Connie Robinson and Luke Chwala have been named liaisons to LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. The campus-wide Liaison Program designates point persons in the colleges and other offices to provide support for the LGBTQ+ community at Clemson University.
“I offer a space for students, faculty and staff to discuss their concerns, whether they’re issues at home or on campus,” Robinson said. “My door is always open.”
Robinson is the administrative coordinator in the office of James H. Spencer, associate dean of research and graduate studies in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. Chwala is a lecturer in the English department.
The Liaison Program is intended to make Clemson a more welcoming and inclusive place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students, faculty and staff.
“I hope to be a resource for anyone on campus who is LGBTQ but also for students who have LGBTQ family members and friends and want to learn more and understand them,” Chwala said.
The program links students and others to the University’s Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center, which supports and advocates for the diverse needs of all students.
“The program creates access points for student support,” Spencer said. “We’ve been thinking about these kinds of inclusive issues for a long time. It’s important to create structures that enable people to feel like they’re comfortable and connected to the College. Having that focal point gives people a map of where to go.”
“Our support of the LGBTQ+ community at Clemson is an integral part of the College’s belief in community,” said Timothy R. Boosinger, the College’s interim dean. “All members of the Clemson Family should feel safe and welcome.”
Boosinger added that the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities is exploring opportunities to further support LGBTQ+ programs and initiatives offered through the Gantt Center, including possible co-sponsorship of spring graduation celebrations.
Robinson said that as part of her CAAH liaison responsibilities, she hopes to host meetings, conduct fundraisers and bring speakers to campus.
Students have requested courses in LGBTQ+ literature, Chwala said, and he is now teaching two sophomore-level classes on the theme this semester.
“Clemson really needs courses in LGBTQ studies, literature and history, and I want to be the person who can offer that,” he said.
Across the Clemson campus, there currently are 11 liaisons in the program, said Ciera Durden, associate director for multicultural community development in the Gantt Multicultural Center.
People in the program are required to have participated in ally training, aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues.
Placing liaisons in fraternities, sororities, dorms and student health services was a priority for Durden. She hopes to recruit liaisons in Clemson colleges and elsewhere across campus. Those interested in becoming an LGBTQ+ liaison should contact Durden at email@example.com.
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