In the past year, the University of Portland has had its ups and downs in creating a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ students on campus. I have had the privilege this year of serving on the President’s DEIJ working group along with administrators, students and staff to improve the queer experience on campus.
Student leaders have historically done a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to supporting LGBTQ+ students, and much credit is due to our GSP club on campus who has been at the forefront of change and advocacy at UP. Many of the changes and resources available are because of the work they have done.
In the past year I have been working closely with members of administration and others to gather student input and learn more about the queer experience at UP. Our goal is to make recommendations to the University to better support and care for the LGBTQ+ students we serve.
As I began talking with students, sharing in class and researching resources myself, I learned about many of the resources UP offers that students are unaware of. I want each student to know the resources and support available for them as well as know the channels for helping make change happen. With that I want to share some of the resources I found students were unaware of.
Queer Support Group hosted by Wei Motulsky (they/them) and Caroline Williams, MA (she/they)
This group meets every Tuesday from 4:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Student Health Center (Orrico Hall). This group is dedicated to creating a space for queer (LGBTQIA2S+) students to support one another. This is free to students!
Change your name at UP and add/change your pronouns
This link on the UP website shows you how to change your name and add personal pronouns. This change will be reflected in the following university-wide systems: Moodle, Office 365, UP Engage, UP Mobile, Self Service Banner.
This will not change legal documents such as student invoices and paychecks.
Students can make sure they have their chosen name on their diploma and read at graduation.
LGBTQ+ health resources
The UP Website and the Health and Counseling Center (HCC) have a list of resources for LGBTQ+ students.
The HCC offers PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), a daily HIV treatment medication to protect HIV-negative people from getting HIV.
These and so many more resources are available for LGBTQ+ identifying students. In addition to these, Associate Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students Tammy Herdener and Director of Student Activities Jeromy Koffler are currently spearheading an initiative to get LGBTQ+ student feedback on the queer experience and sense of belonging to report back to the University's Accreditation Program. The hope is that LGBTQ+ identifying students will take this survey in order to gather the most feedback to generate their report. This report will also be presented to the President’s Leadership Council in order to offer recommendations for improvement.
There is still much work to be done to create a better, more inclusive space for LGBTQ+ students on campus, but this work is helping to move the needle in the right direction. Without diverse student input we cannot make the best recommendations possible.
We hope students will take the time to take the survey and share what they see working well and where they would want more support as students.
I am proud of the work UP is doing to create a more welcoming home on the Bluff for our LGBTQ+ students and I am confident in the direction we are headed. Change takes time, patience, and love. There are so many people on this campus committed to making it the best it can be for each student, and I hope we can all commit to continuing this work together.
Megan Meckey is a senior marketing and political science major and the Vice President of ASUP. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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