GSC receives authentic letter from President Obama

By Kaylee Kean

“It’s pretty neat. It’s been a very surreal day.”

That’s what Grace Wojcik, coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) at Oakland University, said of opening her mail to find an authentic letter from President Barack Obama commending her organization.

It happened on Friday, Aug. 29, a day that started like any other. Wojcik was working in her office behind the GSC lounge and went up to the front searching for a random office supply. One of the student workers was going through the mail and said, “Oh, Grace, a package came for you.”

Wojcik took a look, noticed the White House listed as the return address, and thought, “Okay, that’s pretty weird.”

“I open it and it’s got this letter to explain the message,” Wojcik said. “And it’s got the actual message and then it has an eight-by-ten of the president … Jean Ann (Miller) and I were looking at it and it looks like he actually signed it — it bleeds through. So that’s pretty cool.”

This is her fourth school year working at the GSC, and Wojcik said this is the first time she thinks the organization has ever received anything like this in its nine years of existence.

The letter, dated Aug. 20, opens with a greeting to observers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center Awareness Day on Sept. 15.

“For decades, LGBT community centers have been at the forefront of expanding opportunity and increasing support for LGBT Americans,” the letter says. “By providing a broad range of important resources  from cultural and educational programs to social and health services  these centers improve lives and remind us of the ability we have to realize the future we seek. Centers like yours help us become not only more accepting, but more equal as well.”

Center Awareness Day, according to Wojcik, is hosted by CenterLink, a national organization that provides resources for LGBT community centers. The GSC will be participating by holding an open house all day with giveaways, tours and more. It’s the GSC’s first year taking part, “and that’s why we’re getting the letter, I believe,” she said.

The GSC will also be hosting a welcome reception with giveaways and free food on Sept. 18, which it is co-hosting with the Gay-Straight Alliance as well as the LGBT Employee Resource Group. That will be from noon to 2 p.m. on the north side of the Oakland Center lawn.

“I think that it’s an incredibly engaging organization. You meet a lot of very nice people here,” said Billy McLain, a sophomore who enjoys spending time in the GSC lounge. He said they will be showing The Birdcage in honor of Robin Williams, a major advocate for LGBT rights, on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in room Lake Superior A of the OC.

“Anybody’s welcome to join the center and just come and hang out,” Wojcik said. “We are the LGBT resource center as well as the women’s resource center … if you’re just wanting to learn or hang out and meet people, this is the place to do it.”

“I thank the staff and volunteers of our Nation’s LGBT community centers,” Obama’s letter ends. “I hope you take pride in the special place your center holds in the community, and I wish you all the best – Barack Obama.” 

To read the rest of the letter or learn more about the GSC and its upcoming events, visit it in the basement of the Oakland Center, go to oakland.edu/gsc or email [email protected]