New name means more inclusion for LGBTQIA+ Student Success Center

Mary Pautsch

The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success is rebranding themselves to better reflect their services and who they serve.

“The Center” for short, students are given a new name that better recognizes their identities while also being easier to roll off the tongue.

Formerly known as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Student Services (LGBTSS), The Center made the official name change over the summer.

Clare Lemke, assistant director of The Center, said that the change has been an ongoing conversation for some time. The Center has gone through many changes throughout its history, slowly making it more inclusive to various members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“This has really been a conversation that’s been going on for really years, longer than I’ve been here, really probably about the last 10 years,” Lemke said. 

The office was created in 1992, under the name Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Student Services. Transgender was added to the name years later, to address a wider array of LGBTQIA+ individuals who used the center.

Now with their longer acronym, The Center hopes to increase their inclusiveness even further. Lemke said that the previous name did not completely reflect the identities of the students they were serving.

“We knew we needed a name that spoke to a broader range of identities rather than LGBT,” she said. “So we’re seeing students who identify in many different ways that don’t fall under that abbreviation.”

LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual/Agender with the plus sign signifying any identity not represented by a letter. This may include pansexual, non-binary, genderqueer or other sexualities and genders.

“The longer acronym and language in our name mirrors the language that our students are using better,” Lemke said.

The Center also wanted a new name that made a bolder statement on what they do. The office took into consideration input given by other groups on campus, and what other similar centers are named at colleges nationwide.

This research eventually lead to their current official name.

“You have student success right in the name,” said Lemke. “So, our mission as an office is to develop personal and academic success, community and leadership for LGBTQIA+ students and their allies.”

The office is also excited to have a new, simpler way to address themselves. “The Center” is how students have nicknamed the office in the past, so Lemke and other professionals rolled with it.

“We want to be student-focused,” Lemke said. “So you’ll see that on some of the branding we’ll have […] rather than the whole name.”

According to Lemke, students have been giving positive feedback to the name change. She hopes that as others get used to the change, they begin to use the name comfortably so those in the community know who they are and what they stand for.

“Some of the things I’ve heard that have been positive are people like the longer abbreviation, I think people like the simplicity of calling it The Center,” Lemke said. “When I tell people our new name they’re like, ‘Oh, nice!'”

The Center wants to also continue to serve students in ways they feel comfortable, whether that be in or out of their space in the Dean of Students Office.

They also are working on more community building, and are looking for volunteers. To learn more about The Center, students can go to their website or stop in the Student Services building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.