Recently vacated space at Columbia University will now be available exclusively to students of color and those who identify as LGBT.
The Columbia College Student Council and Engineering Student Council unanimously passed a proposal in January to designate what was the undergraduate package center, where students went to accept incoming packages inside the Lerner Hall Student Center, as a space where minority students can go, according to the Columbia Spectator.
The proposal called for “more institutional support, staff, resources, funding, and space for LGBTQ+ students, students of color, and those who hold combinations of these identities,” according to Campus Reform. Specifically, the proposal called for the school to hire a staffer whose sole duty was to cater to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
The Columbia University Senate Student Affairs Committee officially unveiled the rooms Friday.
“In this particular case, initiative really took advantage of a really fantastic opportunity to meet the needs of a community that is at a higher risk for mental health and wellness issues than their peers,” the committee’s co-chair, Sean Ryan, said.
One unidentified freshman said, “There are many spaces on campus, especially those that are dominated by straight males, that leave me tense. An LGBTQ+ Center would offer me yet another space where I could feel like I am safe to simply exist and be me.”
Another unidentified student claimed that while Columbia “boasts” about having a diverse student body, those students who actually make the school diverse “are not properly cared for,” Campus Reform reported. Although the university does not have a staff member whose sole job is to work with LGBT students, the Spectator reported that associate director of multicultural affairs Chris Woods, who was also tasked with serving Latino and Muslim students, catered to LGBT students.
Columbia was the only Ivy League college to not have a space dedicated to LGBT students, which, according to Brennan Mendez, class of 2017 vice president, put Columbia University “behind the times.”
“Even Dartmouth has a full-time LGBTQ person, so we’re behind the times on this,” Mendez, who wrote the original proposal, said when it was introduced in January, the Columbia Spectator reported.
“This system accounts for the specificity of particular spaces to meet the needs of particular student groups, allows to be utilized to its maximum potential, and recognizes the invaluable role that identity-based student groups play in supporting marginalized segments of the student body,” Mendez added about the newly opened spaces.