Community Support for the Center

Statements of Support from Pace and Community Advocates

The LGBTQA & Social Justice Center was made possible through the involvement of Pace students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members.  The following are Statements of Support that were used in the formal proposal to the university for an LGBTQA & Social Justice Center at Pace University!

 

In the last decade, in my advisor’s role in the Honors College, I have seen many sides in the lives of my LGBTQ students.  I have seen students whose lives blossomed and flourished as they found themselves; I have also had to counsel students who have suffered discrimination, insults, and even violence due to their sexual orientation.   The Center described in this document is not only needed, it is vital to provide the support services and the programming this vital part of the Pace community needs.

I sign this as a proud father, who has watched his high school age daughter take up the cause of equality and civil rights for her LGBTQ friends, as she campaigned (ultimately unsuccessfully) for marriage rights in NJ.  This Center will aid the cause of human rights, at Pace and beyond.

-Bill Offutt

Pace University

Professor & Honor’s College Advisor

 

As a career counselor, I believe that deciding on ones path is an existential decision - one that Pace students should make in a fully supportive environment. In such, students have the chance to openly explore, define, build, and believe in their identities. Each staff member is viewed as an extension of the university. If the university is not visible in supporting its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning population, then it appears that our staff is not either, and our work – to help develop self aware, intelligent, confident students - becomes less impactful. Creating a LGBTQ Center is Pace’s chance to create an environment where students can decide who they are, be who they are, and create direction for themselves after graduation. I am in full support of this center, and believe our University will be a better one because of it.

Rebecca Schnall
Counselor, Career Services

Pace University – NYC Campus

 

A straight-ally is there to support, hope, and accomplish. As a straight ally on the Pleasantville Campus, I am President of the Gay-Straight Alliance. I have seen LGBTQ students struggle to express themselves, defend themselves, and truly explore who they are. There are always incidents of discrimination that arise on our campus because not everyone understands or takes the time to learn more about the gay community. If a LGBTQ student could switch shoes with a straight student, life as we know it would become completely morphed into a new world. Having these LGBTQ centers on both campuses is a profound proposal and exciting opportunity. I know that the students in my organization find this to be an imperative step towards accomplishment and hope. We do not realize how colossal the LGBTQ community at Pace really is; that is because there is nowhere for them to go and no one for them to speak to. Students at the Pleasantville Campus who are LGBTQ may feel uncomfortable coming to my organization’s meetings and expressing their sexual orientation in front of strangers. Therefore, these LGBTQ centers would be a necessary step towards accepting the diversity that both campuses have and establishing a “safe-zone” where counselors, students, and staff can aid in the betterment of our Pace family. Our motto, “opportunitas”, is the foundation of why these centers should be advocated at Pace University. After all, everyone has an opportunity; what you do with that opportunity is what makes the difference.

-Alyssa Lago

President, Gay Straight Alliance

Sophomore, Pleasantville Campus

 

I am so excited that Pace University is taking steps towards creating an office dedicated to the well-being of our LGBTQ and allied students. This is a much-needed initiative that will help our students to feel more valued as members of the Pace community.

There is no doubt that the LGBTQA population is facing a significant number of stressors right now. Both personally and politically, individually and systemically, our LGBTQA students are navigating a challenging and sometimes hostile environment in the greater world. It is my hope that Pace will aspire to provide these students with sanctuary, with an environment in which they can learn and grow and advocate for themselves. These students are worth our best efforts.

-Molly Grimes

Pace University

Counseling Center

Assistant Director, Training Director

 

