The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will hold three Wellness and Inclusion events in October, two of which are in honor of LGBT History Month.
The first event is the Wellness and Inclusion open house on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The open house is in three locations, including Counseling Services in SSC 118, the Disability Resource Center in DSC 103, and Health Services in DSC 102.
Each location will provide games, snacks, door prizes, a costume contest, and photo opportunities. The Disability Resource Center will also offer face painting.
All three locations have undergone renovations in the last two years, so an open house is a good opportunity to get people to see the changes, as well as increase awareness about the services they provide.
“As much as we try, we know some students don’t even know these departments exist,” said Sharon Downs, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. “That’s not okay. We want to be there for every student.”
Students can have their picture taken with faculty and staff dressed as characters from “The Wizard of Oz.” Those who take pictures in each location will be eligible to enter a drawing for a prize. This allows students to get equipped with each location and meet staff members.
Another event in place to foster student success is the “Building Inclusion Together: Panel Discussion” in honor of LGBT History Month on Oct. 27, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m in the Donaghey Student Center Leadership Lounge.
Speakers include Dr. Melvin Beavers, the inaugural Chancellor’s Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Dr. Joyce Carter, professor and chair of the UA Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing; Dr. Christina Drale, chancellor; and Dr. Greg Robinson, associate professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Health Professions.
Speakers will get the chance to tell their stories and experiences, and audience members will get to ask questions and generate conversation about what allies can do better to make LGBT students on campus feel more welcome.
The celebration of LGBT History Month builds community, raises awareness, and represents those who paved the way for today’s LGBTQ+ community. Although the community has come a long way, many still struggle with acceptance and safety on a daily basis. That’s why SafeZone has taken on a project called the Rainbow Center, which will have its grand opening on Oct. 27, from 12:30 to 2 p.m in Dickinson Hall room 104.
SafeZone wanted to have a space specifically for LGBTQ+ students to hang out with one another and unwind between classes. Downs hopes it becomes a place where they feel safe and respected.
“There’s a lot of data that shows that LGBT students are at high risk for dropping out because they don’t feel like they belong,” Downs said. “I think this can address some of that, especially for the students who can’t make the monthly Rainbow Alliance meetings and don’t know another way to connect.”
Students in Rainbow Alliance have hand-picked everything that will go in the room, from books and furniture to decorations.
“They’re planning a really good library,” Downs said. “An Amazon registry has been set up with a lot of books, and I’ll be recruiting some work study students next semester to take care of the space and keep the door unlocked during the day.”