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UPDATED: January 12, 2017 at 12:37 a.m.
Sheehan D. Scarborough ’07 will serve as the College’s next BGLTQ Student Life director, Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair announced in an email Tuesday.
Scarborough, currently the assistant director of student services at Harvard Summer School, has acted as interim director of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life since August, following the departure of previous director Van Bailey for the University of Miami in July. Bailey was the first director of the the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, which the College opened in 2012.
“I think that it was a real affirmation to receive the position, an affirmation that I have what the College wants and needs right now,” Scarborough said. “I think that [the BGLTQ Office has] so much potential. There’s so much that we can do over the next few years and I’m so glad to be able to continue that work.”
Scarborough, who holds degrees from both the College and the Divinity School, said he thinks his time as interim director prepared him well for the new position, adding he is “ready to hit the ground running.”
Looking ahead, Scarborough said his top two priorities are ensuring BGLTQ students who have yet to come out feel welcome at the BGLTQ Office and creating a “more visible presence” for the Office in students’ residential lives.
He said he sees both issues as “big needs,” and areas where the College must do better.
Scarborough said his own experience coming out as a senior at the College will inform his work as the BGLTQ office’s director.
He said he wants to work with “students who aren’t out and who may not feel like the BGLTQ Office or BGLTQ student life may be for them—students who maybe are going through the same things that I went through as an undergrad.”
Scarborough said he aims to welcome these students by offering “expertise” and “compassion,” and by helping connect them with peers “feeling the same thing.” He also intends to improve relations between the Office and BGLTQ tutors and proctors stationed in the undergraduate Houses; he said the current relationship is “disconnected.”
“We want to see how we can be a part of that in supporting students where they live, not just where we exist as an office,” he said.
Scarborough said he has yet to make any definite plans for his office and wants to move forward “carefully and thoughtfully.” He has, however, proposed to recreate “Faith and Sexuality Initiative,” a group he co-founded at the Divinity School that gathered students together to discuss religion and sexuality.
Scarborough hopes the club, which he plans to form in the next two years, will help members explore their religious and BGLTQ identities. He said he will invite campus religious groups to participate in these conversations.
Patric C. W. Verrone ’18, who interns in the BGLTQ Office, said he was “very glad” that Scarborough will be the next permanent director. He said he was pleased with Scarborough’s work as interim director, and that Scarborough’s decision-making capabilities fit him well for the new role.
“From the perspective of an intern, he’s just been very mindful and respectful and just a great person to work with,” Verrone said. “Among the staff, we all love him.”
Though excited to start work, Scarborough said the United States’s current political landscape poses challenges he “might not have anticipated” prior to November’s presidential election. As an example, he referenced the recent wave of proposed “bathroom bills,” legislation decreeing that transgender people must use bathrooms corresponding to their sex assigned at birth.
“We have to be ‘anxious and jealous guardians’ of… the rights and privileges that we have been able to accomplish and gain over the past few years with BGLTQ rights,” he said, alluding to remarks President Obama made in his farewell address Tuesday.
Scarborough will officially assume his new position on Feb. 6.
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