To be honest, it’s really unfortunate this proposal even has to be written. I don’t mean to be glib, but all colleges and universities should have LGBTQA centers. The college years are one of the most critical periods of growth in the life of a student, and institutions must take initiative to foster a safe, inclusive, and free environment in which that growth can most successfully occur. I have a deep, pressing hope that this letter and proposal be heard and adequately acted upon. Nothing is more important in education than example. Pace must lead by being a model of the values it wishes to cultivate in its community. The creation of an LGBTQA center is an urgent initiative that will demonstrate Pace’s commitment to inclusion and free expression. Bayard Rustin, the often-overlooked, openly-gay, mentor and advisor to Martin Luther King, once wrote, “Every indifference to prejudice is suicide because, if I don’t fight all bigotry, bigotry itself will be strengthened and, sooner or later, it will return on me.” After his role as lead organizer for the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin was forcibly ostracized from King’s core group because his homosexuality damaged the public image of the movement.  He continued his activism and, in 1977, wrote a statement that is still true today, “There are very few liberal Christians today who would dare say anything other than blacks are our brothers [and sisters] and they should be treated so, but they will make all kinds of hideous distinctions when it comes to our gay brothers [and sisters]. ... That is what makes the homosexual central to the whole political apparatus as to how far we can go in human rights.”

-Matthew Ashby

Advocate for Social Justice

 

When I was employed at Pace University two years ago, I was always saddened to know that there was not a center, office, or coordinator dedicated to LGBTQ issues. When the university does not provide such an entity on campus, the entire campus community is affected. First, LGBTQ-identified students, staff, and faculty are sent the subtle message that the university does not value or celebrate LGBTQ diversity. Thus, such individuals may feel unable to express themselves freely on campus, may feel compelled to hide their sexualities, and/or may feel a lack of safety on campus. A lack of university-supported LGBTQ programming also has an impact on non-LGBTQ individuals, as it they may learn that the university of tolerant of hate, prejudice, or ignorance toward the LGBTQ community. Thus, they may continue to participate in all forms of discrimination-subtle, blatant, conscious, and unconscious. When LGBTQ individuals are victims of discrimination in any form, they are more likely to suffer from mental health problems- ranging from depression, stress, trauma, and low self-esteem.

I strongly encourage Pace University's support of LGBTQ programming, particularly in the form of an LGBTQ center. It would be the university's way of promoting true diversity, allowing for a more inclusive, safe, and celebratory environment for all students, staff, and faculty members. If the university truly cared about the well being of all of all of their community, they will see the benefit of providing a safe space for LGBTQ individuals and their allies.
-Kevin L. Nadal, Ph.D.,

Assistant Professor of Psychology, John Jay
College of Criminal Justice- City University of New York

Over the past 14 years that I have worked at Pace University as an educator, clinician, and administrator. I have been proud of the manner with which the University has cared for their students-academically, professionally, and personally. In recent years, as enrollment of GLBT students has increased, there has been a need building for the University to address the needs of these students, that is a GLBT affirming  environment, one that addresses policies and the physical and social environment. I believe there has never been a better time to start a task force and develop a permanent office for GLBTQ concerns. I strongly believe this initiative is not just good for our students but for the University as a whole.
Richard Shadick, Ph.D.

Director, Counseling Center

Adjunct Associate Professor, Psychology Department

Pace University

 

The LGBTQ Center Initiative is in keeping with the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) mission statement—and reflects the programming our office has sponsored in recent years.  Upon reflection, although having a yearly workshop or day-long symposium on LGBTQ issues and concerns is a good first step—it is time we move beyond those repetitive first steps.

Achieving social justice and diversity in its most holistic sense, means that we extend our discourses beyond the paradigms of race and culture—to include the provision of an open and affirming space with resources for LGBTQ students, staff, faculty and their allies.

-Denise Belén Santiago

Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs

 

The formation of an LGBTQ Center is an important and timely service for Pace to implement. Our students need a place where their voices can be heard and properly represented within the community and in the world. The Counseling Center was long a safe-haven for our LGBTQ students - and the movement towards creating the Stonewall Coalition had its roots there. That was at a time when many students felt they had to hide their differences for fear of bias. The times have changed - the struggle for rights and recognition is now in the open - fear of bias has been replaced by highly visible and vocal advocacy for full rights for all that is now pitted against an equally loud voice that opposes the granting of these same basic rights and privileges. The university needs to provide services and support to our LGBTQ students. Creating a center is an important step in that direction.

-Richard H. Raskin, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Former Director of the Counseling Center (1978-2002)

 

A community is defined by the extent to which each member feels cared for and respected.  Without such respect, a community fractures and fails. –Dr. Petersen

A community is defined by the extent to which each member feels cared for and respected.  Without such respect, a community fractures and fails.  I fully support this initiative as a key component of the creation of a new way forward for Pace as an institution and as a community.

