Video by: Stephanie Graham
Marquette’s Gender and Sexuality Center will celebrate its opening on September 11, featuring remarks by University President, the Rev. Scott Pilarz and the center’s director, Susannah Bartlow. It will also be open for all students to use.
The center is a product of the Gender Resource Task Force, headed by university Provost John Pauly. The center has been in development since 2008, when the idea was brought to Pauly by faculty members during his first semester as provost.
The mission statement of the center explains its purpose in providing dialogue, empowerment and education on gender, sex and sexuality. Bartlow said the mission statement’s meaning is up to interpretation.
Bartlow sees a significant part of her job as working with the Marquette community to give it what it wants to see out of the center. She hopes the center will be a place of discussion and support for every type of student.
Bartlow said the center’s staff believes it will pull the various events that are happening around campus together for the LGBTQ community and provide a centralized place where students can come together to learn about and celebrate diversity.
“People are really looking for someone to help pull together all the different things that are already happening,” Bartlow said. “One thing people have said they wanted is a bridge space, someone to help coordinate and kind of pull things together. So my job is to get to know what those things are and build partnerships so I can do that effectively.”
After working with various task forces and with the support of both former and current university presidents, Pauly watched the center become the place it is today.
“People are very excited about this,” Pauly said. “This is an important moment for Marquette.”
Pauly added that the center could provide solutions to many of the problems the Gender Resource Task Force faced.
“When the task force was doing its work they said we need to find more direct ways to deal with issues such as sexual violence,” Pauly said. “We need to find ways to affirm and support LGBTQ students (on) issues of identity and to pay attention to climate issues as those students and faculty experience them. And then just in general to see if we can put more energy into the study of gender and sexuality as a topic.”
Ed de St. Aubin, a Marquette associate professor of psychology, has been working with the center since its conception and said he thinks the center will play a crucial role in the development of a more inclusive environment at Marquette.
“What they need today may not be the same as what they’ll need 12 years from now,” de St. Aubin said.
Bartlow, de St. Aubin and Pauly all say support for the center is high and that they’ve met very little resistance along the way.
De St. Aubin said it was not an easy task trying to open the center on a Jesuit campus, but he was impressed by the administration’s readiness for this change.