Kirsten O'Brien/The AS Review
What’s in a name? For the Associated Students Queer Resource Center, formally known as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance, there is quite a bit indeed.
The office is located on the fifth floor of the Viking Union in room 515 and is a resource for students of all genders, gender identities and sexual orientations. Ben Crowther, QRC program coordinator, said that although the office still provides all of the same services, the new name more accurately reflects whom the office serves. Crowther said that the traditional acronym, LGBTA, frequently leaves out other identities.
“You could basically include every letter of the alphabet if you wanted to include all identities, and obviously that’s not practical,” Crowther said. “We can’t be the A through Z office, so ‘queer’ is this term that is being reclaimed as an all-inclusive umbrella term.”
The name change was enacted this year after the office went through the Tactical Assessment Program, a program the AS uses to evaluate the effectiveness of its programming. Crowther said that as part of the process, the QRC staff suggested a number of changes they wanted to make, including the name change.
“We had the opportunity this year, and we took it,” Crowther said.
Jordan Deal, assistant coordinator of the QRC, explained that in the past, the word “queer” was frequently used as a slur. He said that for some people, especially those from an older generation, the word can have far more negative connotations than positive ones.
However, by making “queer” a part of the office’s name, Deal hopes that people will begin to see the word in a positive light.
“We hope that by that being our office name, and that we can talk about that explicitly at all of our programs and explain why our name is different and help open up that conversation, then we can hopefully do more to make that word more mainstream and redefine what it means to the greater population,” he said.
Deal said the name change was also a result of the more frequent use of the word by professors and other universities. For example, Deal said that professors have begun to change the names of their classes from “LGBT history” to “Queer history.” In addition, Deal said that other universities such as Portland State University in Portland, Ore., have started adopting queer resource centers.
“It’s just the idea that [the word ‘queer’] is necessarily more inclusive than any sort of acronym could be,” he said.
Deal said that another problem with the office’s former name is that many of the students who used the resources in the office didn’t identify as lesbian, gay or transgender. Deal also said the word “gay” is frequently associated with homosexual white men, which excludes the identities of many other people. Deal said that using the word “queer” bridges the gap between many genders, gender identities and sexual orientations.
“It’s really to create solidarity within the groups so we’re not separated by having a [transgender] movement and a gay movement and a lesbian movement,” he said. “It’s just a far more inclusive term.”