LGBT center slowed by insufficient funding

Plans for a LGBT resource center are still being spoken of, months after the petition to jumpstart the facility was released.

The center comes as part of the president’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion’s Diversity Plan.

Jody Cofer, academic program specialist and Alliance adviser, said he thinks the institution is trying to figure the best way to respond to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

“We clearly are in tight budget times and there are a lot of different factors that come into play at its core,” Cofer said. “We are talking about groups of students that are at risk in part because of their sex or heighten risk with different needs.”

While Cofer sat at his desk, he thought of questions he had about the University providing students with some type of resource center.

He addressed the fact of scarce resources and limited funds. Cofer questioned how the University would respond and give some relief to the needs.

Cofer said the idea is to have a room in which students could gather and network, as well as provide a safe place where they could work through issues as a LGBT community.

“We’re getting on the extreme what a center might look like,” Cofer said. “A little staffing, spacing and training to be that contact.”

He said the petition that was sent around said student’s resources and staffing. Truth is a lot of the people that have been talking about a LGBT center its not a grand as some people want to make it.

“This is a student issue, this is for a population of students,” Cofer said. “We have a good number of LGBT students, which add another layer to our institution.”

At the Board of Regents meeting on April 27 the LGBT center was not addressed on the list of expenditures.

President Randy Dunn said he thinks our LGBT community has its goal, that they would like to see the creation of a resource center such as we have for other groups on campus.

“I’m open to consideration of that, but clearly we’re not at a period of time that we can be adding on a lot of services,” Dunn said. “In fact, we’re going to coming into a year where instead of looking to add and expand services, we’re probably going to be looking to do some reallocation and find some increase in efficiencies in the system.”

He said he would like to talk looking at current staffing and figuring out if there may be a way to provide some support services from current staffing.

“I don’t see a center coming online for next year or expansion of student services generally, but I understand the needs they’re expressing and we’re going to look to see if within existing staffing, we can figure out a way to provide some assistance,” Dunn said.

Mike Young, assistant vice president of Student Affairs said the University is serious about its diversity plan, it is a major undertaking to develop a plan which has to be submitted to the CPE, and has been.

“If the resource center is in the plan then obviously it will happen, but they may be waiting for the budget to support it as well,” Young said. “I’m certain the diversity plan itself is a document the University feels very strongly about.”

Young said students feel the resource center would be a place they would be able to go to get help, services or whatever they need, so it would be a great benefit to students.

Tom Denton, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services, said there were no funds set aside for the center that he was aware of. I

“If we had gift money from a third party source we could most likely use it for that purpose,” Denton said.

Shamike Stiles, freshman from Chicago, Ill., said the LGBT community at Murray State needs a safe place where personal and academic needs can be fostered and with a staff that is educated in LGBT services, they could provide students with the proper resources.

“I am from Chicago, Ill. when I came to small college town Murray, my mother was terrified for me because I was an out lesbian,” Stiles said. “I can honestly say the Murray State campus has been more LGBT friendly that I expected.”

Stiles who is the president of Alliance for the 2012-13 school year said she knows she will be faced with challenges that she can not handle.

“Murray State’s Alliance works hard to create a safe place for LGBT students on campus but we are students ourselves,” Stiles said. “A center would make Murray State safer, more aware of LGBT issues and give those who are in need of help a welcoming door to knock on.”