Oct. 30, 2017

LGBTQ+ Student Services safe space program provides inclusive environments

LGBTQ+ Student Services have revitalized the Safe Space Program on Cleveland State University’s campus in Fall 2017.

LGBTQ+ Student Services provides resources, support and educational programming to promote personal growth and development of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students on the university campus.

One of the resources that LGBTQ+ Student Services provides is the Safe Space program. The Safe Space Program provides students of all sexual orientations and gender identities access to a safe space. These people are available to speak freely with students about anything, including their sexual orientation and gender identities, according to the program’s webpage on Cleveland State’s website.

Erica Goebel, LGBTQ+ Student Services graduate assistant, says that a couple of reasons led to the revitalization of the Safe Space Program in Fall 2017.

Goebel explained that during the past few years the services for LGBTQ+ moved from the Office of Multicultural Inclusion to the Student Affairs office, but it had no services, center or graduate assistant for a few years.

Last year, Student Affairs hired a graduate assistant who became involved with the Queer Student Alliance but offered only two individual Safe Space trainings in the spring of 2017. “There wasn’t a good understanding about what needed done and how to do it,” Goebel said, “and the staff member who supervised the GA was not very involved or able to give as much direction or support as the GA could have used. The Safe Space training that last year’s GA co-facilitated was an older version of the the Safe Space training, one of a few being used around campus.”

“The main version used previously was outdated, and included a ton of information that was hard for people to sift through to find the resources and information they needed,” Goebel continued. “Some of the outdated information, such as some definitions and explanations, was outdated enough to be offensive.”

Prompted by this fact, Goebel spent a lot of time making the new materials to be used for the Safe Space Program and consulted other universities to build the training and resource guide.

“My supervisor and I spent many hours double checking and rewording the training and resource guide to be supportive, affirming and easy to understand for people that are learning this content for the first time,” Goebel said.

Now, only a small amount of the Helping You Through Peer Education (HYPE) team has gone through the new Safe Space Program and with no continuity between the various people who conducted the training and its different versions, Goebel plans to keep a list of who has gone through the new training.

“There are many individuals committed to supporting and affirming LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty, I just don’t have a master list of them yet,” Goebel said. “I intend to keep a list of individuals who have gone through Safe Space training through LGBTQ+ Student Services who wish for me to share their name with students looking for other students, staff and faculty who are safe spaces.”

Another main piece of Goebel’s role as graduate assistant, alongside Emily Grady, the care manager at the university, was the development of the LGBTQ+ Center. The center is located in Main Classroom room 211, which was formerly the ROTC room.

“My goal is to provide a safe space for students in the LGBTQ+ community to come and hang out and get some resources on and off campus,” Goebel said.

Goebel holds the space much like another graduate assistant would handle the front desk in any other department. Goebel also said that LGBTQ+ Student Services had been looking for a space for years, after one option in Rhodes Tower fell through.

A flier encouraging LGBTQ+ individuals to commit suicide was posted in the Main Classroom on the same day that the center opened according to a memo sent to the students and faculty by President Ronald M. Berkman. (See related story on page x) In response, LGBTQ+ Student Services have placed a poster outside the center’s door reading, “Please help us keep this a safe space.”

The LGBTQ+ Student Services Center does not have a fixed schedule at this time, so a weekly schedule is posted on the door. The next event, in partnership with the Queer Student Alliance, is Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.


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