Office of the President

Meetings: 2010 (9.27) | The President’s Commission for LGBT Issues

PCLGBTI Meeting Minutes
September 27, 2010

2234 McKeldin Library

In attendance: Tosh Patterson, Jay Garvey, Dan Hayes, Demetrius Colvin, Nancy Yeroshefsky, Penny Jacobs, Tanner Wray (chair), JV Sapinoso, Laura Scott, Luke Jensen, Noah Drezner, Coke Farmer, Joan Bellsey, Hannah Wu, Nick Sakurai, Marilee Lindemann, Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Robert Mueck, Rob Waters, Natalia Cuadra-Saez, Brooke Auxier

I. Introductions/Welcome - Tanner

There are several new members on the Commission. Everyone at the table should feel free to participate fully. Once everyone responds to the Doodle survey, monthly meetings will be established for the future. Brooke will send out e-mails letting everyone know when those meetings are.

II. Role of President's Commission – Rob

As stated by Dr. Rob Waters, Assistant to the President, the formal role of the Commission is to advise the president on the state and overall health of the LGBT community on campus. The Commission also looks at the policies and practices that affect the community and what can be done to move forward and improve.

President Mote was very concerned with having a group of people who truly represented the campus on all levels. When Commission reported, he felt he received an accurate report from the entire community. The role of the Commission is to recommend policy. Under President Mote, the Commissions were advisory groups, not an action groups. He saw it as his role to make sure things are followed through after the Commission came to him with reports and observations.

Although President Loh's philosophy and the role of the Commissions is unclear as of now, Rob Waters hopes to move the Commissions towards a more action and program-oriented groups.

The four President's Commissions focus on: Ethnic Minority, Disability, Women, and LGBT Issues. The levels of activity are different for each commission. It depends on where the campus is in terms of needs and where attention needs to be focused at any given moment.

The Commissions report directly to the president. Rob Waters works with the Chairs on day to day tasks and relationships. In the past,commission chairs met annually with the president.

III. History of President's Commission – Coke, Luke, Marilee

(LUKE JENSEN, 1st Commission Chair)

The Commission was a direct result of a report, Embracing Diversity, issued by LGBT staff and faculty, and The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Alliance, a student group. It began in 1997 with about 20 intentionally balanced members. Initially, it worked to educate itself on basic things, because half of the group was allies. Jensen established three working groups: climate, curriculum and resources. The first major issue addressed was an LGBT resource center which was approved as the Office of LGBT Equity. Jensen worked with the Provost & President Brit Kirwan.

(MARTHA NELL SMITH, 2nd Commission Chair)

She integrated transgendered individuals into the name and mission of the Commission. She continued with the three working groups, naming Jensen as chair of the curriculum group, a position she held when Jensen chaired the commission. She also worked to create a coalition of commissions and led all four Presidential commissions in meeting together for the first time.

(VICKY FOXWORTH, 3rd Commission Chair)

(COKE FARMER, 4th Commission Chair)

The group created a report to recommend several things. The first of which was a Presidential task force. It was noted that group members may not have political expertise on policy issues. The group needed help if they wished to change policies. The second recommendation was to institutionalize LGBT Studies, which was successful and now the program has an academic home, director and faculty. The third focus of the report was domestic partnership benefits, and the group presented several major options. The president at the time said the University would pay for this and told the Commission he would honor the request, but not much changed. Faculty and staff gained "campus benefits." A number of faculty and staff still do not know that campus benefits exist. There is a need to constantly educate people about these issues.

(GRETCHEN METZELAARS, 5th Commission Chair)

Employees gained the benefits including health insurance coverage for domestic partners, but system benefits are still lacking (including tuition remission, family benefits). Domestic partners can benefit from health insurance. The tax issue still exists; some employers (not UM) compensate their employees.

(TANNER WRAY, 6th Commission Chair)

IV. Update from Brooke

She has been working to update the website and organize Commission membership. If anyone has minutes from past Commission meetings, please send them to Tanner or Brooke. Coke and Marilee both may have meeting minutes.

A roster spreadsheet with name, address, phone number and other contact information will be made up so everyone can check their information. This will be either sent out via e-mail or at the next meeting in hard-copy format.

V. Work for the Coming Year (Brainstorming)

*Commission Briefing for the New President

a. Inviting him to commission meeting

b. Setting expectations

*Building a Community on Campus

a. Open Forum(s)

b. Annual publication of the "Out List" –financed, LGBT Equity & Pride Alliance. The total cost is $4,000. Is there where we want to put our resources? There needs to be a conversation about the "Out List" (funding, wording, discontent, the utility of the list, intentions, etc.)

c. How is the campus organized around LGBT issues/ Offices working together

d. Need to find out what the campus climate is (forum, include everyone and focus on students, Pride Alliance is not the only outlet.).

e. LGBT Living community. Is the naming adequate? Is it inclusive enough?

f. Open to having more students and faculty on the Commission

1. Always had a Dean on the Commission… look into this.

2. More people of color

*Gender Neutral Bathrooms

*Diversity Strategic Plan

a. What does it mean for us to support implementation of the plan?


a. Currently, the Commission doesn't have awards. LGBT Equity oversees existing awards.

b. Additional award(s) that we can create that compliment what already exists

*LGBT Issues for Students Living on Campus

a. How does our campus compare to national findings?

1. 2010 State of Higher Education LGBT Campus Pride

2. We are on the index. Look at it as a guide.

3. What makes something an LGBT inclusive campus?

b. Make a list of policy interests.

1. List of things that have yet to change - campus and legislative issues that lack basic levels of inclusiveness.

c. Transgendered Students

1. Health care, non-discrimination policies.

2. How can Residential Life work to accommodate students living on campus?

i. Transparency when placing transgender students.

ii. How can students navigate the situation now?

iii. Tosh Patterson – working on this in Res. Life already.

*Graduate Student LGBT Issues

a. Queer Grads – New student group (Jay Garvey)

1. Concentration in creating LGBT studies for masters students

2. Outside of the humanities, there is no voice for LGBT research.

3. Providing visibility for students.

4. Look at graduate training in the field.

*System (USM) Policy Issues

a. Need to work on benefits at the USM level

b. Board of Regents gender identity protection discussion

*Curriculum (These issues are being worked on by Marilee & J.V.)

a. LGBT classes in the core?

b. Marilee is on the Committee for General Education Reform & understanding plural societies. Committee is working on co –facilitating workshops, raising consciousness, revising existing courses. Provides a different framework for looking at "differences." How are the courses going to fare underneath the new framework?

c. Co-listing courses in LGBT Studies with other areas.

*Open forums

a. Conduct them like the presidential search open forums

b. Focus them on general topics each forum

d. Or break them down into populations… grad students/students/faculty/staff

e. Also include an anonymous drop-box? A Doodle survey will be sent out to arrange members on topics and interests of the Commission once the topics have been organized. We will need those to be involved in the subcommittees, as well as those who would like to chair/co-chair a subcommittee. Laura, Nick & Brooke will be working with Tanner to package the topics of interest in a way that can be understood.

VI. Matters Arising – anything relevant to the group

All of the entries on the "Out List" are submitted electronically this year. To provide security for students, they must respond to the confirmation email or their name will not appear. Please help get the word out.

Why LGBT Office v. Resource Center?

a. The administration at the time wouldn't allow for a Center because of expenses.What do we call ourselves? What about "queer?" Terminology and naming should be discussed. Is "LGBT" current and relevant?

b. Students don't know about the Center or what there is to do there. It's a drop-in space where students can eat lunch and/or study. Still working towards making the physical reality of the space more useful.