In 1997, Jordan Potash, an undergraduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences, submitted a proposal to Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Barry Wells, to create a Rainbow Task Force to meet the needs of LGBT students. In the fall of 1998, the University Senate Ad Hoc Committee on LGBT Issues was formed. They were charged with assessing campus climate, reviewing national studies on LGBT issues, and collecting information about how other campuses were responding to the needs of LGBT students, faculty, and staff. Over the next couple years, the committee conducted surveys, hosted focus groups, facilitated discussions, and met with relevant departments and student organizations. In the spring of 2001, the committee issued the following recommendations:
- Establish an LGBT Resource Center to serve students, staff, and faculty
- Hire staff for the Center
- Grant permanent status to the ad hoc committee
The University Senate unanimously approved these recommendations and charged the Division of Student Affairs to carry them out.
Adrea Jaehnig, a former Associate Director of Residence Life, was hired as the founding director of the LGBT Resource Center. She began her work in an office in the R.A.P.E. Center, located in the basement of Health Services. Her first order of business was to establish a permanent location for the Center. After careful consideration, she selected 750 Ostrom Avenue. Previously known as “the Pride House,” 750 Ostrom had long served as a meeting spot for student organizations like Pride Union and Open Doors.
Over the years, as the LGBT Resource Center has undertaken more and more work on campus, its staff has grown. The Center now employs three full-time staff members (director, associate director, and admin specialist), a part-time graduate assistant, and a number of part-time undergraduate staff members.
Since its inception, the LGBT Resource Center has endeavored to build community within and beyond campus, raise awareness of LGBTQA+ identities and experiences, offer support to LGBTQA+ campus community members, and build a safer campus for all. The staff pursues these goals by planning and executing a number of annual events, including the Welcome Social, Coming Out Month, the HoliGay, Trans Day of Liberation, and the Rainbow Banquet. Additionally, the staff develops and implements trainings, supports additional programming, and engages in advocacy for LGBTQA+ people within and beyond campus.