Campus, News

Student Task Force’s report discusses campus culture for LGBTQIA+ Students

Boston University’s LGBTQIA+ Student Task force submitted its final report to BU administration on Oct. 26 which detailed recommendations the University could take to provide accessible services to students and create an inclusive environment on campus.

BU LGBTQIA+ Student Task Force
Members of the BU LGBTQIA+ Student Task Force. On Oct. 26, the BU Student Task Force presented its final report to BU staff in the hopes of recommending ways to improve campus environments for LGTQIA+ students. COURTESY OF LGBTQIABUST

Some recommendations from the report included creating a student-centered LGBTQIA+ resource center, staff training based on LGBTQIA+ students’ feedback and more accessible all-gender bathrooms on campus.

The BU Student Task Force began creating the report on LGBTQIA+ students in the Spring to “assess the climate for LGBTQIA+ students and identify systemic areas of concern” through using a climate survey.

Michael Arellano, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a senator with Student Government, wrote in an email the report was driven by the desire to create a visible reference point for progress in LGBTQ+ students’ rights.

“We made this report for our friends, for our past graduated friends and for our future incoming friends,” they wrote. “We hope our report will serve as a tangible benchmark that current and future students will always be able to use for generations to come.”

The 2022 report was based on a campus climate survey of self-identified LGBTQIA+ BU students. 156 students were surveyed on a range of topics from all-gender bathroom availability to the environment BU Administration provides for queer students. 

The report also compared BU’s LGBTQIA+ student resources to 46 other institutions, ranking BU last in providing LGBTQIA+ support for its student body. 

Christa Rose, a research fellow, 2022 graduate and former Queer Activist Collective president, said BU’s 2018 LGBTQIA+ taskforce report lacked focus on queer students in its research.

“One of my biggest motivators was this lack of institutional inquiry into the concerns and needs of LGBTQ students,” Rose said. “If we built upon the report of a task force that was officially charged by the Provost, we would be seen with more legitimacy from an administration’s perspective.”

The report said the University should prioritize hiring QTBIPOC professionals in administrative roles for the creation of a LGBTQIA+ student center. The report also said that identity-based Newbury and Hillel Centers could be used as a model for the new student center. 

JAKE Small, assistant director of Career Services at the College of Communication and a faculty advisor for the BUST, said the recommendation stretched beyond just hiring QTBIPOC staff for more representation.

“We need people who are diverse to be able to offer really compelling and creative solutions to some of our biggest problems like racism and homophobia, transphobia, ableism,” Small said. “We need people who know things that’s informed from their lived experiences at the table making decisions.”

Another recommendation from the BUST report is for BU to create additional all-gender bathrooms across campus with clear signage. 

Renee Walden, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, agreed with BUST’s all-gender bathroom recommendation.

“The lack of attention paid to (all-gender bathrooms) really frightens me,” they said. “In CAS, there is one all-gender bathroom for the whole building, and it’s on the first floor and there’s not very many people that have classes there, so, taking time to go there, it’s out of your way.”

Sawyer Yoh, a freshman in the College of Fine Arts, found access to gender-neutral bathrooms to be helpful. 

“I personally use (all-gender bathrooms) all the time, because it’s gender reaffirming (and) a lot more private,” they said. “Specifically for dorms it would be nice to have a gender neutral bathroom.” 

The BU Student Task Force held a “productive” meeting with senior administration about their findings.

Arellano wrote that the Administration was receptive to BUST’s recommendations.

“We hope this is only the beginning of creating and strengthening the crucial bond between student activism and Administrative power,” Arellano wrote.

Rose said the taskforce will hold a Q and A session open to all BU faculty and staff on Zoom Nov. 21.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated JAKE as Jake. The article has been updated to reflect this change.

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