Plans for LGBTQ center to be finished by Jan.

December 6, 2007

The working group charged with planning the new LGBTQ resource center expects to present completed recommendations to University President John DeGioia by mid-January, members of the group reported at an LGBTQ open forum on Wednesday evening. The two other working groups also announced their progress, including plans to educate incoming and prospective students through NSO and Blue and Gray tours and an updated bias-reporting website, to a crowd of roughly 60 people in the ICC auditorium.

The mid-January deadline announced by the Working Group on Resources puts the center on track to open by fall 2008, matching the target set by DeGioia in a speech at the beginning of November. The goal was set in response to student activism following two alleged hate crimes targeting members of the LGBTQ community at Georgetown.

“We definitely are ahead of our own timeline,” Shamisa Zvoma (MSB ‘08), a member of the Resource Center group said, citing consensus in the group. “I’ve been shocked at how everyone has been really on the same page.”

The Working Group on Resources has a completed draft of the center’s mission statement and is still determining the center’s governance, how it will fit into the University bureaucracy and where it will be located.

The group is weighing the need for a discreet location against the signal that would be sent by having a center located on the edge of campus or off-campus, Zvoma said.

“If there were any way to have a secret passageway, that’d be awesome,” Adam Briscoe (COL ‘09), a member of the Working Group on Education, said.

The Working Group on Education also plans to give its recommendations to DeGioia in mid-January, according to Associate Director of Student Programs and LGBTQ Community Resources Bill McCoy.

“I think that we would prefer to do a thorough job rather than a quick job,” McCoy said.

After researching the University’s current educational programs, the group has been exploring options like co-curricular programs, a first-year seminar, and programs through Residential Life and Campus Ministry.

Dennis Williams, Director of the Center for Multicultural Equity Access and co-chair of the Working Group on Reporting, said his group has been “creating [a] more comprehensive [bias reporting] site and then looking at a variety of ways to have this information publicized throughout the University.”

“Our task was primarily a technical one,” co-chair Professor Tommaso Astarita said.

Though some Christian groups consider offering resources to LGBTQ students to run counter to Georgetown’s Catholic identity, members of the working group said that Jesuit ideals have been an influence. Four Jesuits are members of the working groups.

“We’ve made it explicitly clear that [Georgetown’s Jesuit heritage] is one of the primary motivating factors for what we’re doing,” Scott Chessare (COL ‘10), GU Pride co-president and a member of the Working Group on Resources said.

Despite the immediate impact from initiatives like the resource center, McCoy pointed out that the full success of the Working Group on Resources won’t be immediately known.

“Some of this involves changing the student culture on campus,” he said. “That’s going to take a little longer.”

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