Op-ed: Northeastern shows little support for the LGBTQ+ Community

People+celebrate+Pride+at+Boston+Pop-up+Pride+June+12.+During+Pride+month%2C+Northeastern+tweeted+its+support+about+the+LGBQ%2B+community.+

Marta Hill

People celebrate Pride at Boston Pop-up Pride June 12. During Pride month, Northeastern tweeted its support about the LGBQ+ community.

Ezra Statsky-Frank, contributor

While Northeastern boasts an inclusive environment on campus, institutional support for the LGBTQ+ community is minimal at best. To provide an example, June, Pride month, is a time for members of the LGBTQ+ community to honor those who have fought to give the rights we have today, celebrate who we are and organize for the future. My organization, NUPride, marked this month by holding events, attending parades and using the opportunity to reach out to a wider audience. This was also a time where non-LGBTQ+ organizations reached out to my organization, asking for collaborations and resources, which we happily provided. However, Northeastern didn’t seem to be one of those helpful organizations, before, during and after Pride month.

Across all social media platforms, Northeastern’s main accounts only  posted twice about Pride month. In one of the tweets Northeastern posted, there are multiple inaccuracies. For instance, the LGBTQ+ resource center has been primarily based in Curry Center room 101 for the past year, not in room 328 like the tweeted resource says. It also lists several student organizations which are inactive, as can be seen on the resource center’s website. Northeastern frequently publicizes many other cultural celebrations by sending out campus wide emails, but in at least the past year, there’s been no official communication on respect for LGBTQ+ rights. All of this reflects the lack of consistent support Northeastern has for its LGBTQ+ students.

The problem is that, although the LGBTQ+ community has a resource center, our university as a whole is doing very little directly to show their support, and, as in any marginalized community, doing little can be just as harmful. At a community level, Northeastern gave the resource center only one room and that did not take place until Thrive moved out. At an individual level, there are few resources outside of a  name-change form that are freely offered to students outside the resource center. Those same resources are locked behind a system so byzantine that it often requires the assistance of multiple staff members. To make matters worse, staff were not even present in the center from June of 2020 to August of 2021. Organization-wise, only a handful of LGBTQ+ clubs have been recognized by the Center for Student Involvement, leaving the resource center to support all the other affinity groups themselves.

Northeastern must do more. This includes using mass emails to say definitively “we support the rights of our LGBTQ+ students, and will stand up for them against those who wish to take their rights away.” While the LGBTQ+ resource center can send out its own emails, the center reaches far fewer people than the emails Northeastern sends out to the community. A letter from President Joseph E. Aoun to the nearly 300,000 Northeastern faculty, alumni, students and staff stating that Northeastern supports its LGBTQ+ community would at least indicate that Northeastern has our backs on some level and is willing to touch base on these topics.

When looking at neighboring universities such as Boston University, there is a large disparity. To start, in June, during Pride month, the Boston University administration posted dozens of stories and resources across their social media accounts, ranging from list of BU resources and events for their LGBTQ+ community, a list of LGBTQ+ faculty and staff and even  month-long series on some of those staff members’ life stories. The university also posted a guide on BU’s website, which provides a condensed rundown of what’s offered on campus. Considering the comparable number of undergraduate students between  Northeastern and BU, this doesn’t feel like it’s the result of a lack of need. Northeastern itself has many more LGBTQ+ organizations and affinity groups than BU does, from the general (NUPride), to highly specific (Jewish Queers of Northeastern University. Rather, it feels like a lack of initiative from administration and a lack of support reminiscent of the year-long period with no staff in the resource center.

Northeastern needs to help the resource center and the various student organizations to shine a light on our community, not only for one month of the year but for every month, every year. That could be Aoun sending out a letter to the 300,000 people in Northeastern’s network, accurately advertising resources offered to the LGBTQ+ community on campus, or even just making a few more posts about our community on the main social media accounts. All these ideas can’t be done by the resource center and student organizations to the same extent a university with a billion-dollar endowment can. I hope the administration will listen to some of the suggestions so that our community can celebrate our identities knowing Northeastern has our back.

Ezra Statsky-Frank is a fourth year majoring in computer science and finance. They can be reached at [email protected]