to really bring a lot of different color and different perspectives to that space. I hope to implement is a type of queer prom or formal in the spring to have an event that centers around trans identities and getting to do something fun and interactive. We’re also working to develop a more cohesive relationship with the IC since we’re closely connected in the program and in our missions.

Q: What would you say are your goals this year in your role with QTRAC and what do you plan to accomplish?

A: My first and foremost goal is to make sure students feel welcome, safe and secure here. In order for that to happen there needs to be a lot of intentional work and teaching people about each other’s different identities, how to interact with people with differences and making sure people are seeing the programming and policies. There’s definitely a lot of work to get to that goal, but I think there’s a lot of potential here at Roger in terms of what’s already been laid from those who have come before me.

Q: What is something you would like to say to students going into the new school year?

A: Come say hi! My door is always open and I want to let students know I’m a resource and I’m here for them. I take the open door policy idea very seriously and pretty much never have it closed.