Stony Brook Matters
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At the LGBTQ* Center grand opening (left to right): Will Argenzio, Cheryl Chambers, Chris Tanaka, Elliot Tanha, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr, El Schneider, Lee Bitsoi and Sydney Gaglio
At the LGBTQ* Center grand opening (left to right): Will Argenzio, Cheryl Chambers, Chris Tanaka, Elliot Tanha, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr, El Schneider, Lee Bitsoi and Sydney Gaglio

Stony Brook University officially opened its brand new LGBTQ* Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Friday, March 2.

The center, located on the second floor of West Side Dining, is a 1,967 square-foot facility aimed to provide an open workspace for students, areas for private conversations, all-gender restrooms, and spaces and technologies that support collaborative learning.

“This day has been on my mind for 15 years,” said Chris Tanaka, Assistant Director of LGBTQ* Services, who was visibly moved by the emotion of the moment. “This is a space for people to explore who they are and find people who truly ‘get it.’”

The ribbon cutting coincides with the 36th anniversary of Wisconsin becoming the first U.S. state that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation.   

“At Stony Brook we aspire to treat all people with dignity and respect as we embrace diversity, equity and inclusion,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “We are constantly working to ensure that Stony Brook is accepting and respectful of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, talents and abilities.”

A wide array of dedicated individuals helped to make the center a reality, including Dallas Bauman, Assistant Vice President of Campus Residences; Richard Gatteau, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students; Cheryl Chambers, Associate Director for Multicultural Affairs; and the entire LGBTQ* Services team.

President Stanley also extended his personal appreciation and respect for the late Dr. Peter Baigent, Vice President for Student Affairs, for his foresight and vision for a more inclusive institution.

“This center comes from decades of blood, sweat and tears from our queer predecessors and my chosen family, and we have built this for future generations,” said Elliot Tanha ’18, Vice President of the Stony Brook Transgender Alliance.

The asterisk in the LGBTQ* Center’s title is important. The symbol is a way to make space for other identities and as a reminder of the diverse ways identity is expressed within the LGBTQ* communities.

“For so long, at least for me and the people that I know, we always felt like we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and that we needed to be patient and wait our turns,” said El Schneider, MSW major in the School of Social Welfare and a graduate intern with LGBTQ* Services. “Today, however, we are in the right place, this is the right time, and this is our home, and honestly I think you are just going to love this space.”  

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