NC State University gay student center proposal sparks campus controversy


NC State LGBT Center. The most up-to-date news right here.

Last Wednesday, the NC State University Student Senate voted in favor of a Senate proposal (R 37) supporting the creation and funding of a student LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) center on the campus.

NC State was recently listed as number 17 on the Princeton Review’s list of worst campuses for LGBT students. According to the Senate proposal, LGBT students have a suicide rate three times that of their straight peers. The Senate proposal also states that, “LGBT students consistently report far greater fear of physical violence than their peers and a greater level of in-class stereotyping or harassment.”

The next day, NC State’s daily student paper, The Technician, published a news story on the Senate’s actions. They also published a staff editorial in support of the LGBT student center. Needless to say, the response from students against the center’s creation was quick.

Students at NC State formed a Facebook group, “Students Against NCSU LGBT Center,” which currently has more than 800 members. Other students at NC State formed another Facebook group, “Students For NCSU LGBT Center,” which currently has close to 400 members (Note: Unless you have an account at Facebook.com, you may not be able to view the group pages or any other Facebook links in this post).

The debate on the “wall” of the Facebook group against the LGBT center has ranged from civil to just downright horrible.

A good portion of the debate includes students who say the are against the proposed LGBT center because of the cost of it. The new center will cost just under $200,000, with about half of that coming from student fees and the other half from previously set allocations from the University. I guess money is a good thing to hide behind when you don’t want to be called a bigot.

In one online forum for NC State students, a student stated, “how do you compare being a minority of any sort to being a faggot.”

The Technician‘s article from October 19th details the debate which took place when the Student Senate heard the proposal:

The source of funding and the effect of the LGBT center portion on other student activities was a major concern throughout the debate.

“Look at it as the community asking for support, not the community asking for funding,” Harrison Gilbert, senator for CHASS, said.

James Hankins, Senator for Lifelong education, referenced the 50th anniversary of African-American students graduating from the University the very same day of the meeting in similarity to the issues now facing another minority group.

“Now we are talking about denying a building to a group of students based on who they are. That’s kind of backwards,” Sen. Hankins said to an uproar of applause.

Not all senators were in support of the center. Scott Lassiter, senator for at-large first-year students, said he did not see the relationship between African-Americans and LGBT students in the same way Hankins expressed them.

“You don’t choose to be a minority — you are born a minority,” Lassiter said. “I personally believe you have some control over your sexuality.”

The Student Senate passed the proposal, with 29 Senators voting in favor of it, 14 against and with 11 Senators absent for the vote.

I have to say that The Technician‘s staff editorial on the issue was quite good:

Our Opinion: The University should provide the funding and support needed to create an LGBT center on campus.

The University, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary of integration, has done a lot of amazing things for racial diversity.

There are several resources for black students on campus, such as the African-American Cultural Center and a peer mentor program.

N.C. State has also helped in terms of gendered diversity.

The Women’s Center, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, provides several resources for women, such as a rape and sexual assault hotline and self-defense workshops.

We need to remember something very important about diversity.

It isn’t just black and white, male and female.

There’s an African-American Cultural Center. There’s a Women’s Center. Why not a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered center?

Our campus is one of the least accepting in terms of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered issues, according to The Princeton Review.

According to N.C. State’s 2004 Student Diversity Climate Survey, the suicide rate for LGBT students is three times higher than the rate of other students their age.

Fifty percent of LGBT students on campus say they think the climate at this University isn’t supportive of LGBT issues, according to the survey.

These numbers are unfavorable and reflect poorly on the University and its mission to be a diverse campus.

The proposal places a strong emphasis on campus climate, saying many LGBT students fear loss of friendships and lack of support from families.

An LGBT center could turn all of this around. These students need support from other students going through the same hardships, as well as trained professionals who can help them overcome the everyday obstacles they face because they are different.

Such a center benefitted our neighbors in blue down the road — no, not those neighbors. Duke.

Duke was once the second least-accepting campus to LGBT issues, according to The Princeton Review.

Three years ago, it built a center — which has its own building — and is now the third most accepting campus, according to The Princeton Review.

Our campus is huge. There is no excuse for limiting the options to various members of the N.C. State community.

NC State’s LGBT student organization, BGLA, has provided the text of the official University proposal (.PDF) for the LGBT center on its website. The proposal came from the GLBT Subcommittee of the University Diversity Advisory Council.

