Kent State should support all students

As the semester and year draw to an end, the opportunity presents itself to reflect on accomplishments achieved and on the challenges that are ahead. This past spring, Kent State opened an LGBTQ center on campus to support the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning student population.

Over the past few months, it has come to our attention, through meetings from multiple faculty sources, that the LGBTQ center on campus is in danger of failing to achieve its intended purpose. When the center opened its doors last year, the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was quoted as saying, “The new center will serve as a gathering place, offering a way for students to feel more connected at the university.”

The center’s opening, as well as the vice president’s words outlining the center’s mission, is in line with the strategic plan of the university that gives attention to serving the needs of the LGBTQ population. Since then, however, the center has not been given any budget and has gone without any funding to operate more efficiently. Additionally, the center is staffed only by a group of volunteers who did not receive training regarding how to adequately staff the center or field the concerns of LGBTQ students who may come for information or advice.

These volunteers are dedicated to the support of the LGBTQ community and work hard in their own right, but the center needs legitimate staffing and funding to be able to create the gathering place described in the center’s opening days.

As Leah Schueler et al. point out, in “Fostering Safe, Engaging Campuses for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Students,” students in the LGBTQ community are dealing with homophobia, invisibility, multiple social identities and a dominant, “heteronormative” culture. Students on campus are marginalized on a daily basis and must struggle to exist in this culture. Students need a space on campus where they can better engage socially. The groundwork for this has been laid out in the founding of the LGBTQ center, but the existence of this center alone is not enough.

What does the lack of funding the center receives say to our students who identify as LGBTQ? Do they not deserve any funding in their socially engaging pursuits? The lack of funding says to students that they are not as valued on campus as many of the other offices and centers that receive funding for their pursuits. The Women’s Center, the Student Multicultural Center and the Center for Adult and Veteran Services all serve underrepresented groups on campus and all receive funding, yet the LGBTQ center was not written into this year’s budget (Kent State University, 2010). This lack of funding also prohibits the center from fully reaching out to students through effective programming and advertisement.

Schueler points out that for an LGBTQ support and advocacy center to serve as an effective way to engage students, it should be staffed by a full time director or coordinator and not solely by volunteers. Additionally, the center should have means to partner with other areas of campus, such as residence life and other cultural centers. Lastly, Schueler points out that the center can offer web resources that provide, “anonymous and confidential access for students as well as enable faculty and staff to receive information that they may not be comfortable acquiring by visiting the center itself.”

In conclusion, we applaud the university’s efforts, as well Dr. Brown’s and those at the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, in their personal efforts to bring the LGBTQ center to campus; it was truly a large step in providing an engaging campus for underrepresented students. With that being said, we encourage administration to take this season’s gift of reflection and ponder whether the steps taken thus far to provide students who identify as LGBTQ actually best served those students. It is time to move forward in this great endeavor by providing the best possible environment Kent State is able to provide, through improving the services the LGBTQ center offers. We look forward to the future progress of the center in the coming years and its role in making Kent State University a model for inclusive excellence across the country.

Justin Khol and Caitlin Reed

Higher Education Administration and College Student Personnel Master’s of Education degree candidates


Scheuler, L. A., Hoffman, J.A., & Peterson, E. (2009)

Fostering safe, engaging campuses for

lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students. In S. Harper, & J. Quaye

(Eds.), Student engagement in higher education. (pp. 61-80). New York, NY: Rutledge.

Kent State to Open New LGBTQ Center March 11. (2010, March). Retrieved from