A local university professor is working to create a first-of-its-kind resource center at Los Angeles Valley College for LGBTQ students who have no place to congregate.
Hasmik Arakelyan is a professor of business law and psychology at LAVC, where she is also the faculty adviser for the student-run Gay-Straight Alliance club. She also teaches psychology at Cal State Los Angeles.
“My mission is to increase the visibility of LGBTQ students on college campuses, and provide a place of safety and belonging,” she told City News Service. “It’s difficult if you are LGBTQ and have nowhere to meet other students like yourself. LGBTQ students — who spend most of their day on campus — need a place to strengthen their sense of identity.”
While the idea has the support of LAVC President Erika Endrijonas, the immediate challenge is to determine where the center would be located on the Valley Glen campus and how it would be funded. As part of that process, a campus-wide survey will be distributed next week to gauge the need for the center.
Endrijonas, the first openly lesbian president in the history of the Los Angeles Community College District, is a founding member of the national LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education organization.
“I am deeply committed to advancing LGBTQ visibility on my campus,” she said. “We have lots of LGBTQ students and I want to do anything I can to support them.”
Along with her other efforts, Arakelyan leads LGBTQ sensitivity training workshops for faculty to increase understanding and sensitivity to LGBTQ students. As an advocate for LGBTQ youth, she co-created a resource page for LGBTQ students to be published on the college website, and placed about three dozen posters throughout the campus. She also asked to have an LGBTQ display
case installed in the new campus administration building.
Although four-year universities have had LGBTQ centers for decades, no community college in the Los Angeles area has one, Arakelyan said.
“We will be the first and hopefully others will follow,” she said.
The professor added that when she started the GSA club at LAVC last year, there were three members. Today, three dozen students show up regularly, and more than 150 student and faculty members are involved in various ways throughout the school year, she said.
“Many faculty and students came out at GSA meetings and said that the environment makes them feel at home,” Arakelyan said. “However, we need a center. I want our students to feel welcome and safe in the college and feel a sense of belonging.”
Arakelyan said she adopted the model of the LGBTQ centers she visited at local universities. The centers are typically open daily and provide a comfortable social environment as well as computers, a library and health and scholarship information.
In other news, part of Sepulveda Boulevard was shut down after a woman dangled her legs off the roof of an 18-story building in Sherman Oaks.
City News Service
The post Professor Working To Create First-Of-Its Kind LGBTQ Resource Center At Valley College appeared first on SFVmedia.com.