Three vie for GLBTA spot

GLBTA Programs Office director candidates finished public presentations Monday.

Hailey Colwell

The University of Minnesota’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Programs Office is nearing the end of its search for a new director.

Three finalists for the position recently gave public presentations that addressed challenges in LGBT acceptance on campus and offered ways to make the University more inclusive.

The director reports to the Assistant Vice President for Equity and Diversity and is responsible for communicating the needs and issues of the LGBT community to different parts of the University. The director also provides resources to people who experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender
expression.

Owen Marciano, an adviser in the College of Education and Human Development, is one of the candidates for the position.

Marciano said he knew he wanted to work with college students ever since he received his bachelor’s degree.

“I believe in the power of young people to transform our campus, to transform our broader communities and to be leaders in our movement for justice on campus,” he said.

Marciano, the GLBTA Program Office’s former assistant director, said the University has a lot going for it because of its variety of LGBT student groups, such as the Queer Student Cultural Center, and a 20-year-old programs office.

But the University also has challenges, he said, such as incidents of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia on campus.

“We still have students who have negative experiences in their residence halls, in their classrooms,” he said. “We have students who feel like it’s not safe for them to come out depending on the communities that they’re in, so all of that still does exist here.”

Marciano said he hopes to strengthen relationships with leaders of different campus offices and organizations while educating them on
LGBT community issues.

Carmen Phelps, another candidate who currently serves as an associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Toledo in Ohio, said she was inspired to apply for the position because of her interest in social justice for LGBT communities.

If she gets the job, Phelps said, she hopes to expand on the University’s existing programs to serve a wider variety of needs in the LGBT
community.

“I’m really impressed by what I’ve seen so far in terms of the programs that are offered through the Office for Equity and Diversity and the GLBTA Office,” she said.

Phelps said she’d want to create stronger relationships between the GLBTA Programs Office and faculty members and researchers across campus in areas where LGBT advocates are lacking. She said she’s also interested in reaching out to the Twin Cities community.

Candidate Stef Wilenchek, assistant director of gender and sexual orientation initiatives at Hamline University’s diversity center, declined to be interviewed for this story.

The QSCC and the Programs Office are closely related, QSCC officer Brittany Bastian said.

“The GLBTA office is one of our closest allies,” she said.

The QSCC has been introduced to all of the candidates and is keeping tabs on them, Bastian said.

The search is important to the QSCC and to all queer students on campus, she said, because the director acts as a representative for them.

No matter who becomes the director, Bastian said, the QSCC wants to create awareness and a safe space across the University for all people who identify as queer.

“I think ultimately the goal of both of the organizations is to make sure that we are getting heard,” she said.