OU plans to construct a new study lounge for LGBTQ students in the Union to help build community as its movement for campus-wide inclusivity continues.
A group of students called Queer Inclusion on Campus came together in late February to discuss the issues that the LGBTQ community faces at OU. Women and gender studies and English senior Alexander Ruggiers, who is a member of the group, said it is a group of students who came together to try to understand the needs of the LGBTQ community. The members wrote a 20-page report which included the many things that LBGTQ students wanted to see changed at OU, he said.
“Queer Inclusion on Campus is an initiative of several students representing the issues that are important to the LGBTQ community," Ruggiers said. "We produced a document that we delivered to a lot of high level administrators about things that we wanted to see changed."
One of the things the members wanted was an LGBTQ resource center. However, after talking to OU President David Boren and other university officials, they agreed to start with a study lounge, Ruggiers said.
“Through a meeting with President Boren and other high level administrators we reached a happy medium which was a new LGBTQ study area," Ruggiers said.
Kasey Catlett, the assistant director of LGBTQ and health programs at the Women's Outreach Center, said that the study room will help build community and allow students to come together to meet people in a safe space. He also said it will allow students to hang out and be themselves. Catlett said that details like its appearance and its opening date have not been determined yet.
“It’s going to be huge ... I think it’s going to be used for a number of things, one, to have a sense of community, something that LGBTQ students have never had before," Ruggiers said. "I am looking forward to seeing what it will look like and walking by seeing students utilizing it.”
Human relations sophomore David Martin is excited about the study room because it will allow students to hang out in a comfortable place without judgement or bullying. LGBTQ students will be able to comfortably socialize and be with their significant other without fear, he said.
“It goes back to having a safe haven … having a safe place will help students be themselves, and provide the opportunity to reduce harassment," Martin said.
Ruggiers said that even though the LBGTQ lounge represents a big step towards social change, members of Queer Inclusion on Campus will keep fighting to reach other goals like safe and inclusive housing, diversity training for faculty and staff and a resource center.
“There is still a lot of work to do," Ruggiers said. "We definitely do not want this to be seen as our one victory and that we need to be happy with what we have now and forget all of the needs that are not being met on this campus.”