MU’s LGBTQ Resource Center makes changes to operations during pandemic

The LGBTQ Resource Center is still open for business; however, they have changed their operations to protect students during the pandemic.

For LGBTQ+ students at MU, the LGBTQ Resource Center can be a safe space with a variety of different fucntions. It was, and still is, a place for these students to be themselves with no judgement or fear, and a place to meet new people. Due to current COVID-19 safety guidelines, the center had to change their in-person operations, but it is still working to keep reaching out under these strange circumstances. The center describes itself on its website as a “welcoming and inclusive environment” for LGBTQ+ students. Its main goal is to strengthen the student community within MU, as well as provide resources for students in need. The question remained on how the center would be able to reach out to students during a pandemic. With social distancing being the new norm, it is much harder for these students to congregate within a physical setting. Jude Tubbs, MU junior and staff member of OASIS, MU’s Trans and Non-Binary Student Organization, reinforced the concerns over this lack of in-person communication. “Touch starvation is something that a lot of LGBT people deal with,” Tubbs said. “Queer people can very often just go long stretches of time without physically connecting with people, which can be really damaging.” The pandemic has caused the physical resource center on campus to gain several restrictions, including a strict capacity limit along with shorter hours during the week. In order to compromise with these new rules, the resource center has created an online server through the chat site Discord in order to provide online resources to students in need. “We made a Discord for the LGBT resource center over the summer,” Tubbs said. “That has been really instrumental for continuing to build the community, and to make sure new students know that there is a space for [them] on campus, even if it can’t be a physical space.” Although the online operations do have their downsides in terms of a lack of a physical space, there are some upsides. Sam Martin, current MU student and president of OASIS, talks about how convenient and purposeful the Discord server is. “Now that we’ve all moved to Discord, everyone is in the same place and easy to get a hold of, which is actually really helpful,” Martin said. “It’s been a really great way to compartmentalize different conversations and have multiple conversations going on at once, and different sections that people can opt in and out of participating in.”
Even though physical connections are limited, there are still alternative ways to make these connections. Martin expands on this idea of connections further by describing its importance within the LGBTQ+ community.
“Make connections as quickly as you can and foster and maintain them,” Martin said. “Make sure that you are regularly reaching out, make sure that you have a set of people that you know you can trust, especially if you are in a space where you are back home, and you are not able to be as open about yourself as you want.” Although the pandemic is holding back the physical space, this resource center is using the internet to its advantage. This resource center doesn’t stop reaching out to students in need for anything.

Edited by Sophie Stephens | sstephens@themaneater.com

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