By Rachel-Valenzuela-Ours January 15, 2016
In June 2015, CIIS hosted its first cohort of Arcus fellows at an intensive two-day workshop that helped prepare fellows for their projects. The Arcus fellows were accompanied to San Francisco by a home campus mentor. Two of CIIS’ Human Sexuality PhD students, JS Very and Stefan Lucke, are also serving as mentors to these students and will be helping with the evaluation of each student’s project.
Romeo Jackson, a senior at Northern Illinois University, will expand and improve health services for medically transitioning people on his campus.
Texas A&M University junior Yael Lara will collaborate with her university to create gender-inclusive housing options.
La’ Nyia Odoms, a fourth-year student at Meharry Medical College, will organize safe-zone trainings for medical and dental students.
Spelman College junior Lexus Phillips will establish a network between LGBTQ students of the Atlanta University Center, other Atlanta colleges and universities, and LGBTQ advocacy organizations in the Atlanta area.
Leadership consultant Sam Offer guided Jackson, Lara, Odoms, and Phillips through community-building exercises; facilitated dialogue on the intersections of ethnicity, class, and gender; and helped fellows to consider the interplay of privilege and oppression in their communities.
From this foundation, the fellows planned strategies to address pushback they may face as their projects take shape. Jackson, Lara, Odoms, and Phillips also attended CIIS’ 2015 Expanding the Circle conference, which aims to advance LGBTQ Initiatives in higher education, held June 24 through 26.
Both the conference and workshop allowed Arcus fellows to begin building the supportive community that will sustain their work in the coming months. Everyone who met the fellows during their visit to CIIS was impressed by their commitment to the advancement of LGBTQ rights and their passion for cross-coalition movement building. Faculty, staff, and students look forward to welcoming them back next June along with a cohort of six new Arcus fellows.
Rachel Valenzuela-Ours is Senior Grant Writer at CIIS.