By Anna Toth
Cleveland State recently opened the LGBTQ+ Center in Main Classroom Room 211 to create a safe space on campus for queer identifying students. A part of the LGBTQ+ Student Services, the LGBTQ+ Center is also meant to connect students to needed resources.
Graduate assistant Erica Goebel — a member of the LGBTQ+ community themselves — was brought on this year to help reestablish LGBTQ+ Student Services as well as help run the new LGBTQ+ Center.
“LGBTQ+ Student Services is a resource for students,” Gobel said.
Depending on the student’s needs, LGBTQ+ Student Services can direct them to resources on and off campus for additional support. It also provides Safe Space training to departments, groups and organizations on campus on request.
Resources that LGBTQ+ Student Services links to includes the Counseling Center and the LGBT Center of Cleveland. Information about these resources can be found within the new LGBTQ+ Center on campus.
“Another big piece of LGBTQ+ Student Services is the LGBTQ+ Center, the home base of this work and a sort of safe haven for students to come and be with the community in a shared space,” Gobel said.
Students can go to the center and access any and all of the resources provided by LGBTQ+ Student Services. But most importantly, the center serves as a safe space for LGBTQ+ students to just exist in their community.
“Students can come to the LGBTQ+ Center and hang out, do homework, look at and take posters about upcoming events,” Gobel said.
They also explained that students can make buttons in the center and talk with other students about current events in the world, their lives and on campus.
The LGBTQ+ Center was opened officially on Oct. 12, days before President Ronald M. Berkman’s response to a homophobic poster on campus went viral. In the wake of that incident, Gobel emphasizes the massive amount of support they’ve received from places on Campus.
“The timing of the opening of the center in today’s political and social climate is precarious,” Gobel said, “I’m glad to have found support from many on and off campus sources.”
These sources include Residence Life, Student Life, the Counseling Center, and many more places on campus that have visibly supported the LGBTQ+ Center with the Love is Greater Campaign. These places have also sent out fliers for LGBTQ+ Student Services in an attempt to increase visibility of the program.
In addition, Gobel also mentions the LGBTQ+ and Trans Support Groups available through the Cleveland State Counseling Center.
While the LGBTQ+ Center acts as the first stop for the Cleveland State community looking for resources, Gobel says that the center exists primarily to be a safe space for students.
“Being a safe space is the primary goal and most important piece,” Gobel said. “Resources and such come after safety.”