A new office for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Student Involvement and Leadership, under the guidance of student affairs, was created this past spring to meet the needs of LGBT students and raise awareness of the issue at the University.
Michael Brown was hired this summer as coordinator. This position is intended to serve as an advisor, advocate and resource to lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex students and allies. The coordinator’s work focuses on student group leadership and collaboration with students and campus colleagues to address issues of difference, campus climate, culture and sensitivity.
A Student Union resolution passed two years ago encouraged University administrators to begin examining how they could better serve this diverse population of students who were not being served through current means.
“We realized with the passing of the Student Union resolution that it was important for us to begin having some serious conversations on this issue and to hear what concerns students had,” said Jill Carnaghi, Ph.D., director of campus life and assistant vice chancellor for students.
A 24-member task force, comprised of students, faculty and staff, was formed to find ways to develop a structured support system and to promote a more LGBT friendly campus. T.R. Kidder, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences, chaired the task force .
One of the recommendations of the task force was to hire a staff person to coordinate LGBT issues on campus.
Michael Brown started in that role on July 2.
“I have been incredibly impressed with the staff, faculty and students at the University since I first interviewed,” Brown said. “I have found the campus to be a very welcoming place and I’m excited by how prepared and motivated everyone seems to be to work on LGBT issues.”
Before coming to WUSTL, Brown worked as an equity and social justice educator and coordinator for men’s outreach at Iowa State University. He has a master’s degree in education from Iowa State and a bachelor’s degree in economics from New York University.
“I am especially interested in how I can help LGBT students and their allies structure their involvement and leadership experiences in a way that adds value to their college experience while simultaneously creating opportunities to improve the campus climate and culture,” he said. “I know that sounds like a tall order, but so far every student I have met here seems up to the challenge.”
Brown has been working on some of the guidelines and ideas proposed to him by the task force.
“More and more I am finding that a lot of these measures are already in the pipeline-or in some cases- already in place,” he said. “Clearly there is quite a bit of momentum on campus to address LGBT issues, and I hope that my presence here will serve to accelerate that.
“My goal for this work is to make the University a national trendsetter in the next few years. At the moment I think we are pretty evenly matched with most of our peer institutions, but by the time we invite the class of 2013 to campus I want my colleagues in LGBT student resources to look at WUSTL for a vision of where our field is headed,” Brown said.