Harvard, MIT, Tufts University, and Northeastern University all have GLBTQ resource centers, making Boston College one of few major universities in the Boston area that does not have a specific office for GLBTQ students and faculty.
This Tuesday, an event for students and administrators aims to change that. Abigail Francis and Alana Hamlett of MIT’s GLBTQ student life office will host a GLBTQ Ally Training from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. in Gasson 100.
The interactive workshop is meant to help the BC community learn base-level skills to help the GLBTQ community feel supported and to establish goals going forward, like the creation of an GLBTQ resource center.
At the training, participants are scheduled to learn how to be effective allies and to help identify support networks on campus.
The event will start with a knowledge-sharing session led by Abigail Francis, director of LGBT Services at MIT. She will be talking about how to create safer spaces on campus and how to address homophobia and be supportive of friends. This is a basic discussion that has not happened at BC yet, said Emilie Dubois, who is president of the Graduate Pride Alliance and GA&S ’17.
“There are lots of small projects at BC that point to evidence that our university is going in that direction, but there hasn’t been that coordinated and formal effort,” she said. “I’d love for this to be the time for that.”
After the initial talk, there will be a skills portion in which Francis will discuss, for example, how to support someone coming out. Finally, there will be a community discussion where the group will identify goals on campus and things that should change. In addition, the group will talk about resources available on campus.
Undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and administration members are all invited to attend the workshop. Dubois, a sociology Ph.D. student, designed the training. The Graduate Pride Alliance is leading the logistical side of the training and worked to get the participation of different student organizations, like UGBC and the Graduate Student Association.
“A lot of our work was coordinating those different groups just to be sure because there have been some different reactions to LGBT visibility and advocacy in the fact,” she said. “We wanted to have a really broad network of support before going forward with the training.”
Francis was brought in because she has a lot of experience doing this sort of training at MIT. Francis is the head of [email protected], a resource group that offers programming, education, and diversity training to students at MIT.
She offers one-on-one student support and advises eight GLBTQ student groups. She also oversees the Rainbow Lounge, a support network and meeting space at MIT that is home to MIT’s several GLBTQ student groups.
“We brought her in because she is a really great resource for students at MIT,” Dubois said. “I think our community would really benefit from a staff member like her.”
This is the first event of this kind on BC’s campus. There have been previous small efforts, but Dubois hopes this event will help to change the campus climate regarding GLBTQ students, she said.
“I think that this first campaign is a really good, proactive, positive first step for a different change in the administration’s response and their care for GLBTQ students,” she said. “The campus climate is changing-it’s ready for events like this, it’s ready for campaigns for visibility, for advocacy.”
Students, faculty, and administration can register for the event at lgbtatbc.squarespace.com/#/campaign.