-Brian Petersen

Pace University

Counseling Center

Staff Psychologist

 

I enthusiastically support this initiative.  As an openly lesbian faculty member I realize that my position and age afford me a level of freedom not available to many college students.  I feel a responsibility to work to make all students comfortable here, but especially members of the LGBTQ community who need to be supported and validated.

-Constance A. Knapp

Interim Dean and Professor, Seidenberg

Certainly there is a void at Pace—LGBTQA students and staff need and deserve a place to access resources, support, and community on campus.  In previous work on campuses with LGBTQA centers, I have witnessed the tremendous support, acceptance, and feeling of community that it can bring to a university.  Creating such a center at Pace University invites the entire community to a new level of diversity, acceptance, and access.  I am in full support of the LGBT center task force and its mission.

-Jenna Cler

Coordinator of Disability Services

Pace Counseling Center

 

As members of a learning community, we need to celebrate, cherish and protect all our constituents.  The formation of an LGBTQ Center at Pace will demonstrate further that the university values inclusiveness and encourages the contributions of all our students. It will provide a major step in establishing a safe and affirming space for our LGBTQ students and allies.  In so doing, we help our entire community to flourish and transcend the boundaries imposed by oppression and neglect.

-Heather Dawson

Pace University

Counseling Center

Staff Psychologist

 

I am in full support of the creation of an LGBTQQA Center at Pace.  Providing resources, programming and community for this growing population of students would be a great benefit to support retention and success. A safe environment where students could gain a voice and presence on campus would bring us into the 21st century and in line with peer institutions. Please let the committee know that I am committed to providing this important community resource and would look forward to working with the center on programs and more.

-Jody Queen-Hubert

Executive Director, Career Services

 

As a mental health professional who works with college students and former staff member of Pace University Counseling Center, I throw my fullest support behind the initiative to establish an LGBTQ and Ally Center at Pace University.  Given my experience working with Pace students, I feel strongly that the establishment of such a center will send a powerful and much-needed message to students: that they care about their students, they honor the diversity they bring, and they are willing and eager to publicly and formally honor this diversity.  Students of all sexual orientations and all levels of identity development, in order to truly succeed during their time at Pace, need to know that the university they call home is a place where they can feel safe, welcomed, and honored, and that the university proudly makes it it's mission to ensure all students have such an experience.

-Eugenio A. Duarte, Ph.D.
Psychology Fellow
New York University
Counseling & Wellness Services

 

I have been working in the Office of Multicultural Affairs for the past 5 years, and in the time that I have been here I have had an opportunity to engage with Pace’s diverse student population. Within that diversity of students there is a substantial amount of faces who are members of the LGBTQA community. The community continues to thrive on campus with the support of peers, faculty and staff, and, though at OMA we have done programming on LGBTQA issues, have sponsored Safe Zone Training, and have material/ resources inclusive of LGBTQA identities, I truly believe that more support is required. I support the proposal for a centralized center specifically designed to meet the needs of our LGBTQA community.  I sincerely feel that students, as well as faculty and staff, need a place that can sincerely understand their experiences. Part of our mission at OMA is to increase the level of support for marginalized groups both on campus and in the greater community, but also to create a more accepting and inclusive campus climate where students can flourish with confidence in the multiple identities that they represent.  This mission can be taxing and the recruitment of advocates and supporters is crucial to its success. That being said, an LGBTQA Center would only assist to strengthen our ability to enhance the experience of all our students attending Pace University.

-Melanie Robles

Assistant Director

Office of Multicultural Affairs

Pace University

 

I am writing in support of creating an LGBTQQA Center at Pace University.  I strongly believe that it is important for this population of students, faculty and staff to have a place for guidance, support, visibility and validation on campus.  As a university, we are a community of people from all different backgrounds and experiences.  The role of those who work here, inherently, is to educate in some way, shape or form those who are students of the institution.  Having a LGBTQQA Center would deepen the resources we already have at Pace to teach, to learn, to respect and to grow from the interactions we have collectively as a community.

