Clark College’s Queer Penguins and Allies club has decided that LGBTQ+ students need their own space on campus. They have plans to advocate for the construction of a Queer Resource Center over the next academic year.
QPA Vice President Rebecca Strizver said the school administration could green-light a Queer Resource Center as early as next year. Strizver said that Clark’s new interim president, Sandra Fowler-Hill, has already been very receptive to the construction of a Queer Resource Center at Clark.
“I think that we are heading in a more progressive direction,” Strizver said. “We have much more administrative support than we’ve had in the past. I think this is something we could bring forward and have it be part of this new direction for Clark.”
Strizver said some of the ways the QPA plan to advocate for a Queer Resource Center includes student petitions and tabling events, in addition to the events they already host
“Last year at our pride day event we had incredible attendance, more than we’ve had in many of the past years,” Strizver says. “Honestly we’re just breaching the tip of the iceberg as far as looking into what we can do.”
While the QPA, other LGBTQ+ students and staff have wanted a Queer Resource Center on campus for quite some time, there have been no organized, large-scale attempts to broach the subject with Clark’s administration until now.
Former staff adviser for the QPA Flyn Alexander believes this is due to LGBTQ+ students being hesitant to approach school leadership.
“We know that if a group is systemically non-dominant, like queer students, then they’re not going to be very trusting of the system,” Alexander said.
Clark doesn’t have a Queer Resource Center yet, but it does have the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI). The ODEI provides a safe meeting place for systemically non-dominant students, informational resources and funding for events that celebrate diversity and social equity.
Alexander says systemically non-dominant groups must compete with each other for use of the ODEI’s resources rather than standing united. Having a Queer Resource Center that provides specifically for the LGBTQ+ students on campus would allow the ODEI to focus on other systemically non-dominant groups.
In addition to supporting students, a Queer Resource Center could serve as a safe space for Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ community.
“We’re centrally located, right on the vine, on the bus line, close to downtown, close to I-5, why isn’t Clark the place that’s seeing this need?” said Alexander. “Our career services are accessible to anybody, why not create a Queer Resource Center that’s not just here for students specifically, but also for community members who are seeking support?”
Some of the QPA’s newfound determination may stem from Portland Community College, which built its first Queer Resource Center in 2011, and has had one on all four of their campuses since 2017. Azul Da Silva, Queer Resource Center coordinator at PCC’s Cascade campus, believes Clark’s QPA needs to work in partnership with the administration to see a Queer Resource Center built.
“Find who within the institution is a champion of it, and align with them,” they said.
Da Silva suggested that the ASCC would be a good place for the QPA to look for support. Newly-appointed ASCC President Evans Kaame said he believes in the idea of building a Queer Resource Center on campus.
“I think the school administration will look at the idea the same way I thought about it,” Kaame said. “It’s something they will look into, and if it fits the mission statement of the college about inclusion and making sure that everyone feels welcome at Clark College, there will be a positive attitude towards that kind of idea.”
Written by Indy reporter Adam Abarr