LGBTQ* Services has secured a multipurpose workspace on the second floor of West Side Dining to serve as a safe space for all students. Although it is not set to open until spring 2018, preparations for opening day are already underway.
“The center came from a student proposal a few years ago,” Chris Tanaka, coordinator of LGBTQ* Services, said. “I always say ‘shoot for the sky and see where you land’ and this is where it landed.”
Space has long been an issue for organizations on campus. It was a problem for the various LGBTQ* affinity groups, who meet once every few weeks to discuss issues pertaining to their unique gender identity or sexual orientation. With a new space, it will be possible for these groups to meet on a weekly basis.
“This new space opens the possibility of more programming,” Tanaka said. One of those programs is called “Let’s Talk,” which allows students to speak with counselors from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to learn about resources and obtain advice without the weight of filling out paperwork or making appointments.
“We would like to incorporate the “Let’s Talk” program with Counseling and Psychological Services, by having them in the new center for students to walk in and chat without having to fill out paperwork or make appointments.”
The new room will be a part of the “Safe Space Program,” which ensures a more inclusive place for LGBTQ* people by providing resources and support. The program also holds workshops to help build awareness about issues affecting the LGBTQ* community.
“The workspace will let people come together as a community of support and acceptance,” Alyssa Ortega, a freshman biology major, said. “Discovering that there will be a center for the LGBTQ* community, I would definitely go, because it’s a space where I can be accepted for who I am.”
Students say the new location at West Side will bring added privacy and comfort.
“With the current location being in the Dean of Students’ Office, it can be daunting for students to go there,” Claudia Zurek, a junior theater arts and history double major, said. “The center gives more of an opportunity for LGBTQ* students to hang out or come meet to people working for LGBTQ* Services. It gives an opportunity for students to be comfortable with faculty that are here to help them.”
The center will be located across the Faculty Student Association office and WUSB radio station. Its large space will feature collaborative rooms, a conference room and a lounge.
“The most exciting part is that students will have a place to meet and get resources on campus. It means that Stony Brook is moving forward into becoming a university that is welcoming to LGBTQ* students,” Zurek said. “This is the next step to ensuring the comfort of LGBTQ* students on campus, new and returning.”