For most students here at the University of California, Davis, being an Aggie means that you have the privilege of attending classes at a large university full of unlimited resources and wonderful peers. Unfortunately, this also means that many students are unaware of the available resources on campus. Despite the numerous flyers attached all over school, it took me approximately a year to discover that we could receive free tutoring located at the Student Academic Success Center or that we had a Pantry for students who don’t have access to basic necessities due to financial difficulties. With everyone’s busy class schedules, internships, and part-time jobs, many students end up graduating without ever using these facilities. One of my personal favorite resources available at UCD is the LGBTQIARC (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex Asexual Resource Center) located in the Student Community Center along with the Cross Cultural Center. I spoke with the director of the LGBTQIARC to learn more about this resource.
Being a student at UCD, I’ve always felt safe and comfortable in my environment. Not only have I felt secure in Davis, but I also assumed that everyone else felt the same way. However, I now realize that this isn’t the case for everyone. I recall having a discussion in a women’s studies course here at UCD regarding the types of oppression and privileges that exist on campus. While I couldn’t think of any instances in which I experience prejudism, I discovered that many students who identify themselves as a part of the LGBTQIA community have had different experiences. For example, some students felt that they were at a disadvantage due to the lack of gender-neutral restrooms. Others have experienced verbal attacks for their appearance. While UCD is certainly a friendly and welcoming campus, we also need to acknowledge that there are always going to be issues that need to be addressed.
In a large, community-driven university such as UCD, students should be given the opportunity to become educated about social oppression and marginalization. According to Elizabeth Coté, director of the LGBTQIA center, “the LGBTQIA Resources Center aims to affirm and serve trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming folks, women, femmes, and all marginalized genders.” One way that the center affirms and serves marginalized genders is through outreach and education about gender as a system of oppression like cissexism and sexism. The education that the LGBTQIARC promotes regards all sexes, genders, and sexualities for students who want to learn more about the community through various programs such as Cuppa Tea, a bi-weekly discussion and processing space; Crafternoons, a weekly expressive arts and community building space, and the Mental Health Series – ongoing conversation regarding mental wellness and self-care.
The resource also focuses on LGBTQIA scholars who come from different marginalized backgrounds. The type of education, programs, outreach, and advocacy that this center provides helps students learn to become more inclusive and open-minded. A response that a scholar has given is that they felt “a lot more comfortable being a student at UCD, knowing that there is an extremely supportive group of LGBTQIA people on campus.” Another scholar said, “I feel more empowered about myself and others and my eyes have been opened to so many issues, terms, concerns, etc. not only in my life but in the lives of our brothers, sisters, twisters and everyone in between. Thank you for this life altering, eye-opening, heart warming, tear-jerking, awe-inspiring, faith in humanity restoring event. I love you and I love myself.” Most importantly, it has taught them to become more inclusive, thoughtful, and considerate and how to utilize their privileges and knowledge to create a better community within UCD.
The LGBTQIARC is confidential, safe, and inclusive, meaning that anyone is always welcome to visit during their hours. It is open between Monday-Thursday, 10AM-6PM and on Fridays between 9AM-5PM.
Remember, they are here to serve you as students!