Rachel Josephson, Assistant Director

Pace University Career Services

 

I would like to express my full support for an LGBTQ resource center on Pace University’s campus. This center would serve as a much needed resource for LGBTQ students, their allies and the entire Pace community. While Pace University may seem to have a tolerant campus climate; I believe LGBTQ and non LGBTQ students, staff and faculty members have different perceptions of how accommodating the university truly is. Faculty and staff may be unsure of the specific needs of their LGBTQ students and lack the resources to provide support to these students. With a staffed resource center, Pace University could provide Safe Space training and workshops, support groups, and other LGBTQ programs and initiatives. These are a few of the reasons why I fully support an LGBTQ resource center at Pace University.

 Lisa J. Scott

Career Counselor, Career Services

Pace University

 

As a gay person, I am honored to work in a field that furthers the reach and empowers the voice of the LGBTQ community in an effort to encourage personal growth and understanding. I feel that, no matter what your beliefs are, as the faculty of a University which strives to create an environment of personal development and learning, it is your DUTY to ensure that the LGBTQ community has a place to feel free to be themselves without threats to their emotional state or physical security.

The beautiful thing about youth in a democratic and diverse nation is our exposure to people of all different races, socio-economic classes, genders and sexualities. You are doing yourselves and your student body a disservice by ignoring a large minority group on your campus. It limits not only the feeling of acceptance of your LGBTQ students, but the opportunity for your straight identified students to be exposed to this group. Your students deserve the best when it comes to their education, be it academic, cultural, or the philosophy of tolerance and acceptance. I sincerely hope you re-evaluate your current lack of an organization to support your LGBTQ student body and instead make a move to demonstrate your commitment to excellence.

-Sarah Bidnick

OURscene TV

 

I think it’s very important for the LGBQT community to feel safe and welcomed, especially in a university setting.  Actually, it’s extremely important.  Every human being deserves to feel safe, secure, and welcomed.  It’s very upsetting and alarming that my own school does not provide a safe place for the gay and lesbian population.  I feel as if schools, including my own, just ignore these types of prejudices, which is unacceptable, especially for a school that emphasizes diversity.  Students, professors, and faculty members should never feel discouraged to go anywhere because of their sexual orientation.  We need to all support each other, we can see better changes in the community and ourselves if we just set aside our differences and be who we really are openly.  Something as simple as support can change people’s lives for the better.  It can eliminate discrimination and strengthen a university.  Support can influence self and social acceptance, which will make everyone feel safe, and even more importantly, happy. 

-Julie Ahn

Junior at Pace University

 

Seeing as there is a rather large population of LGBTQ students at Pace University, I think it is about time that there was a support system in place for this community. LGBTQ students and staff have many unique challenges, and concerns regarding the college experience and currently have nowhere specific on campus to go to find answers to their LGBTQ specific questions. Knowledge is power, and it is the responsibility of a University to provide that power. Creating a LGBTQ center on both campuses will serve the whole campus community in its quest to educate students to become fair and just human beings, to overcome adversity, and sweep aside bias in order to create a better world community.

- Lexi Gruttadauria

Pace University Junior 

 

Creating a safe place that welcomes the LGBTQ community and their straight allies is an important step towards the movement against negative attitudes and discrimination within the Pace community. This will not only be a place for LGBT people, but for individuals who are questioning and wish to learn more about their sexual identity.  I think that a LGBTQ center on campus will serve as a place for open discussion where we can increase awareness and support. No one should feel alone or unaccepted. We should take action in making Pace University a place of peace, love and harmony among all people.

-Susana Lucero

Junior at Pace University

 

When moving from Vermont to Pace University in the fall, I felt no doubt in my mind that I would move into an atmosphere of peace and acceptance, an atmosphere that I had been accustomed to living in for most of my childhood life. New York City, proclaimed to be the Mecca of personal self expression in all aspects of life, including sexual orientation, proved to have some boundaries, mainly in Pace University itself. To not have a group of individuals with the purpose of solely providing support, comfort, and security to LGBTQ students is unheard of in my mind and unacceptable on many levels. While student run organizations are important, the staff, faculty, students, and other members of Pace University should have a center to congregate to, a center full of staff on hand ready to promote personal expression and enclose a circle of trust and strength for any person walking through the door. I truly believe that Pace University has the respect, resources, and personal obligation to this matter, and I hope with all my heart that administration will join forces to make this responsibility at hand a reality.