The official proposal includes a study on the necessity of the LGBT center, notes on the campus climate for LGBT students at NC State, the purpose and mission of the proposed center and a study of anticipated start-up and continuing costs for the proposed center.

According to the official proposal:

It is clear that NC State requires a GLBT center and that it should be a separate facility. The unique needs of the GLBT community cannot be well served by a broader “diversity umbrella” center. Too many of the functions of a GLBT center depend on staff having very specific training and sensitivities, and on the center being perceived as offering a truly “safe” space. In fact, physical separation from other centers may be essential to make the GLBT center a safe space. Some directors of GLBT centers have expressed the opinion that questioning (Q) students of color who visited their centers would not have done so if the GLBT center had not been separate and independent.

Many of the students against the “gay building,” as I have heard it called, are hiding behind money and the student fees issue in order to stand in opposition to the proposed LGBT center. Like it or not, the student fees issue isn’t a good one to stand behind. Student fees at a university fund various types of programs: everything from athletics, student activities, concerts and student organizations. Students who say they’d like to “keep their $2 or $3 rather than have it go to that center” need to rethink such thoughts. What if every student were to say something like that everytime student fees were used on something they didn’t necessarily agree with? What if Democratic students wanted to keep their money from funding Republican student activities, or vice-versa?

Student fees have to be used equally and they have to be used to benefit all students. In my opinion, if the University feels as though there is a possible benefit for students in the creation of this center, then student fees can rightfully be used. The used student fees will benefit the student body and campus in ways that many of these students probably wouldn’t want it to.

The truth is that NC State is one of the worst universities in our state for LGBT students. Almost every LGBT student I know from NC State tells me the same thing: the campus climate is horrible. I know many students who have had to transfer from NC State to other schools, like UNC-Chapel Hill or UNCG. These students couldn’t take the harassment and, sometimes, violence, they faced as LGBT students.

The proposed center is about safety and improving the campus climate. Those who are against the center are in reality standing in favor of the continued harassment, violence and abuse of LGBT students. I guess they feel as though that kind of thing is ok. Being gay is a “sin” after all. LGBT students deserve the abuse they get for being “sodomites,” right?

The official proposal from the University Diversity Advisory Council and the Student Senate proposal for the LGBT center are only the first few steps needed in a long, long process to get the LGBT center running. The proposal will have to go through many channels, so don’t expect that the LGBT center becomes a reality any time soon. I’d expect that it may not even open or be operable until the next academic year, or later.

Until then, I’m sure we’ll continue to hear student debate on the issue. One thing to remember: Right always wins out over wrong. LGBT students at NC State deserve to have a safe place to go to school and, right now, NC State is not safe for LGBT students.

You know, I wouldn’t mind having such a resource center for LGBT students at UNCG. Samantha Korb, a UNCG student and president of the UNCG LGBT student organization, PRIDE!, stated on Facebook:

I was reading some of the comments in the group for those who are Against the LGBT center and they are just insane. Make a straight center? WOW. I really hope that this happens for NCSU and that in the years to come the same will happen for other UNC public universities (including UNCG).

In response, Josh Wynne, a UNCG alum and NC State grad student, stated:

Yeah, now is definately (sic) the time to start building the groundwork for this at UNCG. I seriously doubt it would encounter as much opposition! I would have loved an LGBT center at UNCG when I was there, but I think everyone was just happy enough to have the second largest student group on campus lol.

I’ve talked with other students and even faculty members about having such a center at UNCG. An proposal, official or otherwise, has never come to the UNCG Administration or Office of Student Life. At least one faculty member told me that she’d be in favor of such a center if only some sort of proposal were made. That is, of course, not an easy task and it isn’t one that can be completed by just one or two or three people.

Of course, an LGBT resource center at UNCG would inevitably face opposition, even though UNCG tends to be more gay-friendly than other UNC System schools. Although we are more gay-friendly, problems still exist and many of those problems are ones which can’t be easily solved. Harassment in the residence halls is just one of those.

Despite how far today’s college students have gone in supporting LGBT people, problems such as those seen at NC State. Our North Carolina schools should take steps to help and protect LGBT students, especially those attending schools like NC State where their physical safety and educational future are affected by anti-gay bias and harassment.

