Our team recently had the opportunity to present our latest project for Stony Brook University at the annual ACPA conference held in Houston March 11-14. Not only did we showcase the story of the new LGBTQ* Center on the SBU campus, we were joined by Dr. Robert Schoenberg, the recently retired director of the Penn LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the very first centers like this in the nation.
The presentation also covered the history of LGBTQ Centers on university campuses. An interesting fact is that only six percent of colleges and universities currently have an LGBTQ center on their campus, adding up to approximately 246 such centers in all. We gave attendees some critical factors to consider if they are planning one for their campus:
Keys to Creating an LGBTQ Center on Your Campus:
- Consider your campus context: is it more liberal or conservative? Limited or accessible funding?
- Can you identify a campus champion? Finding and empowering the right person is key to gaining momentum.
- Do you understand the planning process? Talking with architects or other institutions who have launched successful centers will give your team an idea of what to expect.
- What are your cultural goals? What culture do you want to create? Stating your mission, vision and values is key to helping guide the process.
- What are your programmatic goals? What types of activity do you envision for the space?
- Can you enlist outside experts? Hiring a planner and/or architect is often needed to bring your vision to reality.
KSQ’s design team created a concept called “the nest” to guide decisions for the Stony Brook space. A feeling of warmth, acceptance, safety and home were some of the guiding principles.
At Stony Brook, a former 2,400 square-foot dining space provides a visible presence and a central location for LGBTQ and other groups to connect with peers, mentors and the services and resources available at SBU. A student lounge, individual and group study, social, lecture and meeting spaces as well as offices and gender-neutral restroom facilities are included in the new space that opened in early March 2018.
Our team was honored to be part of the process of creating a new home for the vibrant LGBTQ community at Stony Brook University. We know how much impact a space can have on creating and fostering community–it’s why we do what we do!