-Alia Barbano-George

Freshman at Pace University

 

It has been very disappointing recently in the LBGT community with the vote against gay marriage in the NYS senate. The fact that the federal government isn't involved is an issue of its own, but the core of the issue is people don't chose to be gay. Nor do they choose to live in a time where they are not treated equally under the law as citizens of the United States. Support is the main thing that members of this community need and support is the main thing the members of this community aren't getting. The community needs more.  A community center will bring a sense of understanding, safety and awareness to a school in a city that has a huge GLBT population. I believe this demand for change is beyond necessary, it is imperative for securing the futures of many alienated citizens of America.

-Jamie Gerace

Advocate for Social Justice

 

When I was in school and questioning my sexual orientation, it was wonderful to have an LGBTQ center available to me on campus where I could have my questions answered in a nonthreatening environment.  I became so involved in my school’s LGBTQ center that I ended up working there for a year, and eventually coming out as gay. I do not think that I could have done so when I did without the resources and support that I found in the LGBTQ center. I cannot imagine going to a school in which there is no place where queer and questioning people can go with their problems and concerns.

In addition to the advisory function that an LGBTQ center provides, it is also a space where people of all genders and sexualities can voice their opinions, plan and hold social events, and engage in strategic organizing. Such a center also eases the burden on the administration by providing a filter through which LGBTQ issues can be passed. Many times, these issues can be identified and solved before rising to the level of formal administrative action. In the instances when an LGBTQ issue is brought to the attention of the administration, the administration can rest assured that such issue is important to a wide swath of the LGBTQ community, rather than a minor grievance of a single individual. In all, an LGBTQ center can only help Pace students, and I urge you to create such a space on your campus.

-Arianne P.

Advocate for Social Justice

 

It has been brought to my attention that a group of people are working together and proposing the addition of a LGBTQ student advocacy office at Pace University.  I am writing, as a graduate student, to support the effort and insist it is a resource crucial to all university settings.  Too often GLBT students fall victim to discrimination and homophobia, as well as suffer from loniliness and a lack of community.  As a former employee of a similar Student Services office on a neighboring campus, I saw first hand how helpful centers like these are to the GLBT student population.  

Similar to other offices dealing with minority issues, these centers not only provide a safe, fun, and understanding social environment (crucial to a positive college experience); but they are also a resource for the university as a whole (in regards to material, academic, and social resources).  Furthermore, such GLBT centers have the necessary resources for dealing with more serious and specific issues faced by GLBT students.  They promote understanding, education and diversity and are highly valuable to any college setting.  I hope these efforts are given serious consideration as it will benefit not only the GLBT community, but Pace University as a whole.

-Kristen Singer

 

“The more we started living our lives in the open, the more vehemently people tried to deny us that right.” Dr.  Herbert

When I came out as a lesbian my parents were surprised and upset.  They said things that I’ll never forget.  I know I said things they will never forget as well.  When we had worked it out, after a few years of silence and anger, I wished, as many people do, that by virtue of living through that experience someone else might not have to endure it.  But everyone has to go through that experience on his or her own.  Many people endure, and many people do not.

When I was coming out, in the mid-90’s it seemed like the world was becoming progressively more open.  I never thought for a second that I wouldn’t be able to have a wedding ceremony someday, or children.  There were gay characters on the Real World; surely Ellen was gay; perhaps Rosie O’donnel too, heck, maybe even Oprah.  It just seemed like the world was become progressively safer, more accepting. 

Clinton got elected president.  Ellen and Anne Heche turned heads at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.  It seemed like everything was possible.  Then Clinton enacted Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and signed DOMA.  All of the seeming progress made in the media was having little effect on practical or political realities.  In fact, it seemed to be making it worse. 

