AMANDA TRAUTMANN, Staff Writer—This semester, although most students have returned to campus, many of them are feeling isolated and removed from Denison’s staple sense of community. For queer students who struggle to connect with other members of the LGBTQIA+ community on campus, it can be an especially isolating time.
The Office of Gender and Sexuality (OGS) aims to bring together LGBTQIA+ students on campus and help facilitate community building. During the pandemic, with restricted in-person gatherings, this has been a special challenge. The office has put out a new resource on their MyDenison page that aims to build the LGBTQIA+ community on campus by connecting queer faculty and staff with students, OUT @ Denison.
The OUT @ Denison page offers students a faculty directory of queer faculty who are out and open to engaging in dialogue with students as individuals or through a mentorship program. On this page students can apply to be paired with a queer faculty member mentor and queer faculty can fill out a form to join the directory.
Through myDenison, students have access to many different resources, although most of them use it for registration, financial aid, and other administrative tasks. There are a plethora of other resources for students available on myDenison. One of these sources is the Office of Gender and Sexuality’s page. On this page, students can access an all-gender restroom map, trans-spectrum resources at Denison, links to off-campus resources, and information about the Office of Gender and Sexuality’s other campus programming.
Dr. Heather Pool, Associate Professor and Director of the Philosophy, Politics, & Economics (PPE) program, is one of the faculty listed on the directory.
“When I was a student, queer faculty were not exactly hiding…” says Pool. “But they weren’t exactly open, either. One of the things I appreciate about this resource is that it’s filled with folks who are being openly out as queer; we are not underground, but visible and available to talk through some of the challenges of navigating life in a heteronormative world. This feels like a really important step forward, as I – and many like me – felt pretty isolated as a young/college age, baby butch.”
This new resource promotes visibility and awareness for our Denison LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff. OUT @ Denison helps create a sense of community, in addition to providing support and mentorship for those who want it. The directory includes not only Denison professors but other members of the faculty as well, including administrative employees, coaches, ITS staff, and Community Coordinators (CC).
Mia Bedford-Lazow, director of Outlook, a student-run LGBTQIA+ support group, said “I am so excited about Out @ Denison because it will make finding queer faculty and staff so much easier for students. From my own experience, as soon as I found queer staff, The Hill immediately felt like home.”
OUT @ Denison members are willing to serve as mentors and/or part of an informal network for the LGBTQIA+ community. It was created to celebrate, strengthen, and honor the experiences of the queer communities at Denison and foster stronger relationships among faculty, staff,and students.