MRC Searches for New LGBTQ Coordinator

Elizabeth Dobbins, News Editor

The Multicultural Resource Center is in the midst of a nearly semester-long search for a new LGBTQ Community Coordinator after the previous coordinator, Danielle Stevens, left the position at the end of last semester. Alison Williams, director of the MRC, said the candidate search committee plans to announce the new LGBTQ Coordinator by the last day of classes, although the unpredictable nature of candidate searches may push this date back.

“You can’t always predict how [candidate searches] go, so we have a timeline that’s our goal, but people can drop out of the search, people can turn down your offer, there’s some negotiations that sometimes happen,” Williams said.

The job posting describes community coordinators as “campus leader[s] on LGBTQ issues” and a link between the Director of the MRC, students and other local communities. According to Williams, campus coordinators must be able to manage a diverse range of duties, including crisis management, programming and providing support for student groups.

Williams said she hopes that the new coordinator will have many of these skills, particularly those which complement the skill sets of current community coordinators.

“No one has everything you want, so you try to set some priorities,” Williams said. “But you also recognize that when we look for somebody in these positions we [not] only look for somebody that has a wide range of experiences and skills, but we also need to balance out the skills of whoever is the coordinator at the time.”

College senior Gabriel Moore is one of about 11 students, faculty and staff on the candidate search committee. He believes the new community coordinator should promote both student interests and accessibility.

“I think it’s important for any CC to put student needs first,” Moore said in an email to the Review. “And by that, I mean that the CC comes into the community and asks what their needs are instead of imposing programming that doesn’t align with student desires. Also, accessibility is extremely important. … With that in mind, any CC needs to understand how to develop events, hangout sessions and programs that address the intersectionalities of queerness and other identities such as race, ethnicity, dis/ability, etc. and be supportive of people with different identities.”

Moore, who has also been involved in organizing, said that he worked with the previous coordinator, Stevens, to plan Queers and Allies of Faith, Coming Out Week and QueerFest last semester. Through these experiences he built a close connection with Stevens and views them as a role model for future coordinators.

“Their departure made me very sad, and led to a hole within the structure of the MRC,” Moore said in an email to the Review. “While no person could fit the role as Danielle [Stevens] did in their unique way, I wanted to be involved to ensure that the new CC met the standard, compassion and level of student support that Danielle exhibited.”

This Winter Term, after Stevens left their position, students sent a letter to the MRC expressing concern regarding Stevens’ treatment and the dynamic in the MRC last semester.

“We want the MRC to sign this letter and acknowledge their responsibility for Danielle Stevens’ resignation and that they are responsible by consistently refusing to acknowledge Danielle Stevens and their work, only interacting with them when there were logistical reasons for doing so, while accusing them of intimidation and ‘playing oppression Olympics,’ and refusing to consider Danielle’s health needs,” wrote students in a preface to this letter on Facebook.

According to Williams, students and members of the MRC met for a mediation and came to a resolution. The students involved in writing the letter declined to comment.

Since the LGBTQ coordinator position has been vacant, programming and other duties of the coordinator are being split between members of the MRC staff.

Williams said the MRC has been very intentional in its efforts to cover for the vacant LGBTQ coordinator position. Earlier this semester, MRC staff members met with several campus groups, including Zami, Trans at Oberlin, Transgender Participation Advisory Committee and the Edmonia Lewis Center, in an effort to continue to communicate with and provide support for these communities.

“Our coordinators often support student groups, so if a student group all of a sudden doesn’t have their go-to person in the MRC, we just wanted them to know they could come to anybody in the MRC and get help with whatever they needed,” Williams said.

Jan Cooper, the John C. Reid associate professor of Rhetoric & Composition and English, is also a member of the search committee and has been on the TPAC board. Although she was on leave last semester, she rejoined TPAC this spring. Africana Community Coordinator Dio Aldridge filled in as the LGBTQ coordinator on the board. Cooper said, so far, this arrangement has been successful.

“As far as I could see, we didn’t miss a beat in the work of that committee,” Cooper said. “It’s also because … the students on the committee stepped up and took a lot of responsibility too.”