The more we started living our lives in the open, the more vehemently people tried to deny us that right.  Conversion programs sprouted up promising to change people’s sexualities.  Matthew Shepherd was brutally beaten and left for dead.  Reverend Phelps organized a protest at his funeral.  And then for eight years, we were used as pawns to scare up votes.  State after state enacted constitutional amendments banning even the possibility of gay people getting married.  Several states do not allow gay and lesbians to adopt. 

The great strides that we have made in the media, in being out, have not made us any safer.  After Prop 8 passed in California, a lesbian who lived near San Francisco was beaten and gang-raped by four men who shouted anti-gay epithets as they assaulted her.  There are places in the world where gay and lesbian individuals can be killed.  We can’t be lulled into complacency by our increasing visibility, by the celebrities who show up at benefits, and donate to our causes.  This does not keep us safe. 

 

Centers like the one being proposed at Pace are not merely places where people can feel safe, they create safety.  Change will not be made by executive order, or by Oprah finally coming out, but by responding to the negativity, the hatred, and the violence with pride, fellowship, and love.  In the words of William S. Burroughs, “I might well have destroyed myself, ending an existence which seemed to offer nothing but grotesque misery and humiliation.  Nobler, I thought, to die a man than live on, a sex monster.  It was a wise old queen—Bob, we called her—who taught me that I had a duty to live and to bear my burden proudly for all to see, to conquer prejudice and ignorance and hate with knowledge and sincerity and love.  Whenever you are threatened by a hostile presence, you emit a thick cloud of love like an octopus squirts out ink…”

-Dr. Shannon Herbert
Professor, Santa Monica College

 

I want to live in a country that lives by the ideals upon which our country was supposedly founded.  I want to live in a place where everyone really is treated equally and there is freedom from tyranny and oppression.   I am ashamed to live in a country that claims to be progressive and forward-thinking while simultaneously denying civil rights to its citizens.  I am doubly ashamed that the legality of this oppression is based on religious beliefs.  Religion has been used too many times to perpetuate hatred – we should know better by now.  I am in support of Pace University in its pursuit to create an environment that fights tyranny and oppression.

-Abra Havens PsyD

Postdoctoral Fellow

 

Questioning one’s sexual identity is a daunting journey when people don't have support. Without having friends and family as an outlet to discuss these feelings, questions and thoughts become overwhelming. For me, not knowing where to find people who understood my feelings was isolating. Being with friends and family who were unaware of my thoughts was discouraging and I simply felt alone. A center that specifically caters to the LGBT population is a place that will be a bedrock of support to the entire Pace University student body.


People may argue that the current political climate demands this center, but I believe that this has always been an extreme need. The only difference is that now there are dedicated people who are inspired to give the unspoken a voice. I applaud this Task Force's commitment to this center and hope that one day I can come and visit.

-Julie H.

Fordham University School of Law

 

A straight-ally is there to support, hope, and accomplish. As a straight ally on the Pleasantville Campus, I am President of the Gay-Straight Alliance. I have seen LGBTQ students struggle to express themselves, defend themselves, and truly explore who they are. There are always incidents of discrimination that arise on our campus because not everyone understands or takes the time to learn more about the gay community. If a LGBTQ student could switch shoes with a straight student, life as we know it would become completely morphed into a new world. Having these LGBTQ centers on both campuses is a profound proposal and exciting opportunity. I know that the students in my organization find this to be an imperative step towards accomplishment and hope. We do not realize how colossal the LGBTQ community at Pace really is; that is because there is nowhere for them to go and no one for them to speak to. Students at the Pleasantville Campus who are LGBTQ may feel uncomfortable coming to my organization’s meetings and expressing their sexual orientation in front of strangers. Therefore, these LGBTQ centers would be a necessary step towards accepting the diversity that both campuses have and establishing a “safe-zone” where counselors, students, and staff can aid in the betterment of our Pace family. Our motto, “opportunitas”, is the foundation of why these centers should be advocated at Pace University. After all, everyone has an opportunity; what you do with that opportunity is what makes the difference.

-Alyssa Lago

President, Gay Straight Alliance

Sophomore, Pleasantville Campus