LGBTQ+ Center Provides Remote Support

Stephen Francis

Despite campus being closed due to the pandemic, ’s + Center is determined to continue providing support and activities for students. 

The LGBTQ+ Center is focusing on teamwork, says Ken Ditlevson, the center’s director. One aspect it is focusing on is team meetings, which are held weekly on Google Hangouts.

The team is brainstorming ideas to engage with people who usually frequent the center. Some ideas they have come up with so far are Netflix parties, mental health posts through social media and YouTube, “crafternoons” and group chats.  

The LGBTQ+ Center is a part of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, and it shares ideas on a Google sheet with schools across the country. 

“We’re really looking into stuff to support our community,” Ditlevson says. “We’re not letting this stop us from moving forward.”

In addition to its new programming, the center is continuing its social groups, QTPOC and Q’ommunity, on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. via Google Hangout. The groups will be combined for the rest of the semester, and any interested students should email Jasmine Benson-Williams, the center’s graduate assistant. 

“Isolation for health reasons is a good thing now, but socially, we really need to connect,” Ditlevson says. “I think when there is uncertainty, we can be stronger when we’re connected.”

Every Wednesday, Katie Mattise, the assistant director of the LGBTQ+ Center, holds a Mario Kart Switch competition. Students can join with a code, which is available on the center’s email newsletter and social media platforms. 

“This is one way people can take their minds off of things and have a little fun,” Mattise says. 

The LGBTQ+ Center’s staff is available through phone and email. Students can call the center at 330-672-8580 to leave a voicemail, and a staff member will get back to them Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Ditlevson and Mattise are also open to setting up Skype calls with students to provide support. 

“We want people to know even though our physical space is closed, we’re still here for them,” Mattise says. 

An additional concern with the queer community is that some LGBTQ+ students may have moved home to places that are not supportive of LGBTQ+ people, places where they might not be out or comfortable, Mattise says.  

Faculty and staff are worried about how students are handling everything, Mattise says. They are concerned about students’ mental health, emotional well-being and physical well-being. 

“A lot of people I’ve connected with really care about students and really care about the Kent State community as a whole,” Mattise says. 

Emergency funds are available for students who need them. The LGBTQ+ Center’s Emergency Fund is available to students who reach out. The center can give students up to $500 per academic year. Kent State also created a university-wide emergency fund, Mattise says. The Pay It Flash Forward Emergency Fund has raised almost $16,000 so far.

In addition to the LGBTQ+ Center, there are other resources available to students, such as PFLAG, The Trevor Project and Trans Lifeline. Students can call these organizations to talk to someone who is knowledgeable about the LGBTQ+ community. 

“This time can be really scary, uncertain and worrying,” Mattise says. “We will get through this. It might be tough, but we’re here for each other.”

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