Last night, the NC State University Student Government held a town-hall style student forum to provide for question-answer discussion on the proposed LGBT student center on the campus (see all past posts, including the “NC State rears its ugly anti-gay face series” here).
I was able to drive down to Raleigh yesterday evening in order to hear the forum (and record it for those who couldn’t make it – scroll to the bottom of the post for the link), in part following up on the issue I’ve covered both here on the blog and through print in my column.
Over 100 students, faculty, staff and members of the larger community (as well as the news media) gathered in the NC State Student Senate Chambers – with standing-room only – in the Witherspoon Student Center at 7:00pm last night to hear a brief discussion of the proposed LGBT Center from a panel of faculty and staff including Director of Campus Activities Dr. Deb Luckadoo, primary author of the LGBT Center proposal Dr. Bill Swallow, Vice Provost of Diversity & African-American Affairs Dr. Jose Picart, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Dr. Tom Stafford and Counseling Center & LGBT Sub-Committee member Dr. Richard Tyler.
The forum was moderated by Stephanie James, Chair of the NC State Student Government’s Student Body President’s Diversity Commission. Other members of the Student Government present were Student Body President Will Quick, Executive Secretary to the President Robert “Bobby” Mills, Jr., Student Senate President Zach Adams and former Senate President Forrest Hinton, as well as other members of both the President’s staff and Student Senate.
The forum started out with both Dr. Luckadoo and Dr. Picart giving a brief overview of the LGBT Center proposal from the University Diversity Adisory Committee’s Sub-Committee on LGBT Affairs. All of the faculty on the panel were extremely supportive of the LGBT Center proposal and extremely supportive and understanding of the LGBT community and LGBT issues. (picture right: Attendees at the NCSU LGBT Center Student Forum applaud and get up to leave after the conclusion of the meeting in the Student Senate Chambers)
“All members of the community should feel welcome and respected,” stated Dr. Luckadoo.
Dr. Picart told that the crowd that he was “fully, wholly committed to the establishment of an LGBT Center on this campus” and that such a center “is way past due.”
“One of the most important values I’ve tried to articulate,” stated Dr. Stafford, “is that we should all workl to create a campus environment that welcomes and respects every student.”
“I am very proud to say that I am a long standing ally to our campus’ LGBT community,” he added.
The beginnign of the meeting, for at least the first 30 to 45 minutes or longer, dealt with the mechanics of the LGBT Center proposal and questions from students regarding the proposed Center’s mission and purpose.
One student asked how NC State would measure up to other UNC System schools. Dr. Luckadoo responded stating that if NC State created an LGBT student center it would be the second campus to do so, with UNC-Chapel Hill creating the first LGBT student center. Out of NC State’s 16 peer institutions, only three do not have an LGBT student center. Duke University, one of NC State’s peers located and located in nearby Durham, NC, has an LGBT student center.
Dr. Richard Tyler responded to a student who asked what programs would be offered by the proposed Center that aren’t already offered through the campus’ counseling center. The Center would not offer direct counseling or therapy, but would offere support programming for LGBT students, awareness & education programming for the campus as a whole, and outreach programs. NC State’s Project Safe and Everyone Welcome Here Week programs could also fall under the proposed Center’s responsibilities and programs.
One student asked about the suicide rates among LGBT students at NC State as compared with other institutions. Later in her question, the student claimed that rates of physical violence and harassment of LGBT students are far greater at institutions which do offer a campus center for LGBT students, a claim I know to be extremely false in the various work I’ve done surrounding LGBT issues. (picture right: Dr. Picart (standing left) shakes hands with Dr. Bill Swallow (standing right) after the conclusion of the meeting; Dr. Tom Stafford (left) & Dr. Deb Luckadoo (right) sitting)
Although it wasn’t quite addressed in the answer to the student – no bady knew of any direct data abotu suicide rates and sexual orientation on the NC State campus itself – the rates of physical violence more than likely seem higher at other institutions like UNC-Chapel Hill because students there feel more comfortable and safe in reporting such crimes to campus and police authorities.
The text of the full proposal for the LGBT Center can be found at www.ncsu.edu/lgbt/docs/lgbt_proposal.pdf.
I was very proud that I did not hear any of the extreme language I read in the “Students Against NCSU LGBT Center” Facebook group – language I documented and followed in the “NC State rears its ugly anti-gay face” series. Dr. Luckadoo, early in the meeting, did mention the online activities and stated she was very disturbed by the language and that it further proved the reasons why this Center was necessary.
There was a lot of discussion, however, of sin and God and religion and how students thought this was against their beliefs, therefore no Center should be made. One student got up to read from the book of Leviticus. Another said that since gay sex is illegal in North Carolina, the University shouldn’t be supporting illegal activity. Another student asked the faculty and staff panel if they were Christians and, if so, how they could support such an idea. Another insinuated that LGBT people can’t be Christian and that being gay is a choice.
After the meeting, when I was standing with a friend who is a UNCG alumnus and current NC State grad student, a group of three guys came up and starting preaching to us. But… at least no one threw out the extreme language that has been being thrown around so far.
You can also listen to the whole student forum here.
I was able to record the forum; the full audio file runs at about 1 hour, 25 minutes. You can either click the file to hear it as a streaming audio (it will play various ways depending on your computer and browser – through Quicktime or through Windows Media) or you can right click the link and “Save file as” or “Save target as” to download the complete file for your own keeping.
I wasn’t able to find out all of the news media companies which were present, but I do know for sure that WRAL was. WRAL has not, however, put a story on the forum on its website.
You can, however, check out a news article from NC State’s Technician, printed today.
The Technician also has a poll on the issue today: Should the University establish an LGBT Center? Here is a screen cap of the results as of approx. 12:20pm, December 7, 2006: