Home Campus The Counter Opinion: Our take on the LGBTQ center controversy

The Counter Opinion: Our take on the LGBTQ center controversy

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Ohio University has announced its plans to move the LGBTQ Center to what the university says is ‘unused space’ at the Multicultural Center in Baker University Center. Advocates say the move makes efficient use of the limited space in Baker, while critics say the move is a transgression on space reserved for students of color.

We asked our writers: do you agree with the proposed move? Contributing today are freshman journalism major Charlotte Caldwell and sophomore political science major Maddie Kramer.

Editor’s Note: delfin bautista, the former director of the LGBTQ Center, prefers the lowercase spelling of their name and uses they/them pronouns. 
Do you agree with the proposed move?

CHARLOTTE: The LGBTQ center will benefit from this move because it will move from an 800 square foot space to a 1,200 square foot space. The two centers will also be easy to see and easily accessible, so they can both have an equal, active presence on campus. While the reasoning behind the plan sounds like it could provide a beneficial outcome for both groups, the administration should have notified bodies like Student Senate to hear how the students affected feel about it.

If there was more communication about the intent or necessity behind the move from the beginning, then students may not feel like their space is being violated. The move will get rid of the art gallery located in the Multicultural Center; while the university said it will provide more art galleries celebrating diversity on campus as a result, this does not account for the lack of communication to students about the positives and negatives for both centers.

If both centers could collaborate on the move like the director of the Multicultural Center hopes, then it could be a step in the right direction for diversity and inclusion on campus. Otherwise, the transition could spark further tensions between the groups and wouldn’t give students the welcoming atmosphere that they need.

 

MADDIE: Ohio University has been subject to a lot of backlash from students regarding diversity and inclusion this school year. This began with the firing of the former director of the LGBT Center, delfin bautista, in January. The removal of bautista without explanation at the time led to protests and general disappointment from students.

This move was also under the direction of Dr. Gigi Secuban, the first ever Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Ohio University, who was hired in May 2018. At the time, I was excited to have a woman in such an important role on campus. However, this move to combine the Multicultural Center (MCC) and the LGBT Center marks the second decision that students disapprove of in her short time in Athens.

Members of both groups came to the Student Senate meeting on April 10 to voice their opposition for the move. This was a powerful moment, as the two minority groups understood each other’s issues and concerns, and simply did not want to step on each other’s toes, preferring to each have their own space.

This is a reasonable request. The LGBT center is a mere 800 square feet, and feels like two small offices put together. It is hard to host programs and create a welcoming space in such a small area. This has been a concern that many in the LGBT community on campus have raised to Dr. Secuban during her short time at Ohio University. The space suggested in the MCC would be perfect, as the center would increase by 400 square feet and include an art room, a main meeting room, and a small kitchen. However, this comes at the expense of another minority group on campus.

It is important that both groups get spaces to call their own. A big concern students raised is that if a student is a part of both groups, but is still closeted, this may alienate them from using the MCC in addition to the LGBT center if they were combined. It is very probable that a situation could arise where a student would not participate in either group due to this.

There is room on campus for both the MCC and the LGBT Center to have separate spaces. For a school that advertises “Diversity and Inclusion,” Ohio U needs to stop making decisions for minorities on campus without their say.

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