LGBTQIA+ University Caucus celebration
Welcome to the LGBTQIA+ University Caucus celebration site for West Chester University’s 150 Anniversary! This site has four sections: this page, which includes letters of welcome from our 2021-2022 co-chairs; Our History – a collection of photos and articles from WCU’s newspapers and yearbooks, showcasing the history of the LGBTQIA+ community at WCU; Our Voices – a video collection of stories by past and present LGBTQIA+ community members on their experiences at WCU; and Our Present – a video presentation by the Sexuality and Gender Alliance students showing their current efforts to promote a safe, welcoming environment for all LGBTQIA+ students! Thank you to all those who helped with this effort, especially the members of our committee: Meg Panichelli, Summer Davey, Jackie Hodes, and Meredith Foster.
LGBTQIA+ University Caucus 150 Committee Chair
Letters from the Co-Chairs
My name is Steven Feldman (he/they) and I began working as the Assistant Director of the Center for Trans & Queer Advocacy at WCU during the summer of 2020. I identify as queer and have the privilege of serving as co-chair of the LGBTQIA+ University Caucus. The LGBTQIA+ University Caucus is an organization at West Chester University comprised of faculty and staff who are dedicated to making the campus a more equitable and inclusive place for trans and queer students, faculty, and staff. Each year, the Caucus takes on a number of projects to help foster this campus climate such as developing resources and documents, making policy recommendations, and serving as an advocating body on campus for LGBTQIA+ community needs.
In the Summer of 2020, the Caucus formally changed its name from the LGBTQA Advocacy Committee. In addition to the name change, the Caucus also changed the structure of the organization including membership, responsibilities, and scope. The new structure better allows for consistency in membership which in turn helps the Caucus tackle a number of projects in confidence that they will be successful in completing them.
At West Chester University, the Caucus is tremendously important. Advocacy work must come from all areas across the university. This body, which brings together faculty and staff from various disciplines and divisions helps amplify the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community. In working together, we can get a more complete picture of the climate for LGBTQIA+ people on campus and can collaborate on efforts to improve the climate. Additionally, we can work with students on campus, in particular with the Sexuality and Gender Alliance and the Student Government Association, to help support them in their own advocacy efforts. Where students may feel as if they do not have the power to make substantial changes on campus, we can support them in either lifting up their voices or bringing them to the table where the conversations are taking place.
On a personal note, I am extraordinarily excited to take part in leading this group in this new iteration of advocacy. During my first year as a staff member at WCU, I have begun to better understand our campus’s strengths as well as our areas for growth. And I have found community with the other members of the Caucus. It is a truly dedicated group of faculty and staff, and I am confident that together, we will help make significant changes.
I am Liam Oliver Lair, a faculty member in the Women’s & Gender Studies department at WCU. I also identify as trans, as queer, as a feminist, and am currently co-chair of the LGBTQIA University Caucus. The Caucus exists to promote the visibility and inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, and Ace individuals as well as all others who identify with the vast spectrum of genders and sexualities that fall under the umbrella of “queer.” The LGBTQIA University Caucus has been in existence for many years (although under a different name until last year). We seek to connect with the growing community of LGBTQIA student, staff, and faculty on the campus of West Chester University and advocate for the most pressing issues related to equity and access. We want to work in solidarity with communities across campus to address the ways in which homophobia and transphobia exist at the intersections of racism, ableism, and other forms of oppression. We also work to highlight the transformative joy that queerness can bring to our lives. As WCU approaches its 150th year, we want to celebrate this joy. In our efforts to empower and amplify the voices of students, staff, and faculty who are LGBTQIA+, we invite you to explore this site, listen to the voices of those in our communities, and seek ways to work in solidarity to make WCU a more equitable space regardless of identity or embodiment.