For all students, whether new or returning, there are many places to gather resources for a successful collegiate career at UVU. One such area is the LGBT Student Services office located in LA-118A.
UVU’s LGBT Student Services was created as a part of the Multicultural Student Services office back in 2015, but branched off into its own entity starting in October 2022. The office has plans to move into the Woodbury Business building in fall 2023 with a larger lounge and office space. “We will be in a safe location off the pathway of heavy traffic, but still easy to find, still close to campus, and still close to public transit so it can be easily accessible to students,” said director Matthew Robins, who uses he/him pronouns.
Since its inception, the LGBT Student Services office has advocated strongly for students of the LGBTQ+ community and has generated resources all over campus such as all-gender restrooms, one-on-one student support and group therapy, as well as a safe environment for students to visit or study in. For students wanting to get more involved with the LGBT Student Services, there are plenty of ways for students to stay updated about upcoming events and initiatives.
“The first thing I would recommend for new students looking to get involved is to follow us on Instagram @uvulgbtq,” said Robins. “From there we post information on our different events, initiatives. We [have a lot of] educational resources [for] students about the history of queer liberation and the queer movement. We are partnering a lot with different identity-based groups across campus to talk about intersectionality [within] our community for our students of color, our indigenous students, our Latino students, our Black students, [and] so we are really focusing this year on making sure they feel included. A lot of queer spaces [can be] predominantly white, so one of our goals is to really make sure that our students of color feel comfortable in our space and feel valued. That their stories and perspectives are amplified with the events that we are planning.”
Robins also emphasized the importance of visiting the LGBT Student Services office, open from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Friday being a quiet, focused day for homework and reflection. “The queer community also [experience] a lot of neurodivergence, and so a lot of [students] are looking for a more quiet, safe space.” Also on campus, and closely partnered with LGBT Student Services, is Spectrum: Queer Student Alliance. Spectrum, a student-led club at UVU has its own activities students can attend.
“Another thing I would add,” said coordinator Bailey Baird, who uses pronouns she/they. “Is feel comfortable [reaching out] to us. We’ve had a lot of people who just want to help volunteer, who want to help out when we have events. We are not scary, [and] we want people to be involved.”
LGBT Student Services also provides Safe Zone training for faculty and staff. According to Baird, “Safe Zone is training is about fostering an environment of inclusion for LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies on our campus and in the surrounding community.”
The training raises visibility and promotes ally building through:
- Educating individuals on LGBTQIA+ issues relating to gender and sexuality and how one can intervene when they witness discrimination
- Creating visibility of people can provide resources for LGBTQIA+ community members
- Creating a safe environment on campus free of restrictive transphobia, homophobia, heterosexism and cisgender bias
Safe Zone Training is a multi-level program to ensure that there was adequate education was provided before someone is given the “Safe Zone Trained” sign for their offices. The Level 1 General is a more introductory training course and will go over the basics. The second option is for departments to request specific training more modified to the needs and questions of those who are requesting it.
Another educational resource provided by the LGBT Student Services is called InQueery. InQueery seeks to foster an inclusive campus community that welcomes, understands and supports the identities and experiences of every individual. “It is a program where professors will request for us to come into their space,” stated Baird. “And we will have a panel of students our office will train. It can be a general panel where the students talk about their identities, maybe coming out stories, and then just answering questions. It’s a really cool way for students to get involved with being put into classrooms and building leadership skills, as well as educating across campus.” Faculty can sign up for a student panel and request certain material to be reviewed prior to the meeting and address any specific questions or topics they want to be covered. Students can also sign up to participate in the panel discussions.
For students who are not a part of the queer community but who want to be involved and show support, Robins suggests attending events. “I think coming and supporting those events, educating yourself as a straight ally or a [cisgender] ally, and learning about the trans experience or the queer student of color experience and amplifying those voices. Supporting those events, I think, goes a long way, and being a person in the sea shows that there are people and allies on campus.”
For queer students in need of support, the LGBT Student Services office is the perfect place to start. “You are valid with who you are, regardless of whatever people tell you,” stated Baird. “It’s okay to be fluid, it’s okay to be yourself and we are definitely here to try and help you.”
Robins added, “UVU is a lot more of an inclusive space than people think, especially for being in Utah County, in the state of Utah. There’s definitely a lot of work to do, but there are a lot of advocates and allies in administration, faculty and staff [who] are here to support students. Who are willing to learn, willing to be educated. Although some people don’t agree with the queer community [and] are sometimes more vocal, there are still just as many allies on campus who are wanting to help students.”