Students rally for Gender and Sexuality Center ahead of budget proposal


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Quinn Kirby (white jacket), freshman, of grand rapids, march's with members of the community and students to Warriner Hall on the campus of Central Michigan University, Michigan, on Thursday, March 30. "I think it's bad ass that people came out in the freezing rain to participate today," said Kirby. "I, personally, won't feel like a whole person if I didn't come."

There were no classes on March 30, but students congregated on campus to support the creation of a Gender and Sexuality Center at Central Michigan University.

Students gathered between Anspach and Pearce Halls before marching to Warriner Hall. Harrison sophomore Olivia Cyman, a member of the progressive organization group Central Michigan Action, said signatures collected supporting the center would be given to University President George Ross in a private meeting.

Ross will release his proposed 2017-18 fiscal year budget on April 1, Cyman said. Thursday's rally provided students a chance to sign the petition, give them a platform to share stories and show the administration the widespread student demand for the center before a decision is released.

The center would absorb the Office of LGBTQ Services on campus and include additional gender programming and services.

A town hall discussing the Gender and Sexuality Center took place on March 15 in the Charles V. Park Library Auditorium. Waterford senior and organizer Autumn Gairaud said at the town hall she would CMU to make a commitment for the center by April 1.

Taleen Markarian | Freelance Photographer | Central Michigan Life

Gio Roses, 20, sophomore, of Saginaw, shares personal stories of why there should be a Gender Sexuality Center, in Warrnier Hall, Central Michigan University, Michigan, on Thursday, March 30.  "Honestly, this is one of the top things to me," Roses said. "I know first hand what can happen to you and in your mind if you don't have a place to go."

CMU students have pushed for a Gender and Sexuality Center for nearly 30 years. Student Government Association has passed several pieces of legislation supporting the creation of a center in recent years, but it was never implemented.

Thursday's rally was the last call for signatures supporting the center, Cyman said. Members of CM Action gathered signatures for the center since a resolution to create it was passed by SGA in January.

Cyman said the petition has an estimated 2,500 signatures currently.

"I was really satisfied with the turnout today. We had a great number of people to occupy the space and make a powerful statement,” Cyman said.

Taleen Markarian | Freelance Photographer | Central Michigan Life

Evan Wittenbach, 21, junior, of Racford, tells personal stories of why there should be a Gender Sexuality Center, in Warrnier Hall, Central Michigan University, Michigan, on Thursday, March 30. "We would like to get 2400 signatures on the petition to get funding for GSC (Gender Sexuality Center)," Wittenbach said.

Cyman added that even if the Gender and Sexuality Center is not funded, CM Action will continue to organize actions like the march to advocate for student issues.

“If that means protesting the administration’s decision and showing them how many students they’ve let down by not making their safety a priority, then that is what that means,” Cyman said.

Southfield junior Gabrielle Patmon said this was her first time attending any kind of Gender and Sexuality Center action after discovering the event on Twitter. She said she felt very welcome and it was good to support the cause.

“I saw that a lot of my friends were going so I wanted to see what it was about,” Patmon said. “I have always believed that we should have equal rights and I think a Gender and Sexuality Center would be beneficial because it would be a safe place for people to discover who they are.”

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