LGBTQ members celebrate first center

Mariana Silva

Students, faculty and others joined in the grand opening of the first LGBT Student Center yesterday.

Kent students, faculty and staff, members and non-members of the LGBTQ community participated in the grand opening of the first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Student Center yesterday.

“This is such an exciting day for Kent State and LGBT studies,” Molly Merryman, co-coordinator of the LGBT studies, said at the opening in the Student Center. “Students you are brave and you are powerful.”

Merryman thanked all who participated in the creation of the center, an idea that started last fall. She said the center was created to be a meaningful and safe place and will continue the work done by student organizations such as PRIDE!Kent and Black United Students. All members of the LGBTQ community are welcome to visit the center at 226M in the Student Center.

“The support that we have behind this is just incredible. I’m very excited,” said Max Harrington, president of PRIDE!Kent.

Harrington said he was surprised with the amount of people who attended to the opening, which was announced only a couple of weeks ago.

Emeritus professor Dolores Noll was honored with the first Trailblazer Award yesterday at the opening for her impact on the LGBTQ community. She was the first professor at Kent to teach a gay and lesbian issues course in 1972 and was the first adviser to the Kent Gay Liberation, which is now PRIDE!Kent.

“I cannot tell how much it means to me,” said Noll offering her award to all who are part of the community and support it.

Noll said teaching at Kent State and being part of the Kent Gay Liberation was “a lot of fun” and that was where she spent the best years of her adult life. She said she is happy that what she started is going forward.

“It (the LGBTQ center) means another resource to students, it means a place for LGBTQ students to feel safe and accepted for who they are,” said Emily Vernon, an 18-year-old anthropology major. “I think it is really due. We really needed it.”

Timothy Moerland, dean of College of Arts and Sciences, said Kent and the College of Arts and Sciences are deeply committed to the premises of inclusion.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is proud to be a partner of the LGBTQ center,” he said.

Adam Griffiths, editor and art director of Fusion magazine said students are celebrating a new era at Kent State where diversity isn’t simply a buzz word, but a reality.

“We are on our way, and we must keep going forward,” Griffiths said.

Sue Doerfer, Equality Ohio Executive Director, said LGBTQ centers are important because they give members of the community the sense that there are others like them. She said Kent not only celebrates what is different but also makes the differences part of student education.

“Today is a day that marks a change in the way Kent State operates as a community,” said Kent State President Lester Lefton.

Lefton said the inauguration of the center is evidence of how things have changed at Kent. He said the university will continue to support organizations that seek to create a campus where all students can be themselves.

“This center is really about growth and development,” said Alfreda Brown, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Brown said now is the time for acting and ensuring challenges that affect members of the LGBTQ community are eliminated.

“This is a great step towards inclusive diversity,” Brown said. “It’s something that needed to happen a while back, but it happened today…and the excitement all around it, it tells me that we are going to go a long way. This is just the beginning of great things to come.”

Contact diversity reporter Mariana Silva at [email protected].