Gender and Sexuality Center open during the summer

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Ayman Ishimwe

The entrance to the OU’s Gender and Sexuality Center, located downstairs in the Oakland Center.

Sarah Gudenau, Graphic Designer

The Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC), Oakland Univeristy’s LGBTQIA+ resource center, is dedicated to the retention and graduation of queer students — and that doesn’t stop during the summer.

The GSC offers many initiatives and services such as its Lending Library, the Out on Campus Initiative, Pride Month celebrations, Lavender Graduation and more.

Out on Campus is a campaign to make OU a safe, accepting and welcoming campus for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The initiative’s goals are to break down barriers, share knowledge and show support.

One effort to reach these goals is SAFE (Students, Administrators and Faculty for Equality) on Campus. SAFE is a training program that classes, student organizations or departments can request to learn more about LBGTQIA+ terminology and how to better support these identities within their own community.

Another initiative is the peer mentoring program, which pairs mentees with student mentors who provide academic and personal support. The mentee positions are usually meant for first year and new transfer students, the GSC is opening the program to second year students for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

“We know that, especially for first year students this year, their experience was not the norm for sure and so we want to provide an opportunity for them to adjust, especially once all of the social aspects come back,” GSC coordinator Grace Wojcik said.

The GSC is best known for its Pride Month celebrations which take place in March when, traditionally, more students are on campus. OU’s Pride Month 2021 mostly took place online, with events such as virtual panel and information sessions with subjects ranging from hot topics in LGBTQIA+ media to fostering inclusivity for transgender students at OU.

OU’s Pride Month also included the 37th Annual Women and Gender Studies Film Festival featuring “Kiki,” as well as drag queen bingo with Alyssa Edwards from “Rupaul’s Drag Race.”

“We saw a lot more people at Pride Month opening,” Wojcik said. “This was the largest Pride Month opening we’ve ever had. We had over 100 people.”

Each OU Pride Month concludes with Lavender Graduation in April, a special event to recognize and congratulate graduating LGBTQIA+ seniors. Students receive a rainbow tassel to be worn at their graduation commencement and they can invite friends and family to celebrate.

While Pride festivities already happened at OU, the GSC is still operating during world Pride Month and throughout the summer. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and hosts daily virtual office hours via Google Meet for anybody who has questions or just wants to stop by to chat.

“We are still able to serve students in that way, and if students have other needs that maybe they should speak to someone about a little bit more privately, that’s totally fine as well,” Wojcik said. “I’m always happy to set up one-on-one time with students. Even if we’re in the virtual space, that’s totally something we can do.”

The GSC also provides opportunities for student employment. Students interested in assisting in the office can apply on Handshake.

To stay updated on GSC events, check out the Google Calendar, email [email protected] or visit the https://oakland.edu/gsc/ for more information.