SGA senator pushes for LGBTQ center on campus


Abby Gross (pictured) is working toward an on-campus LGBTQ center. SGA recently passed a resolution asking the university to move forward with creating a center.

Abby Gross, SGA senator and Student Rights Committee Chair, is campaigning for the creation of an LGBTQ center at NKU. Her efforts were pushed forward when SGA passed the resolution asking for a center April 1.

Now this resolution will go to the Office of Student Affairs, work its way up to new Vice President for Student Affairs Peter Gitau, and ultimately be voted on by the NKU Board of Regents.

In the midst of last week’s Student Government elections and classes, Gross continued pushing for an LGBTQ Center specifically in her resolution instead of a multicultural diversity center, based on students’ needs.

A diversity center would be for African American, Latino and international students as well as the LGBTQ community. African American Affairs and Latino Student Affairs currently have offices. “But there’s nothing for the LGBTQ community,” Gross explained.

Gross said this is a great time to bring a LGBTQ center to NKU for several reasons, including student requests, faculty and staff recommendations that students would benefit from it,  a new university president and Gitau, who is coming from Southern Illinois University, where the university already has a LGBTQ Resource Center in place.

Other universities that have places similar to an LGBTQ center are Morehead State University, which Gross was encouraged to check out by someone in the LGBTQ community.

Ohio State University ranked as one of the top 19 universities in the nation for LGBTQ friendliness in the 2010-2011 academic year, as reported in The Lantern, a student-run independent paper for the university. Students can also search for universities and colleges nationwide that are LGBTQ friendly by going to the LGBT Friendly Campus  Climate Index, the National Listing of LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities at

Lisa Barresi, associate director of Counseling Services, told Gross that the need for a LGBTQ center increases every year. Jason Willis, Chief of University Police, told Gross that there have not been any hate crimes reported with LGBTQ students, “but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”

LGBTQ students were significantly more likely to experience harassment when compared to their hetorosexual conterparts and were seven times as likely to indicate the harassment was  based on their sexual identity, according to the e-book “State of Higher Education for LGBT People.”

Furthermore, LGBTQ students are twice as likely to be targets of derogatory remarks, stared at and singled out than heterosexuals. LGBTQ students are also significantly less likely to feel  comfortable in their campus, work or classroom than heterosexuals.

Additionally, LGBTQ students of color were significantly less likely than LGBTQ students that were Caucasian to feel comfortable in their classrooms, according to “State of Higher Education.”

Presently, Student Government Association members such as Gross have been told by the LGBTQ community that they tend to gather in Starbucks “because they don’t have a real location.”

Providing a center for the LGBTQ community would give them this location.

“Its main purpose is to provide support and be a resource for students, faculty and staff,” Gross said about the LGBTQ Center.

Currently the support programs offered consist of Allied Zone, counseling services or Common Ground.

“The Allied Zone campaign trains students, staff, administrators and faculty to be allies for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community on campus,” according to their website.

Brandelyn Tosolt, assistant professor, serves as the Allied Zone Trainer for NKU.

This means she helps anyone who wants to be trained as an Allied Zone member, Gross said. There are 192 supporting students, faculty and staff of Allied Zone that wish to see an LGBTQ center created.

“So people in the LGBTQ community can go to them, if they’re having struggles or they’re recently coming out,” Gross said about Allied Zone.

Gross believes that if this resolution passes, the LGBTQ center could be downstairs in the Student Success Center since “they’re still trying to figure out what to do with all those rooms.” If not, SU 324, which used to be the mailroom for Student Life, now only occupies a table where people have meetings. “But it’s for the administration to decide,” Gross added.

“We are asking for a center and for them to provide the personnel to staff it,” Gross said about the specificity of an LGBTQ  Center in her resolution.