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New school year, new outlook

This fall is not just the beginning of the academic year for the University of Utah’s LGBT Resource Center, it will also mark a new era in leadership and staff. Just a few short months ago in April, Harry Hawkins was hired as the center’s new director overseeing operations and developing programs to serve students, faculty and staff. At the time, he said the early goals for the center would be to enhance what is currently being done to provide support as well as identifying new community advocacy opportunities while collaborating with willing partners. 

He said the center would work to connect resources and create a streamlined experience for LGBTQIA+ students. Now that he has had some time to settle in on campus, he said plans for the coming year are beginning to take shape, which will include being fully staffed for the first time in some months and in a newly renovated office space.

“We’re going to be back at full speed and able to continue offering the great programs and resources that our center does,” Hawkins said. “For students, we’re back open, so come visit us, the space is great.” 

Along with Hawkins, LGBT Resource Center staff includes Associate Director LeiLoni McLaughlin and Coordinator for Community Engagement Tomoya Averrett.

Hawkins said this academic year, the center will be launching a pilot program focusing on educational leadership targeting queer, transgender and students of color populations (QTSOC), “because we really don’t see a lot of leadership programs focusing on this community.”

He said recruitment for the inaugural cohort will begin in late fall. Information will be available on the center’s website and social media. The actual program would begin next semester with approximately 8 to 10 people selected to participate. 

With this being his first semester in the position of director, Hawkins said he will take an observational approach as he continues to learn the lay of the land over the next year or so. He’ll also be searching for opportunities to build upon if they present themselves.

“We will be looking at programming expansion to what I call communities within the LGBTQ communities,” he said. “Specifically, we’re thinking of individuals who may identify as LGBTQ asexual or a-romantic populations or even LGBTQ folks with disabilities.”

“Those are different areas that we outline as needing to do a little bit more programmatic outreach,” he added. “We have to ask how we can serve those students through either programs or potentially services offered?”

The center will also spend time this year planning for their spring gala scheduled for March 30, 2023. As for the more immediate future, he said plans are underway to recognize LGBTQ History Month in October. 

“We’re working on some programs and. we’ve engaged some campus partners to see what others are working and look for opportunities to collaborate,” he said. “We have a panel discussion set for October 20th from 3-5 p.m. The title is ‘A blast from the Past and into the Future – LGBTQ History of Utah Past and Present.’”

Click here to find more information about the center or stop by their office located in Room 409 of the A. Ray Olpin Student Union Building on the main campus.