PULLMAN, Wash. – The Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center (GIESORC) is celebrating 20 years as a valuable resource and advocate for the Washington State University LGBT community.
GIESORC was the first LGBT resource center at any college or university in Washington.
“Other colleges and universities eventually opened similar centers on their campuses,” said Heidi Stanton-Schnebly, director of GIESORC. “But for many years we remained the only center to have full-time staff.”
Services aid retention
The first annual event, in 1998, was Lavender Graduation, scheduled for April 22 this year. It celebrates the personal and academic achievements of LGBT students and their allies.
Additionally, GIESORC supports Pride Week in October as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the history and progress of the LGBT community.
The newest initiatives focus on programs to support and advance student retention and academic success. These include a mentoring program that pairs WSU alumni and students based upon a field of study or area of personal interest or challenge.
A peer-to-peer mentoring program connects incoming students to GIESORC and the LGBT community during Week of Welcome.
“GIESORC is a place for students to come and be heard and valued for who they are regardless of how they identify,” Stanton-Schnebly said. “We focus on community and challenging students to maximize their potential while honoring the stories that each individual carries within.”
Begun in 1994
GIESORC was established in 1994 after a proposal for the creation of a gay, lesbian, bisexual program was put forth by faculty, staff and student advocates. The proposal gained the support of Ernestine Madison, vice provost for human relations and resources, and WSU President Sam Smith.
In June 1995, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Allies (GLBA) Center opened in the CUB. It has since been renamed GIESORC.
Its creation was vital to helping the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Student Association become recognized as an Associated Students of WSU committee.
GIESORC’s first coordinator was Bobbi Bonace, followed in 1996 by Tori Byington, now an IT consultant in WSU Information Services. In 1997, Melynda Huskey, WSU’s current dean of students, was hired as the first full-time director. Stanton-Schnebly became director in 2005.
Last summer Campus Pride – a national nonprofit organization dedicated to making colleges and universities safer, more inclusive places for LGBT students – ranked WSU as a Top 25 LGBT Friendly University. In 2012 WSU made the Top 100 list. GIESORC was recognized in 2009 with a Rainbow Award from the Pride Foundation.
“I am proud of the work we have done as a campus and community to address the needs and concerns of our LGBT students,” said Stanton Schnebly. “These honors really speak to what we have accomplished over the years and our excitement about continuing this work into the future.”
Heidi Stanton Schnebly, WSU Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Resource Center, firstname.lastname@example.org, 509-335-8841
Matthew Jeffries, WSU Residential Education Director, email@example.com, 509-335-8925