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Thursday, May 30, 2024
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UW-Madison’s Gender & Sexuality Campus Center celebrates 30th anniversary

To commemorate the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center’s 30 years of providing support and advocating for inclusivity in the University of Wisconsin-Madison community. Students and faculty members of all sexual orientations and gender identities gathered on Tuesday, Oct 11, in the Pyle Center to remark on the center’s longstanding legacy. 

Three decades ago, the center was started with seven key principles in mind — including: intersectionality, social justice, empowerment, celebration, community, collaboration and inclusivity.

Despite several location changes and name rewrites, assistant dean and director of the center, Warren Scherer affirmed how, “at the core the Campus Center’s goals have remained the same,” and that the center acts as “a resource for the campus community when it comes to LGBTQ+ communities,” in addition to helping “promote an inclusive campus climate.” 

Alnisa Allgood, credited for the Center’s formation, came to Madison from Penn State University  and approached many groups on campus not long after her arrival to create an organized LGB (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual) Center. Allgood proposed it be funded primarily by student fees, rather than by the Board of Regents, which eventually permitted the idea to finally become a reality. 

Acting as the first director, Allgood began with a team of just two other people. Now, 30 years later, the staff and center’s outreach have grown substantially. 

The 30th birthday celebration was on National Coming Out Day, where a new “coming out door” was added to the previous door already in the possession of the center from its 20th anniversary in 2012. This new door granted the opportunity for students to sign their names and leave any messages of support for others.

Beyond just the addition of a new door, the Oct 7 celebration called for “a slide show of the GSCC’s & UW-Madison’s LGBTQ+ history, food, games, conversation, friend-making and a few words from me,” Scherer stated. 

The impact of the center isn’t entirely measurable of course, but staff members such as Scherer, “believe for some students the Campus Center has been integral to them having a positive experience by working cross campus to change policy and procedure.” For other students, Scherer said, it acts as “a nightlight to diminish feeling alone,” especially if those students “experienced isolation prior to coming to campus.”

Throughout the remainder of the month, the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center will continue its weekly meetings for countless different groups and host a Trans-Community Day on Oct 24. Similar to the recent celebration, members of the community can stop by for “crafts, games, food and a day of sharing space,” as well as screenings of films. 

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