Harvard Students Rally for Larger LGBT Space

Hoping to house the Queer Resource Center in a more visible place than its Thayer basement location, LGBT students, allies, and other Harvard affiliates crammed into roughly 380 square foot area outlined on the Science Center lawn to demonstrate that the only LGBT-specific space on campus cannot contain the students it aims to serve.

“One-two-three-four the other colleges all have more! Five-six-seven-eight we’re standing here to change our fate”—cheered the crowd, who danced and sang along to blasting music, many of them skipping class to show their desire for University-sanctioned and -funded LGBT resources.

“There’s some sentiment that there’s already a center and the campus is LGBT-friendly, but we lag significantly behind our peer institutions,” said Harvard Queer Students and Allies Co-Chair Marco Chan ’11, who also sits on the BGLTQ Working Group convened by the College to assess LGBT resources and needs. He noted Harvard is the only Ivy League school that lacks a university-funded resource center or staff person. The guide to LGBT-friendly colleges by the Advocate—a prominent LGBT magazine—does not even include Harvard, he added.

Samuel J. Bakkila ’11-’12, who drew the eye of tourists and Science Center-goers with chants through a loudspeaker, said that he felt this lack acutely as a freshman.

“I know that more resources won’t solve everything, but I think it’s fair for us to expect our college to match the resources provided by its peer institutions,” he said. “I want future freshmen to have more resources accessible to them when they need that kind of support.”

Elizabeth C. Elrod ’11, co-chair of Girlspot—a campus group for queer and questioning women—wielding a sign emblazoned with the words “Down there it’s THIS big,” described Harvard’s lack of resources for its LGBT students as “embarrassing.”

“My common room is at least one and a half times bigger than the space,” said the Eliot resident. “Having meetings in the QRC is like going back into the closet.”

Yesterday’s demonstration, she said, served to unite LGBT students and allies through the attempt to raise visibility.

Bobbing to the music and waving to friends as they joined the crowd, QSA Co-Chair Emma Q. Wang ’12 agreed the demonstration helped bring Harvard’s LGBT and allied community together.

“For a lot of the students here it’s their first time standing together in a show of solidarity,” she said, explaining that many participate in a behind-the-scenes task force whose aim is to support the BGLTQ Working Group, but that this was their first time standing together publicly to demand support for the LGBT community.

“This highlights the importance of not only having resources, but how resources build strength and community,” said Wang, who is also a member of the BGLTQ Working Group.

She encouraged students to voice their own concerns and experiences at the open forums being held in each House over the next few weeks, or fill out the forthcoming survey on LGBT resources at Harvard.

James R. Sares ’12 bounced between clusters of students in the crowd, encouraging them to dance.

“We have no boundaries in our community except for the confinements of the QRC,” Sares said.

—Staff writer Alice E.M. Underwood can be reached at aeunderw@fas.harvard.edu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: December 6, 2010

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the Nov. 23 news article "Harvard Students Rally for Larger LGBT Space" incorrectly stated that Harvard is the only Ivy-league institution that lacks both a University-funded LGBT resource center and center coordinator, and attributed this information to Marco Chan '11. In fact, Chan had said that Harvard is the only Ivy-league institution lacking either a University-funded LGBT resource center or center coordinator.

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