LGBT Campus Center celebrates 25 years

August 9, 2017 By Petar Djordjevic

The UW–Madison LGBT Campus Center, established in 1992, continues to evolve as it listens to the needs of the student community, says Katherine Charek Briggs, interim associate director of the center.

From creating programming to help in the aftermath of the Pulse Club shooting last summer, to providing resources and assistance during the past presidential election, the center is constantly adapting to stay in tune with what students and staff want.

“The LGBT CC has been an amazing space for me on campus — it’s one of the only places at UW–Madison that I feel comfortable being myself, and cared for by a community,” says Meara Sweetnam. “As a trans student I am grateful to have a place on campus in which I feel safe and understood.”

Even in the summer, the center holds plenty of activities for students. Examples include “Task You Hate Tuesdays” (a chance to cross off tasks on a to-do list), “Thankful Thursdays” (opportunity to reflect and appreciate positive happenings in life) and “Film Fridays” with a new movie each week.

For the Campus Center’s 25th anniversary, it will host celebratory events in October as part of National LGBTQ History Month, including an open house, speakers, panels, and an event with the LGBTQ Archives.

The center has made its mark on many aspects of campus:

  • The center worked with University Housing to establish the Open House Gender Learning Community, a student residence dedicated to examining gender and sexuality.
  • The center piloted and is continuing to roll out the preferred name policy, which started with the Office of the Registrar and is branching out to other campus departments. This policy allows students, staff, and faculty to designate a name in use to be displayed in campus systems.
  • Working with University Health Services, the center helps advocate for trans health care and provides training for staff in health services, including counselors, nurses, and front desk staff.

The center recently welcomed program director Tiffany Lee, who’s in charge of planning events. Since 2012, the center has partnered with the Multicultural Student Center on the Crossroads program, which focuses on queer and trans students of color.

That focus has been a key to helping many students on campus.

“The LGBT Campus Center has helped impact my college experience by helping me access a community of queer and trans folk, especially other fellow queer and trans people of color,” Quasia Heru says. “It has provided a safe space for me where I know I am always welcome and would be protected.”

In addition to this, a retreat is held each year called SQUAD, where students practice resilience training and gain knowledge on how to create healthier communities. The retreat is meant to create a strong community not only on campus but across the state as well, with staff and students from UW-Oshkosh and UW-Milwaukee joining them also.

“The resilience work we did at SQUAD was centered on helping participants build relationships, develop tools for caring for themselves and their communities, and get important space to relax, rejuvenate, and bring their full authentic selves,” says Charek Briggs. Some of the building tools included identifying one’s own needs in relationships and regarding self-care, how to have difficult conversations, and centering this growth around art and creative expression.

Located in Red Gym 123 at 716 Langdon Street, the center is a unit of the Division of Student Life that provides advocacy, education, outreach, and more for UW–Madison students and their allies. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment.

Its weekly activities can be found on its Facebook page.