Office focuses on campus community
By Matthew Cover
The GLBTQ center at KU has expanded their outreach to spread their message to more students throughout the 2016-2017 academic year. In their attempts to do so, they have created new events and programs for the student body.
The new programs created and run by members of the center include an LGBTQ inclusive Bible study, and social gatherings for fellow GLGBT students to befriend potential roommates with KU’s gender neutral housing program.
“I think that since I came here and I’ve been involved, we have really gotten our name out there a lot more,” said Nykolai Blichar, a 21-year-old junior. He has worked as a desk assistant for the GLBTQ center since the spring of 2014, and served as the former president of Allies of KU from fall 2014-15. “Trying to do outreach is one of our favorite things,” said Blichar.
Blichar explained that the GLBTQ center has recently aimed to get the campus community – such as athletics, Greek life, and housing to become more involved with the center, and to find ways to encourage students of all kinds to participate with their programs.
One of the recent programs that the GLBTQ center has launched with this purpose is an all-inclusive, general neutral housing meet and greet. It serves as a way for students who are interested in gender neutral housing to find prospective roommates and connections through the university.
The center has partnered with Allies of KU and other student groups in order to create the most effective outreach. As a result of their partnership with other student organizations, they help host an annual Drag
Show on the campus that attracts a large number of interested students. Due to the impact of their outreach, the show attracts more and more students each year.
The center has also recently been able to help sponsor programs regarding political activism – in the semester of spring 2016, they helped bring Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter to speak on some important issues regarding race and equality.
Kalyn Burkman, a 21-year-old first semester freshman, is one of the students that has been positively impacted by the GLGBT’s center push for outreach. They describe the center as a place where they spend most of their free time because of the positive, communal environment it has.
“It’s someplace where we feel at home, where we can come and be ourselves,” Burkman said, emphasizing the important of the safe space that the center provides – especially with recent post-election fears.
Burkman also expressed their gratitude at being able to find like-minded people at the center. “I’ve never really had that – I’ve never had people that were like me – a place where I can meet other people like me,” they said.
Jose Valentin, a 21-year-old junior who recently started working as a student programmer at the center, has tried to expand the center’s outreach this semester by creating an all-inclusive Bible study connected through the Kutztown Christian Fellowship. “There’s no lecturing – it’s all comfortable,” he said. The study attracts at least seven or eight students, as well as new ones every time, for every session.
Valentin’ described the center as a place “to promote diversity and a place of information, comfort and friendship.”