Networking Social Scheduled For SHSU's LGBTQI Community
Jan. 14, 2016
SHSU Media Contact: Chelsea Keller
Four Sam Houston State University faculty and staff members have come together to create a group that will offer a space for other SHSU employees who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning, Intersex and other alternative sexual and gender identities to connect socially and professionally.
Ching-In Chen, visiting professor of creative writing; Paul Eaton, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership; Ervin Malakaj, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages; and Drew Miller, assistant vice president of Student Services and executive director of Counseling and Health Services will host the first formal group meeting on Thursday (Jan. 21) from 5-7 p.m. at the Eclectic Café.
“This initial meeting is going to be for those who identify as LGBTQI* only,” Eaton said. “We are hoping to get a better understanding of what our community needs, first, and then expand into having larger events where allies can come out as well.”
The three professors met at new faculty orientation last fall after accepting positions at SHSU and had all previously looked for a LGBTQI* community on campus.
“Every university that I have worked at has had some sort of LBGTQI* center for either students or faculty and staff, and at first all I found on SHSU’s website was Haven, which is a solid resource network for the students to promote LBGTQI* student equity and involvement,” Chen said.
Without a staff and faculty resource, the three professors collaborated with Miller—one of the staff members who established Haven—to start a network to foster an LGBTQ* on campus.
“We thought that it would be very important to have a place where faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQI* can come together as a group not only socially but also professionally,” Malakaj said. “We also wanted to create a venue were LGBTQI* personal and professional issues can be hashed out and discussed.”
Last November, the president and provost held a roundtable discussion on “Diversity in Higher Education.” This is where the idea for the group fell into place.
“When we pitched the idea to the administration, they were immediately supportive of us. Not only the president and the provost but also the deans and our department heads have all been very supportive of us doing this, which is nice,” Eaton said.
After word of this new group on campus began to spread, support flooded in.
“I have personally been approached in person or by email from every imaginable administrator; everyone has been extraordinarily supportive,” Malakaj said. “There is a growing support on campus, and I think that is something that needs to be recognized.”
The network organizers hope with this new organization will create a supportive network for faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQI* and will help spread awareness and educational information.
“This organization will be a way for us to talk to each other and find a way to support one another on the things we encounter on a daily basis,” Chen said.
The Eclectic Café is located at 1211 19th St. in Huntsville, across from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum grounds.
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