The LGBTQ Center, like many other Centers before and since, was partly an institutional response to a specific student-led Out for Change campaign in the Fall of 2007, that held the institutional accountable for hate crimes on campus. That is the easy narrative. The more complex story is how at various “moments” in institutional memory and history, there emerges a time when student-led demands lead to large institutional changes and reforms, while others do not. This is often an intricate interplay of student demands, pushing, questioning and institutional response, resistance, and growth. Institutions though are not abstract, but made of the very constituents it seems both to embody and to resist.
Student activism has had a long history in American higher education from its very earliest days, and has helped shape and inform our understanding of “education” in the US context. Whether it was the 60s, the Civil Rights movement, the Anti-Apartheid movement, the early struggles for women’s rights—our institutions have both fostered and resisted social and cultural and political change. I am hoping that your conversation while perhaps reflecting on the formation of the LGBTQ Center at that particular historic moment in Fall 2007—can really range over the large issue of Universities as change makers and as bastions of preservation and resistance. I am particularly interested in having this somewhat paradoxical and contradictory idea teased out. And the more current challenges —whether it was Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, and DACA; and perhaps the growing divisions within movements. Or is that a false division?