The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Resources will relocate from Swing Space to the ground floor of Founders Hall in August, according to an email Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews sent to students Wednesday morning.
The office, which was founded in 2009 and has operated out of Swing Space since 2013, provides programming, education and outreach to the University community on topics concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. The move to Founders Hall, located at 135 Prospect St., will situate the office in a 2,200-square-foot space with a lounge, full kitchen, all-gender restrooms and a multipurpose room for events. The office will also have shared access to 1,400 square feet of meeting space and two exterior courtyards. Students and faculty interviewed said the office’s new home will provide a more accessible meeting space for Yale’s LGBTQ community and enable its growth.
“The relocation and expansion of the office is terrific materially and symbolically,” said Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies professor Joseph Fischel. “I have been on campus for a relatively short period of time — four academic years — but it strikes me that the Yale community is by and large celebratory of gender and sexual diversity. So it is wonderful to see this appreciation institutionalized.”
Maria Trumpler, the director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources and a WGSS professor, said the size and amenities of the new location — which was designed by architecture firm Moser Pilon Nelson Architects and housed the School of Management until early 2014— will allow the office to expand programming and host more events. She added that the new space will ideally look and feel more like a cultural center, with drop-in space and a house staff like that of the four cultural centers. The office will be open daily until 10 p.m., and student staff will be available for conversations and programming, Trumpler said.
The administration’s decision to move and expand the office comes at a particularly significant political moment, Trumpler said.
“In this moment where the federal government seems to be pulling back on support for LGBTQ rights, it’s really a nice moment to have Yale so visibly and financially expressing its support for the LGBTQ community,” Trumpler said.
In fall 2016, the Yale College Council LGBT Resources Task Force released a report calling for the relocation and expansion of the LGBTQ Resource Office, based on student feedback that the physical space was too small. The current office shares Swing Space with the Consent and Communication Educators’ office as well as the Office of Alcohol and Drugs Harm Reduction Initiative.
Following the report’s release, the administration acknowledged that the office needed a better space but could not find an available location, said Max Goldberg ’17, who served as the director of the YCC LGBTQ Resources Task Force. After the report came out, the administration decided to pair the office’s relocation and renovation with the construction of the new residential colleges by moving the center to Founders Hall, he added.
“I think the task forces are really important examples of how students can change the University by working with administrators as opposed to other options where they treat administrators as antagonists,” Goldberg said. “I really hope that students look to these changes and see these changes as a result of sustained proactive engagement with the administration.”
Students and faculty interviewed expressed enthusiasm about the expansion and relocation of the office, though some shared concerns about its location relative to the rest of campus.
Kyle Ranieri ’18, who serves on the planning committee for the expanded office, said he saw a demand among students for more space and resources, especially since there is currently no space designated specifically for LGBTQ programming that can accommodate a large number of people. He added that he was not concerned about the office’s location, arguing instead that the center of campus will shift north with the opening of the new colleges.
Goff-Crews said the office’s home will be a great central location for undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff. She added that the opening of Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges this fall will make this area of campus even more centralized.
Tim Cox ’17, a peer liaison for the office, said he was excited that the new building will give the office its own space, increasing its capacity to host events. Lane To ’19, who also serves on the planning committee, said many of their queer friends have expressed disappointment at the location. However, they said that though the location was not ideal, they still think that the office will benefit from the new space.
“We hope very much that the expansion of the space from the previous shared offices in Swing Space will in turn be accompanied by an expansion in programming and community engagement across our college campus, and that this new, dedicated space will become a home that reinforces the community building and organizing efforts, towards which so many staff and students before us have devoted much of their labor and time in recent years,” Laurence Bashford ’18, a Spectrum fellow and LGBTQ Student Cooperative coordinator told the News on behalf of the Co-op and fellows.
Florian Carle, co-chair of the LGBTQ Affinity Group, said the move will increase the office’s visibility on campus, adding that its proximity to the Schwarzman Center will hopefully make it a “beacon of diversity” on campus.
The location at the corner of Prospect and Sachem streets is accessible by all central campus shuttle lines.