LGBTQ+ Resource Center hires new assistant director for spring

Mentley+began+working+during+spring+semester%2C+but+was+hired+in+December.+

Photo by Claire Gallagher

Mentley began working during spring semester, but was hired in December.

Emma Mentley was hired in December as assistant director in the Office of Engagement and Inclusion, filling a gap created last summer by the departure of the previous position-holder, Elizabeth Stigler.

Her primary responsibilities are to help run the LGBTQ+ Resource center and provide support and education to the Marquette community. 

Though she was hired in December, Mentley said she truly began working at the start of the spring 2020 semester. 

Mentley studied student affairs at Eastern Michigan University, originally motivated by her work as a resident assistant working on education outside the classroom. She also added that she was really active in her sorority.

The hiring process involved both students and faculty. Mentley participated in a video interview with the search committee as well as in an all-day, on-campus interview during which she engaged with several students, faculty and staff.

Zelda Kieser, a program assistant in the LGBTQ+ Resource Center and a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she and several other students were involved in the interview process, providing feedback to the rest of the committee.

Kieser said she is really excited to have a director again because last semester the center was running a little bit of a “skeleton crew.”

Kieser is one of the two program assistants at the center. The center has a director, graduate assistant and two program assistants. Responsibilities include making posters and showing up to events, Kieser said.

Demetria Anderson, director of the Office of Engagement and Inclusion, led the hiring process. Anderson said the search was nationwide, aiming to attract the best person for the role.

Anderson also said that the search committee included members of the Division of Student Affairs.

“Students’ participation in this process is important as the position interfaces with students and has the fundamental responsibility to them,” Anderson said.

Danielle Del Conte, a junior in the College of Engineering and president of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, said that a lack of education among faculty surrounding LGBTQ+ issues has led to some negative interactions between members of the LGBTQ+ community and their professors.

“A big component of the assistant director position is educating staff and faculty on campus that are not super educated on LGBTQ issues that may be perpetuating homophobia on a Jesuit campus,” Del Conte said. “Emma is supposed to be an advocate for the LGBTQ community on campus if students are facing any sort of discrimination. Having that role gone meant that a lot of students were having to advocate for themselves in a hierarchy that’s rigged against them.”

Kieser only works 10 hours a week, and Jennifer Perdomo, a graduate assistant and a graduate student in the College of Health Sciences,  works 20 hours, so the center needed someone in the position of director.

“I feel like everything is going to be brought together now, and Emma seems wonderful,” Kieser said. “Part of what Emma does is act as a link to a lot of the people who work in the more administrative roles and being able to work with professors and departments and people in campus ministry.”

Mentley said she has experience working with members of the LGBTQ+ community and would like to continue doing so.

“I applied for this position specifically to work with LGBTQ student services because I have experience doing that,” she said. “I have a passion to serve students who have marginalized identities. I’ve done this at previous institutions where I’ve worked with students with gender and sexuality and romantic minority students.”

When working previously at Clark University in Dubuque, Iowa, Mentley said she learned a lot about getting to know individual students and assessing and meeting their needs.

“In addition to helping facilitate events, it’s really nice to have a presence in the space because a lot of queer communities tend to skew very young,” Kieser said. “It’s nice to have a mentor figure beyond just a graduate assistant, someone who people can come to if they have problems and to serve as an advocate.”

Del Conte said that Mentley has been communicating with a lot of students about what sort of challenges they face on campus and the spaces where they feel safe or unsafe in order to spread positive education and create more safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ community.

“Emma brings a wealth of knowledge and experience working with college students and has created and provided many successful programs and valuable trainings,” Anderson said. “We are truly fortunate and extremely excited to have her as a member of the OEI team and Marquette University family.”

As for her goals, Mentley said she is motivated but can’t quite identify specific goals until she gets to know the students, who she said seem wonderful.

“I’m excited to be here,” Mentley said. “I’m honored to be hired. I’m really motivated to help contribute to a culture of inclusion on campus.” 

This story was written by Shir Bloch. She can be reached at shir.bloch@marquette.edu.