By Jessica Garrison
Two organizations that have continued to actively run on campus despite the pandemic are the Women’s Center and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, though both have had to make adjustments.
Christine Price, the director of both centers, and her staff have been working hard since the start of the pandemic to keep them up and running.
According to Price, there have been a few adjustments to keep both students and staff safe in the midst of COVID-19.
Of course, masks are required to enter the centers. All staff members are also masked.
Students are asked to check in at the front desk as a way to keep track of the number of people in the centers; the Women’s Center can hold five people at a time and the LGBTQ+ Center can hold eight people at a time. These numbers do not include staff members, and as long as each center is under capacity, walk-ins are welcome.
The furniture in the lounge areas are spread out to encourage social distancing, and sanitation stations are set up as well.
Visitors are asked to wipe their area down when they are finished, and although it was allowed in past years, the centers ask that no one eats in the lounge area so that everyone can stay properly masked.
There is a cleaning schedule that is followed closely at the times of 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and at closing time.
Books can still be checked out from both centers, and once they’re returned, they will go into their own quarantine until they are able to be checked out by someone new. They are following the same protocols as the Rohrbach Library is doing with their books, quarantining them for three days after their return.
Items that are typically offered in a basket outside are still available upon request at the desks to limit how many people are touching them: “We’ve been thinking of things differently in a way that is safe,” Price said.
There are still plenty of events being held by the centers, although most of them are done virtually. The Women’s Center is closely partnered with the FMLA Club, which stands for Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. This gives them direct contact with students.
FMLA meetings are held every Tuesday at 11 a.m. on Zoom. The club encourages students to participate in different topics that deal with feminist issues: “It’s a positive experience for all students,” Price added.
The Women’s Center also partners with the It’s On Us national campaign which fights to end sexual assault on college campuses. Though they can’t set up information tables around campus like they’ve done during previous semesters, they still have t-shirts available for students who come by to take the pledge. The shirts are bagged for sanitation and are touched by a limited number of people for students’ safety.
Through the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, there’s Allies, an active gay/straight alliance group that meets Thursdays at 11 a.m. over Zoom. The center also offers students virtual discussion groups to have conversations with other students to help them feel supported.
Some other events include Eqauli-Tea Talk, Coping with COVID support group, Lesbe-Honest Zoom discussion, Feminist Fridays, Gender Talk, a talk on voter’s rights and voter suppression and a trans and non-binary support group. Dates and times can be found on the social media pages of the two organizations, specifically on their Instagram pages.
There will also be an upcoming collaboration with the Multicultural Center that focuses on inclusivity.
“We’ve got some really great stuff coming up,” Price said. “There’s lots of opportunities for students to stay connected and engage with our mission.”
Price also added that the name of the LGBTQ+ Center was changed this semester from the GLBTQ Center.
“It was intended to be linked to the 15th anniversary of the center being open. At the time of its opening, gay men were more visible in the community, which is why the G went first, but LGBTQ+ is more commonly used and recognized now,” Price added.
Price said she and her staff are invested in making sure students know they’re not alone, especially in these difficult times. Even if someone is not comfortable meeting in person, they are more than welcome to speak to someone virtually. They can stay connected while also keeping a distance.
“We want students to know we’re here. Most importantly, we want everyone to stay safe,” Price added.
The LGBTQ+ center’s regular hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Women’s center’s hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday.