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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student


New LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Council holds call out meeting Thursday


IU’s new LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Council held a call-out meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Solarium. The event gave faculty and staff the opportunity to get involved with the new council that aims to serve the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

According to an IU press release, the purpose of the call-out meeting was to identify people interested in council leadership positions and discuss creating the group’s constitution.

The event featured four speakers, including Bruce Smail, director of the LGBTQ+ Culture Center, special assistant to the vice president for Diversity Equity Inclusion and interim co-chair of the council, and Vivian Nun Halloran, associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion and for Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences.

When he started working at IU in 2020, Smail said he asked why there wasn’t an LGBTQ+ council for staff and faculty. He said he started trying to form the council in spring 2020 before returning with a mixer for faculty, staff and alumni in fall 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smail said he felt it was strange IU did not have an employee group for the LGBTQ+ community, especially as IUPUI had one.

[Related: LGBTQ+ Culture Center raising money to transform center into more student friendly space]

“It just felt weird being on a campus that didn't have one and also, being the leader of the LGBTQ+ Cultural Center, it just seemed like we should have one,” Smail said.

Smail said he was excited to see the large turnout at the call-out meeting, with more than 100 people RSVPing to the event.  Smail said he thinks the call-out meeting was a great opportunity for people to see each other and express interest in starting the faculty and staff council.

Nun Halloran said faculty and staff have told her they felt demoralized by the actions of the legislature. Hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ laws were filed in state legislatures across the country this year, according to a press release. She said faculty and staff members expressed they needed a space to talk to one another.

“So, the question was to find out why there isn't one here,” Nun Halloran said.

Nun Halloran said she communicated these faculty and staff concerns to Smail, where she learned about his attempts to create a group for LGBTQ+ faculty and staff.

“With the associate dean title, I could get people at the table,” Nun Halloran said. “So that's all I've done is really leveraged my position and my access to get the people that are working to build this through to the finish line.”

Additionally, she said Colin Johnson, President of the Bloomington Faculty Council, and Alison Sinadinos, President of the Bloomington Staff Council, met with her and Smail all summer. Both Johnson and Sinadinos spoke at the meeting.

Going forward, Nun Hulloran said the group will have to make a constitution and governance documents. She said she and Smail hope to see the council through until there is a constitution.

[Related: Former IU student Declan Farley posts update on harassment from last year]

Their model, Nun Hulloran said, is the Latino Staff and Faculty Council, which holds monthly meetings and lunches for staff and faculty.

“So, we can come up with something that serves the needs of this demographic in a way that they want it to, then our job was done,” Nun Hullaron said. “Then the next group of leadership team can make it do what it does.”

Additionally, Smail said he and Nun Hullaron will share future opportunities for people interested in developing the organization to meet with the group and lay out the constitution and bylaws.

“For most of the remainder of this semester, we'll be designing the organization, and we also have a huge interest,” Smail said. “I think at the same point, we can also start building sort of the community that's there and connecting with each other as well.”

Liam Newlin, a data engineer at IU, said he saw the call-out meeting as an opportunity to help bring the LGBTQ+ faculty and staff community together. 

“For me, I transitioned 18 years ago, and quite frankly, I have felt more hostility in the past couple of years than I did 18 years ago when I transitioned,” Newlin said.

He said he thinks it's important for the LBGTQ+ community to be visible and demonstrate they’re an important part of IU.

“I wanted to be a part of that,” Newlin said. “I didn't really want to be absorbed into the woodwork anymore. I think it's time to be present.”

[Related: La Casa celebrates Naitonal Hispanic Heritage Month, serves Latine community year-round]

He said he was amazed and grateful so many people came out to the callout meeting because it demonstrates LGBTQ+ faculty and staff need a community and have a voice.

“I am grateful for everybody showing up and it's a wonderful diverse group of people,” Newlin said. “It's pretty amazing."

However, Newlin said there is still a lot of work to be done.

“I think with a lot of the negative rhetoric that's been going on, especially for trans folks, that's an opportunity to kind of bring people together and demonstrate that we are all one,” Newlin said.

The community, he said, needs to find ways to support each other and lift each other up, rather than pull each other down.

“I think that's what coming together is going to help us do-- organize and to have a united voice,” Newlin said.

Anyone interested in becoming involved with the faculty council can fill out an interest form. Anyone interested in helping build the council’s governing documents, can contact Nun Hallaron.

[Related: IU offering new diversity certification program]

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