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Mac Stricklen, Associate Director of Residential Housing, facilitates the conversation during the LGBTA Town Hall meeting in Baker University Center. The meeting was held Monday to discuss ways to improve the program, specifically appointing a new director. (Julia Moss | Staff Photographer)

LGBTA community seeks new leader with updated duties

Approximately 20 students, faculty and community members gathered Monday evening to discuss the duties the position of future director of the LGBT Center would entail.

Susanne Dietzel, interim director of the LGBT Center and director of the Women’s Center, and Max Strickland, assistant director of Residential Housing, monitored the meeting, which took place in the Multicultural Center.

“I thought it would be good, as a community, for us to take stock and see where we are,” Dietzel said. “We need input and impact; this is someone who will be working with members of the community as well as helping to make Ohio University a place of inclusion.”

The center’s director’s seat has been vacant since Aug. 17, when former director Mickey Hart stepped down.

Some who attended the meeting voiced concerns about directors in the past not working enough with student organizations in the LGBTA community.

“Directors have said, ‘I don’t want to be an advisor to these specific groups,’ but many of these groups don’t see the LGBT Center as an ally,” said Liam Pal, the LGBT commissioner on Student Senate. “The director does not necessarily have to be an adviser, but definitely should be more present.”

Others at the meeting spoke up with worries that the director might spread himself or herself too thin or favor some groups. Interim Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones offered a solution.

“There is one director and a lot of student organizations,” she said. “Perhaps staff of the center could help mentor different organizations or different people could get involved in helping students.”

Though the group acknowledged that the director cannot deal with every issue the community would like solved, Megan Villegas, a graduate student in the LGBT Center, said that simply choosing a candidate who shares the group’s ideals is important.

“I feel just asking that someone feel as strongly about these issues as we do is important,” she said. “We need a director to meet our needs and a director who knows how to bring more people so we can better meet our needs.”

Aside from talking strictly about the upcoming director, the group voiced hopes for the center in way of outreach to the community and regional campuses and greater access to safe therapy for LGBTA students. Students also expressed a desire to have a voice in actually choosing a director and making sure the new director stays excited about the center.

“This community is so special,” Pal said. “We truly need a Greek god or goddess to take the position.”

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