Posted September 27, 2016 by Cooper Point Journal in News

Evergreen Queer and Trans Center Coming to Campus this Fall

The Center is Being Created After Student Pressure

By Sylvie Chace

The Queer and Trans Center (QTC) will open it doors week 3 of fall quarter on the second floor of the library building in room 2147. The center will occupy First People’s Multicultural Center’s old location, as First Peoples is relocating to library room 2151 on the same floor.

Jamie Cooper, Associate Vice President for Student Academic Support Services (SASS), stated, the creation of this center is “really overdue.” I sat with Cooper during a hectic orientation week to find out the details of what the center will offer and why it is being created now, when Evergreen has never had a center for queer students before.

It was only this past August that the details of when the center will open and where it will be located were finalized. Last spring, President George Bridges asked Vice President of Student Affairs, Wendy Endress to get a center up and running by fall 2016. A group of staff from Student Affairs considered options on a location in July and early this past August is when the proposal for George Bridges was made about the center being located in SASS.  Since then Evergreen staff at the SASS offices have been planning for its official opening.

An LGBTQ+ Student Support Work Group was enacted just last year to advocate for queer and trans students and educate the administrative staff on the specific issues the queer community at Evergreen faces.

“There’s been a lot of work on the administrative staff this year surrounding queer and trans students,” said Cooper.

Last school year brought about student activism regarding queer and trans rights at Evergreen with a Panel of transgender students and staff, held early last spring quarter. This panel brought to light the harsh realities trans students face at Evergreen and the shortcomings of the school’s administration when it comes to advocating for the rights of transgender students and staff alike.

Around the same time, a group of individual students chalked all of Evergreen’s upper campus with slogans opposed to Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs), such as “Fuck TERFs” and “Are you listening, George Bridges?” Many felt the backlash these students faced for the chalking displayed the inequality queer and trans students face, and it lead to discussions about homophobia and cissexism at Evergreen.

It is because of the efforts of student organizing and pressure, as well as the administrative work done as a result, with the LGBTQ+ Student Support Work Group, that this center is now being funded.

The Queer and Trans Center is funded by the Student Affairs budget. The money is going towards student work-study positions to work at the center. They will begin hiring soon as the center will be officially open week 3. To apply for a student position, go online to Evergreen’s Community Opportunities Database (CODA) where the job descriptions will be posted.

A full-time coordinator for the center has already been hired. Amira Caluya, formerly the program co-director  at Stonewall Youth, will oversee the center. Caluya will be in charge of getting the center up and running and finding resources that the Evergreen LGBTQ+ community may need from the center. Student positions will be modeled after First People’s and will work to create awareness and community as well as advocate for the rights of other queer and trans students.

Overall the QTC’s purpose will be to create a strong and visible Queer and Trans community at Evergreen. Since the center is being modeled after First People’s Multicultural Services, QTC will work closely beside them to host events for queer and trans people of color, as well as sponsor possible guest speakers or events for the queer and trans community at Evergreen.

Cooper expressed “This will be a center of education for the Evergreen community.”

Currently, student support is needed to help decorate the space The Queer and Trans Center will occupy. SASS is seeking student art to hang on the walls, as well as furniture or any other donations that students would like to see inside the space. The need to take up an accessible and visible space is also a reason why creating The Queer and Trans Center has taken so long.

Jamie Cooper also mentioned that this location is most likely temporary and there is a need for a larger queer center in the future. “This is just the start,” Cooper said with high hopes.