After a summer of organization, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s new Commission on the Status of Gender and Sexual Identity is starting to build momentum.
The commission — one of three diversity and inclusion leadership groups called for in Chancellor Ronnie Green’s State of the University address in January — has selected leaders and nearly solidified its membership. The group is also aligning with the other two commissions — Status of People of Color and Status of Women — and working directly with Marco Barker, the university’s first vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion.
“The creation of the commission by Chancellor Green was a huge step for the university,” said Corrie Svehla, commission chair and a manager of special events and projects for the university. “Backing by university administration has allowed us to generate momentum that we were unable to realize previously. Now, we are planning events and concentrating on issues campuswide.”
The commission’s first event is a “This is Husker Pride” mixer, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at The Mill on Nebraska Innovation Campus. The meet and greet is open to graduate students, faculty and staff.
The mission of the commission is to enhance the status of all LGBTQA+ identified people at the university. The commission works directly with the chancellor and his leadership team to resolve relative initiatives that impact students, faculty and staff.
Commission for the current academic year include:
Continue to develop and update the commission membership roster.
Create resources/contacts for individuals who want to know more about the LGBTQA+ community on campus.
Identify issues that specifically impact faculty and staff, audiences that have not historically had a lot of representation on campus. This includes possibly reforming an inactive employee resource group.
Oversee the selection of honorees for the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community.
Work with alumni to create an LGBTQA+ group that will have direct involvement on campus.
Increase LGBTQA+ events on campus. Initial plans including inviting more speakers and assisting with history month activities in October.
Align with the university’s LGBTQA+ Resource Center.
“Our main goal is to build community among all LGBTQA+ people on campus,” Svehla said. “We also plan to work directly with Marco and the other commissions to increase inclusivity, acceptance and understanding across the entire university.”
Pat Tetreault, director of the LGBTQA+ Resource Center, is assigning Svehla with leadership of the commission. Other members — which represent faculty, staff and student audiences — include: John Andrews, Katherine Burger, Michael Bergland-Riese, Emily Cheramie, Gwendolyn Grummert, Nicholas Harp, Michael Herman, Natalie Holt, Will Jackson. Larry James, Colleen Kadleck, Emily Kazyak, Gary Kebbel, Justin Lewis, J.D. McCown, Kai Meacham, Matthew Papa, Jen Skidmore, Sage Volk and Scott Winrow.