By: Sarah Kissel, Bicentennial Intern, Class of 2017, Political Science, Religious Studies, English Literature, Bloomington
One of the most valuable campus resources finds its roots in a conversation that occurred among Board members in the fall of 1987 and spring of 1988: the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Student Support Services Center.
The Board opened the year with its first meeting on September 14th 1987, at which it listed “rape awareness” as its number-one priority for the coming semesters. For the majority of the first semester, the subcommittee was titled “Rape and Assault Awareness;” however, in early November the subcommittee changes direction to focus on a “University-Supported Gay/Lesbian Student Group.”
Often, even in modern conversations, issues concerning gender and sexuality are combined into a single issue. Perhaps the change in committee purpose can be attributed to this attitude. It seems likely that, in the process of researching the demographics of assault victims, the subcommittee discovered a statistic that still holds regrettably true: that members of the GLBT community are at higher risk for assault than members of the heterosexual and cisgender communities.
On November 30th, Vice President Dr. Kenneth Gros Louis provides the new subcommittee with additional financial encouragement: the Board members are urged to obtain start-up funds from the Student Activities office, and additional funds from IUSA once the student group is created. Additionally, Dr. Gros Louis urged the Board to unearth the reasons previous campus groups with this mission did not remain organized and report them in detail.
Reports from the Gay/Lesbian University Sanctioned Group subcommittee remain on the Board’s agenda through April 18th 1988. Former Dean of Students Richard N. McKaig confirms that “… the Center was put in place through the efforts of many individuals. However, it is true that the catalyst for some of the discussions began with a proposal from the Board of Aeons. IUSA and other student groups endorsed the proposal.”
Dr. Gros Louis remembers being present at the proposal in 1990, at the East campus of Indiana University. The presentation was delivered to the Board of Trustees, “some of whom were strongly opposed.” Despite some initial resistance, the GLBT Student Support Services Center opened in 1994 and moved to its current location on campus in 2014.
Read more about the Board of Aeons decisions here: