Office of the President

Meetings: 2010 (10.25) | The President’s Commission for LGBT Issues

PCLGBTI Meeting Minutes
October 25, 2010

2234 McKeldin Library

In attendance: Tanner Wray, Brooke Auxier, Joan Bellsey, Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Demetrius Colvin, Natalia Cuadra-Saez, Noah Drezner, Sue Elliot, Coke Farmer, Jay Garvey, Shaunna Lynette Payne Gold, Luke Jensen, Marilee Lindeman, JV Sapinoso, Laura Scott

1. Agenda Review

a. Need to talk about partner insurance b. Discuss the addition of graduate students on the Commission

2. Updates from Tanner/Brooke

a. Meetings have been scheduled through May. All of the meetings will be in McKeldin on the 2nd floor except for the December meeting that will be on the 7th floor.

b. Tanner is working to follow up with students for the Commission with Jay Garvey. Students from the Pride Alliance showed an interest and some graduate students showed interest.

c. A question was posed about spouse benefits. University System of Maryland Board of Regents redefined “spouse” and now recognizes marriages that were made legal in other jurisdictions. It also includes a version of the federal Family Medical Leave Act. Dale Anderson, Director of Personnel Services said after the BOR changes policy, they usually send out notifications within a week. Tanner has been in contact with Dale and will pass on any information as it comes through. The spousal benefits were passed last summer for the entire state and Maryland recognizes marriages in other states. Spouse is different, however, from domestic partner. USM gives health insurance benefits for domestic partners, as well as campus benefits such as access to the library and gym facilities.

d. Student groups have come together on issues of bullying. The PCLGBTI should support the students groups. The Commission needs to discuss what this support looks like and how the Commissioners can contribute to the cause. This needs to be taken another step further. Would anyone like to head the Commissions research and support of student groups and their efforts towards current LGBT tragedies?

e. Emails notifications about events, etc. can go straight to the reflector and do not have to go through Tanner. f. Brooke passed around a spreadsheet with all the Commissioners contact information. Please review this document (to be sent out soon) and get back to Brooke with any changes. This document will appear on the website eventually.

3. Activities underway on campus related to bullying, etc.

a. JAY GARVEY: Two weeks ago a call was put out on how to respond to the national tragedies. Results: i. UMD has contributed to the national “It Gets Better” campaign. A YouTube/Facebook page was made. Everyone on the PCLBGTI is welcome to contribute through any form of expression. The Facebook page is “It Gets Better – UMD.” ii. The Pride Alliance held a candle light vigil. It was well attended and there was faculty/staff participation as well. The Diamondback wrote articles about recent tragedies and coming out on campus.

b. LUKE JENSEN– First Year Experience is a joint project with the Office of LGBT and Orientation Office (Luke… can you help me understand this? Thanks!). Dian Squire runs “The One Project” and we need to make sure this program continues on campus. i. The campus needs more policies to address bullying. ii. Create circulation on these issues and campaigns, such as the “It Gets Better” campaign. Everyone in the campus community is encouraged to submit something, as well as allies. Luke suggested looking at the submissions by Tim Gunn & President Obama.

c. MARK BRIMHALL – the “It Gets Better” campaign lacks sociopolitical context. It in no way connects these tragedies to institutions. Not connected to churches, military, etc. i. It is possible to create a new framework that reflects your sentiments. You may center your message on the UMD experience and not the national campaign. ii. Some are unfamiliar with what that kind of pressure means. Some never had to deal with Facebook and/or video streaming. Maybe it doesn’t get better – unless you work really hard at it and be proactive.

d. NOAH DREZNER– There is a need to work towards that activism on campus. We as a group need to work hard at this and it may be fitting that the Commission provide a framework and structure for activism and rally towards actual advocacy.

i. Bringing student groups together to look at programs in D.C. that have pulled together strong advocacy and social justice frameworks and programs. Provide training for students so they can feel empowered instead of just taking instruction from administrators/professors. Noah will help look into facilitating these workshops.

ii. Luke Jensen mentioned the National Consortium of Directors of LGBT Resources in Higher Education. Through this he has found there is more happening on our campus than any other campus in the area.

iii. A problem arises when students feel disengaged from the institution and have to rely on their own individual initiatives… Because a lot of people in the LGBT community do not feel connected to the institution.

e. There has been successful initiative in areas of gender-neutral bathrooms.

i. The idea of a Town Hall meeting created by the President’s Commission and how it would be perceived by the students/community was discussed. Students may be better at organizing when there is a cause. Students will speak up when they are given an opportunity to speak.

ii. We give students a chance to speak out but what is the topic?

1. How do students organize off campus? They need that experience too.

2. Need to learn advocacy skills in order to impact the community. Providing them with opportunities to gain momentum.

iii. NATALIA – The event would not be institutionalized because students are on the Commission. We could team up with SGA and can make sure students get involved.

1. Town Hall – a little structure but then a lot of time to vent. The cause will come out in the process but the town hall needs to create a venue for students to speak out.

4. Work For the Coming Year: SEE ATTACHED DOCUMENT

a. Role of the Committees within the Commission

i. Hold a meeting before the end of the year. Report back to the Commission.

ii. Consider meeting during this time slot during off-weeks because we know it works

iii. Committees can request to be on the next meetings agenda to discuss findings and propose ideas/action.

5. Graduate students on the Commission

a. What is the point of limiting the group? More students will only expand coverage and attach the PC to other communities.

b. There are four grads and four undergrad students interested. All of the grad students interested are from Queen Grads.

c. Participation in the Commission should be integrated into the responsibilities of the student groups and should perhaps be an executive board position?

d. Look at the student involvement on the sub-committees rather than expecting them to participate on the Commission. They can choose to be a part of the Commission as a whole, or just participate in a sub-committee.

6. Matters Arising

a. LGBT Equity open house & library re-launch on Thursday, Nov. 11 from 2-5 p.m. in 0119 Cole Student Activities Building.

b. Hamsa held their first Shabbat of the year. A speaker came from New York, Chani Getter. It was smaller than in the past, but still well attended.

c. Pride Alliance is hosting “A Fall from Grace: A Gothic State Far” on Friday, October 29 in the Stamp Student Union Atrium.