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Comments
27 Responses to “NC State University gay student center proposal sparks campus controversy”
  1. Ryan says:

    I think the bisexual asian studies department at UNCG needs its own building… maybe evict Math to make room.

  2. Matt says:

    Now how did I know that you would comment with such a ridiculous thing as that? 🙂

    You have a weak argument, Ryan. Think of something more substantial.

  3. Ryan says:

    Well, apparentely fiscal conservatism is a weak argument as well… but that’s where we part ways. You’re a tax and spend liberal who is content snatching as much in mandatory student fees as possible, whereas I’d actually like students to be able to keep their money and put it only into causes they feel are worthwhile.

    More money in one’s pocket versus less… shall we continue talking about weak arguments?

  4. Matt says:

    No Ryan… I’m not a “tax and spend liberal.” I think an LGBT center is necessary, and therefore deserves funding. You don’t think an LGBT Center is necessary so you say they shouldn’t fund it.

    Our differences don’t start at whether we want to spend money or not. We part ways way before that… Our differences start in the belief of whether the LGBT Center is even needed in the first place.

    Stop hiding behind money, Ryan.

  5. Lee says:

    Matt,
    The other argument is the same that is used for reverse-racism. When you make a center for specific students, you are automatically creating diversion. I personally have no problem funding a “program” for diversity training or awareness, whereas we have been doing a “Everyone Welcome Here” week for 3 years now. That program has sparked plenty of healthy discussion on campus, and has made everyone much more aware of the GBLT population on campus. My personal issue with establishing a center is that a center will only attract the GBLT students, but not the rest of the campus. Therefore, it serves only for GBLT students. If a fee is collected from all students, then the function of that fee goes to something available to all students. The African-American Cultural Center on campus provides events that are not catered to African-Americans exclusively, and they solicit involvement from members outside of the African-American community.

    The GBLT Center proposal does not clearly define for how it will benefit the entire NCSU population. It simply doesn’t. The actual resolution in Student Senate only addresses the effects for the GBLT students, but does not mention how establishing the center will help all NCSU students. That is my main concern. I fully support awareness activities and programs, and have no problem giving money to such things. I do have a problem with throwing money at a center just to have a center. We already have a counseling center, with a gay counselor specifically for the purpose of counseling gay students. Our Center for Service, Leadership, Ethics and Public Service already spends a lot of money on GBLT awareness programs.

    So, my question is what will a center provide for the entire campus community that we do not already provide. I think the main problem here is that GBLT students on NCSU’s campus are unaware of the many programs already offered, and the most vocal students are those who feel most threatened. People seldom have the need to speak up when they are content with an issue, or a situation, and I think there are many more GBLT students here that feel comfortable who are not represented by this push for a center.

    That said, I will of course not stand in the way of the establishment of the center, but for me personally I do not agree that we absolutely need the center.

  6. Matt says:

    Lee… I suggest you go read the official proposal from the NC State GLBT Subcommittee of the University Diversity Advisory Council. I believe that would solve some of your concerns about the center not helping students who aren’t LGBT.

    And… I disagree with you. I think the LGBT center will be a place that will help all sorts of students gay and straight. Not only will straight allies become active with the programs there, I can foresee that the center will be able to help plenty of straight people at NC State: such as a straight person who just found out they are going to have a gay room mate, or a straight person whose younger sibling has just come out to them as gay and this straight person wants somewhere to go to understand or learn more.

    I think your perceptions of what the center might be, could be changed by looking at the situation a little more broadly… and by reading the official proposal.

    It was linked to in my post, but here, again, is the link:
    http://www.ncsu.edu/lgbt/docs/lgbt_proposal.pdf

  7. Ryan says:

    How am I “hiding behind money”? How is this not a justified response? What answer are you fishing for, that I hate queers and don’t want to even consider being exposed to them? Right.

    I agree with Lee here, there simply isn’t a need to waste money on a center that will only be used by a small segment of the student population. You don’t see me trying to get $200,000 for the UNCG Conservative Center, now do you? I feel equally, if not more threatened on this campus than you do, why don’t I deserve a place to go and hide with only people like me?

    Just out of curiousity… how much time do you spend in the NBS Legacy Room?

