ANN ARBOR- The U-M Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, the oldest office of its kind in the nation, announced its new name Monday – The Spectrum Center. The change became official after approval from the Dean of Students and the Vice President for Student Affairs as well as support from the executive officers of the university.
“One of the reasons for moving forward with our initial proposal was because the community reflects so much more than the letters L-G-B-T. The community is more complex,” said Center Director Jackie Simpson. “We, again, want to acknowledge that the process did prove to be challenging, given that one’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are incredibly personal. At the same time, we know that changing trends have told us that the communities of LGBTQ people go by any number of terms, including queer and same gender loving and, of course, ally,” she continued.
One common theme emerged in the process – individuals and groups wanted a name that allowed for flexibility, variety, fluidity and multiplicity. A name that lended itself to inclusivity and a broader perspective. In addition, the staff had to think about the vision of the office said Program Coordinator Kevin Correa. “In essence, what is the work of the office and when we are accessed, what is it that students are looking for – a place to feel safe and supported, a place to be engaged in advocacy, a place to learn about oneself and the community, a place to learn how to navigate a world that continues to be oppressive and discriminatory to those who identify as LGBT, a place to celebrate and let one’s hair down. It’s all of those things.”
The Spectrum Center began its name change process as early as 2005 with discussions among the U-M’s LGBT community.
The Spectrum Center met with and discussed the name change with many different constituencies from across the university community, including the Department of Women’s Studies, the Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative, the LGBT Commission of the Michigan Student Assembly, RELATE multicultural student organization and other campus and community partners. Community forums, online surveys and web blogs were used to ensure that the widest representation of voices were solicited and heard. The final decision was based on a collection of ideas and themes that emerged from many conversations.
“Our discussion in the choosing of a name was also reflective of not just labels of an identity group but also of the work we have been asked to do. And we believe that the name Spectrum Center does just that,” said Correa.
The Spectrum Center’s mission, vision and major programs and services will be maintained.
The Spectrum Center staff hopes to have all administrative processes and informational directories up to date by August 1. A contest to determine the new logo for The Spectrum Center will be launched on March 26.
-filed March 24, 2008