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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Students visit LGBTQ+ center as part of on-going For the Culture Series

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion helps students explore the greater Cleveland area through cultural heritage.
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On Oct. 22, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion took 21 students off-campus to learn about LGBTQ+ history and culture in the second event of the For the Culture series.  

Courtney Robinson, associate director of cultural programming, inclusion and belonging, created the series to provide students with free opportunities to experience and learn about different cultures in the greater Cleveland area.  

“I wanted to create an activity or a space where students could go out and connect with their cultural history where the onus isn’t being placed on them to educate others,” Robinson said.  

For the month of October, the event series focused on LGBTQ+ history month. Robinson took students to Colors+ to learn about the non-profit LGBTQ+ community center before heading to Studio West 17, a walkable neighborhood aimed at inclusivity, to watch and eat at a drag brunch, a meal accompanied with drag performances by various drag queens and kings.  

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Shannon Scott-Mille, deputy director of Colors+, said the center provides a safe space for youth to be themselves and provides counseling for all ages in the LGBTQ+ community.  

“Our job as mental health counselors are not [to be there] because there’s something wrong with queer youth,” Scott-Miller said. “We’re here because there’s something wrong with the world that’s trying to raise queer youth and we need to help them be fierce against it.”  

Following the meal, students spoke with Ken Schneck, professor of education and editor of the Buckeye Flame, Ohio’s only source for LGBTQ+ news, about LGBTQ+ history in Ohio and LGBTQ+ activism. Students also spoke to Avery Ware, co-founder of Mx. Junteenth, about the celebration for queer, black individuals in June. 

Solé Hall-Hamilton, a senior English student, said they have never seen a program like this at Baldwin Wallace University and said she thinks it is especially important to give students the opportunity to experience Cleveland and learn about different cultures to build cultural competency. 

“Overall, I think it’s a really great opportunity to get more people who are queer o questioning to experience something within the community actively outside of BW,” Hall-Hamilton said. “BW is such a pocket, and everything that happens here feels like it’s only going to be here, so it’s important to start to learn where we can coexist after we graduate.” 

After the presentations concluded, students rode to Studio West 17 for drag brunch, where “different drag queens perform by lip synching as we eat delicious food,” Robinson said. The lunch was covered by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, allowing students to experience the trip at no cost.  

The event series began celebrating Hispanic Heritage month in September, taking students to the Clark Fulton neighborhood in Cleveland, a historic Hispanic community on the west side of Cleveland.  

Students were able to walk around and learn about the history of the area accompanied by Nicholas Mays, assistant professor of history, who grew up in the area before going to lunch at a local restaurant. Then, they went to a local community garden, BarrioBoy, and learned about its founding. 

“For the Culture” will continue the third Sunday of every month, celebrating different cultures across campus. Robinson said she hopes to keep the event free and provide transportation to allow for as many students as possible to attend.  

“I hope that students who are a part of these student organizations can come and feel that connectedness to culture without feeling the pressure of having to do the work,” Robinson said. “This is just a space for them to come and connect and almost feel like that sense of home that I think sometimes you’re missing when you’re on campus.” 

The next event will be held Nov. 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will focus on Native American Heritage Month, with more events continuing into the spring 2024 semester. 

For more information students should visit @bwcenterforinclusion on Instagram or follow the Center for Diversity and Inclusion on Jacket Connect.  

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