  8. Matt says:

    I don’t spend time in any EUC room, study room or lounge unless there is a meeting there. As far as I can remember I’ve never had a meeting in the NBS Legacy Room.

    Ryan… How much time do you spend in the Long Leaf Pine Room?

  9. Javier Mendez says:

    THis debate is doing nothing to eradicate the perception of NCSU as a backward hick school. I can’t imagine any of the top ranked or Ivy League Schools even debating this today, or even 10 years ago.

  10. Matt says:

    Thanks Javier… I wonder if you’ve seen some of the comments made by students at the Students Against NCSU LGBT Center facebook group?

    If not… here’s some snippets, doing nothing but further prove why such a Center is necessary at NC State:

    hey David Percival i totally agree with you. but i think the real purpose of this fag house is to pass out anal lube. Plus people that are gay chose that path and since when do chosen minorities get their own fuckin building. im mad that nc state was the 17th most unapplealing to homos, i believe we should strive to be first. Eric Dobbins

    I don’t give a fuck who funds the damn thing….i don’t think we should give fags a fucking building to themselves on campus. I don’t see why they need their own fucking building. What are they gonna do with it….have orgies? I mean it’s fucking pointless to give this to them. Why don’t we just give buildings to every organization on campus. David Percival

    I’am so digusted that this is even a situation in todays society there’s nothin cool or normal about wanting the same sex……..gay people are basically writing the pages in revelations as we speak ………..as christians if we let this center go up we will be contributing to the moral decay of society……lets stop this plz…….hit me up on facebook if anyone is interested in helping stop this Ishma Pinckney

    Building a gay center on cause campus will cause more image issues that not. People come to NCSU because it’s not UNC. If you want to attend a liberal university then go there. Don’t come to a conservative school and tell us what to believe, how our beliefs are wrong and where we should spend our money. Ben Fisher

  11. Matt says:

    Oh by the way… student fees do not fund the entirety of Student Affairs budgets so student fees aren’t covering the full cost of the Center. Also… no fee increase is expected to occur for the Center.

  12. Matt says:

    And an update…

    As of 12:00am Tuesday, 10/24, the pro-LGBT Center group had 451 members and the anti-LGBT Center group had 1,030 members.

  13. Jim says:

    What can one even say? It seems as though half of your student body strives to hold onto stereotypes–not only of the GLBT community, but of their own ignorance and biggotry. This would be a non-issue at my college. But then again; I am from the “left coast”.

  14. Alex says:

    I am not a student at NCSU, nor do I plan on being one. However, I do believe that although everyone has a right to be who they are (so it’s ok if you are gay or lesbian or w/e) but I do not think it is ok to force it on everyone else like this. The GBLA is already student funded, but like any other student organization, they have to fundraise for certain things. What if the Student Dems or Repubs demanded their own building? Would the university foot that bill too?

    If the organization wants this building so bad, then they should go out in the community and get the funding themselves. Do not force the university (or student body) to foot the bill if the whole of the University isn’t going to benefit from said project.

    But hey, what do I know? I’m a hateful, Republican-voting bigot because I don’t agree with the judgement that the Gay community is undergoing a similar amount of agony as did the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It really is not the same.

  15. Matt says:

    Alex, I’m sorry you are joining this conversation so late.

    The LGBT student organization did not request this center and the center is not solely for the student organization. The student organization and center are separate entities. The creation of the LGBT Center was proposed by Student Life and the Diversity Office.

    For the record, I am not a NCSU student either.

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  4. […] I know you all are upset about the NC State Senate decision to support the LGBT Center but that’s the way it goes. The majority may rule, but not at the expense of the minority and, in this case, it was proven the minority was in need of help and the Senate concurred. Welcome to America. […]

  5. […] In the online debate over the proposed NC State LGBT Center (see first post concerning Student Senate approval) it seems as though most of the horrible anti-gay hate and prejudice I’ve spotlighted in the last few days has died down. […]

  6. […] All of it started when the NC State Student Senate approved a proposal in support of an LGBT student center. Debate on campus and on a Facebook group entitled “Students Against NCSU LGBT Center,” soon followed. The issue even made an appearance in one of my Don’t Ask (I’m Telling) opinion columns in The Carolinian (UNCG). […]

  7. […] Benton is one of the 14 members of the NC State Student Senate who voted against the Senate measure supporting the creation of the Center. […]

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