The LGBTQA Student Center, which opened Tuesday, is located on the lower level of Creese Student Center in room 48-C, 3210 Chestnut St.
Drexel now joins a number of other universities in the region with designated LGBT centers, including the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Sate University’s main campus and Kutztown University.
According to Tatiana Diaz, the director of Drexel’s Student Center for Inclusion and Culture, the center will provide a wealth of information on campus and community events, as well as local and regional resources for LGBT students, including books and magazines.
Diaz and four part-time graduate-student advocates from the Couple and Family Therapy program in the College of Nursing and Health Professions will staff the center. Diaz said the student advocates will receive additional training from the Drexel Counseling Center.
The center is a one-room space with an additional storage area.
Limited Student Affairs funding has been used to get the center off the ground, but Diaz said staff will continue to search for new funding opportunities both internally and through support from alumni or outside funding.
Diaz said the concept of the center came from a group of students who saw a need for an LGBT-specific space.
“They presented that request to Dean of Students Dr. David Ruth in the winter 2012 term, and he was swift to begin identifying a space,” Diaz said. “Both he and Associate Dean of Students Dr. Rebecca Weidensaul enlisted the help of campus partners to design and sustain the center. The LGBTQA Student Center Leadership Team includes students, alumni, professional staff and faculty from across the university who have moved the concept to reality.”
Diaz said Drexel has a uniquely diverse campus and that the university makes all efforts to provide a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds.
The university launched an LGBT health program in 2009 and last year introduced an LGBT-health certificate program, believed to be the first of its kind throughout the globe. The university’s Steinbright Career Development Center offers career workshops specifically for LGBT students, and Diaz said the university has seen a growth of LGBT students in the past year.
“Across the university, resources and services specifically for LGBTQA students have been developed.” she said. “With that said, there is always more that can be done, and we hope to continue to work toward creating an even more inclusive and welcoming campus with the LGBTQA Student Center as a cornerstone of that work.”
Diaz said The LGBTQA Student Center, along with the Student Center for Inclusion and Culture, will continue to collaborate on LGBTQA History Month and Transgender Remembrance Week programs. The new center will host LGBTQA 101 and ally student training, and students will also be able to partake in résumé-writing sessions, mock interviews and alcohol and drug counseling with support from Drexel C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Center at the LGBT center.
Diaz said the center will provide a safe space for the growing LGBT student population on campus and will also put the university at a more competitive level to attract a diversified student body.
“These students experience challenges and difficulties that are unique to them. Therefore, creating a safe and welcoming place where students can actively receive resources and support through these challenges is integral to their success,” she said. “More college-bound students are identifying as LGBTQA in high school than ever before, and they are actively seeking out universities that provide these resources and support.”