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May 6, 2019

LGBTQ+ GA discusses center's first two years

When the ROTC organization moved out of Main Classroom 211 in 2017, Emily Grady and Alex Goebel realized it was the perfect space for an LGBTQ+ Center.

Before Goebel started as the LGBTQ+ graduate assistant, the role was mainly to act as a liaison to the Queer Student Alliance. Without a program the center Cleveland State knows today did not exist.

Since then, LGBTQ+ Student Services has run large-scale events like Coming Out Day as well as weekly events like Dessert & Discuss. LGBTQ+ Student Services has also facilitated Safe Space Training for organizations, faculty, students and staff. A lot of these events were ideas that Goebel brought to the table when Goebel interviewed for the GA position.

“When I interviewed for the position, I shared a lot of grand ideas and plans, from opening a Center to centralizing a Safe Space Program,” Goebel said.

The center opened Oct. 12 2017. In its first semester, it was open 20 hours a week with no student workers to help run it.

After hate speech posters appeared on campus in 2017, Goebel and the LGBTQ+ Student Services advocated for more staff and more open hours with help from the Counseling, Administration, Supervision and Adult Learning Department. In Spring of 2018, another GA was hired as well as student workers.

“I ran the center, planned programming, facilitated Safe Training with Emily Grady and Lauren Baker, and served on the Student Affairs Diversity Council,” Goebel said in an email.

Now, the center is open 40 hours a week and has four office assistants.

As Goebel graduates, their main focus is on growth. While Main Classroom – now Berkman Hall – 211 was the perfect starting point, Goebel stresses the importance of getting a bigger space.

“We have a very small space that can’t be utilized for all the ways that students want to use it,” Goebel said. “If there’s more than eight people, it’s crowded and can feel overwhelming for students looking for a safe space to decompress or eat lunch. Some folks come for the community, some come to feel safe and welcome while they do work, and those two goals can’t coexist in a space so small.”

Goebel is also advocating for a full-time staff person to help run the center.

“This would put us on the same level as other similar universities who value and support LGBTQ+ students,” Goebel said. “A staff person would have more access and solve the issue of continuity, as the turnover with graduate students prevents longer-term initiatives.

“After the hateful posters were put up, students needed the decompression more than anything else,” Goebel explained. “Now, the next initiative is supporting their academic and professional development by creating norms and expectations for the space.”


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LGBTQ+ GA discusses center's first two years


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