Section: News

LGBTQ+ forum provides students space to voice concerns, suggestions

LGBTQ+ forum provides students space to voice concerns, suggestions

At the LGBTQ+ Student Open Forum on Sept. 13, Timothy Bussey, the new assistant director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), offered students a chance to voice concerns and ask questions related to LGBTQ+ life on campus.

Bussey began the forum by discussing his interest in accessible and inclusive LGBTQ+ healthcare, as well as an upcoming November workshop that will give students the opportunity to make gender marker and name changes to government-issued IDs.

Bussey then opened the forum to students, whose questions ranged from the need for LGBTQ+ identities to be recognized in course curriculum and faculty training to LGBTQ+ healthcare at the Cox Health and Counseling Center.

Bussey also talked about how trans students can have their name and photo changed on their K-Card for free by contacting Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92 and visiting the Eaton Center.

Students at the forum said they were impressed with Bussey.

“I was really impressed with how he was able to get PrEP and PEP and hormones sorted out in his first month here, before students were back and everything,” James Lituchy ’19, one of Unity House’s managers, said. 

What Lituchy is referencing is Bussey’s efforts to raise awareness for the fact that students can get these HIV treatments through Kenyon’s comprehensive student health insurance plans. Bussey has coordinated for PrEP to be available on campus in the near future. PEP is available at the Knox Community Health Center (KCHC).

Grace Harris ’20, co-manager of Unity House, talked about Bussey’s willingness to translate what students tell him to action.

“Timothy has done incredible work so far … He is so open to hearing students and what they need, and that drives his work. He’s also so capable of organizing things; he’s very versed in bureaucratic language,” they said. “It’s what we needed in ODEI.”

Bussey said that the biggest changes thus far have been revamping the ODEI website to highlight existing resources for LGBTQ+ students, including pages highlighting queer-focused courses as well as courses addressing gender and sex, information regarding student health resources, information on LGBTQ+ funds and scholarships, and a page for faculty and staff resources.

Bussey also said his own experiences as a queer student have informed his efforts to make LGBTQ+ resources more visible and easier to access.

“I’m a queer first-generation college student, and so throughout all of my education finding and piecemealing these resources together was something that I had to learn how to do,” he said.

Bussey also talked about efforts to get more training for faculty.

“We’re also very actively going to be working with faculty and departments in terms of getting more LGBTQ+ training opportunities for them,” he said. “So we are in the process of revamping our safe spaces training right now, and we also are already working with different groups to have training opportunities for faculty to think more about queer and trans inclusion in the classroom.”

Bussey added that he had worked with Professor of Sociology Austin Johnson to offer a training program during the new faculty orientation this past August focusing heavily on trans inclusion.

Bussey said that he expects his experience in the classroom, where he taught political science as well as in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department at the University of Connecticut will aid him in working with faculty. He described himself as having one foot in the administration as well, coordinating the weekly lecture series at the University of Connecticut’s Rainbow Center, a campus resource for LGBTQ+ students.

“Sometimes at some colleges and universities, you see a bit of a divide between faculty and student affairs professionals. So I think the fact that I’ve served in a teaching position and served in student affairs positions, I think that will help bridge some of the gap,” Bussey said, adding that he had not seen any sort of divide at Kenyon.

He said that his idea for the forum came in part from a desire to have students help to guide the work of ODEI.

“If students have concerns that they want to bring forward, please feel free to contact me, or I can relay that information to our LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, which is actively meeting,” Bussey added.

In a previous form of this article, the Collegian mistakenly wrote that the name-changing clinic was for both government-issued IDs and K-Cards. This clinic is for government-issued IDs only. The Collegian regrets this error. 


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