Pomona’s Queer Resource Center (QRC), a support and educational center for members and allies of the LGBTQ community, will officially become a seven-college institution this summer after an agreement from all five Claremont Colleges and two graduate schools to provide program funding.
“For many years, the QRC, while solely Pomona funded, was actually supporting students from across the Claremont Colleges,” said Miriam Feldblum, Vice President and Dean of Students at Pomona. “That makes sense for the LGBT community here, because it really does need support across the campuses, so while we were very happy about the fact that the QRC was supporting other students, the fact of the matter is we weren’t getting any funding for that support.”
In January, the presidents of the five colleges, Claremont Graduate Unversity, and Keck Graduate Institute collectively passed a proposal to phase in 7C funding over the next two years. The proposal came from a working group assigned by the intercollegiate Student Deans Committee.
“My colleagues across the colleges…saw there was a clear need, so they were interested to see what they could do to help,” said Feldblum, who was part of the group that drafted the proposal.
The change will officially come into effect on Jul. 1, when current QRC Coordinator Adriana di Bartolo will become the director of the center and 7C funding will begin. By formalizing 7C funding, the QRC budget will become part of the intercollegiate pool, which has its own treasurer and funding approval process. Financing will be split between the schools according to formulas that apply to all resources the colleges share, such as Campus Safety, Honnold/Mudd Library, and Student Health Services.
The transition will not happen immediately, Feldblum said.
“The staffing budget will be phased in over two years, and probably part of the operating budget as well,” she said. “But once the entire program has been phased in, the center’s budget will have more than doubled.”
“It’s going to be a slow start, as I’m still going to be one person in the office next year,” Bartolo added. ”But I’ll be able to hire a full-time program coordinator next summer, so I’m really excited about that.”
Bartolo said the need for a strengthened 7C QRC is something the colleges have considered for a while.
“I think it’s very serendipitous, and things just came together at the right time. I think there are a number of events that led up to this decision, [like] what happened on Walker Wall last year,” she said. “A couple weeks later, a rock came through our window here, which also gave notice about what is happening. Also, some rough stuff has been happening in the LGBT community [nationwide]. With all of the kids who were killing themselves at the beginning of the year, there are still huge problems with bullying. I think it gave notice to what are we doing for students, faculty, and staff at these colleges.”
Bartolo said that she has always tried to operate as a multiple-college resource, but with increased funding she will be able to reach out to more 7C students to join the QRC staff.
“There was always a roadblock in terms of how many non-Pomona students they could hire, which limited how much outreach they could do to all the other colleges,” said Berenice Villela SC ’12, a leader of FAMILY, the LGBTQ-ally group at Scripps.
Although the center will be open to students at all 7Cs, Bartolo said she wants to continue to support campus-specific groups such as FAMILY, PRISM at Harvey Mudd, and Q&A at Pitzer, which each have their own dynamic communities. She said her focus will be on making the QRC space welcoming to all groups, and will particularly reach out to allies, faculty, and staff.
Villela said she believes the QRC’s growth will benefit smaller campus groups.
“At worst, we’re just going to grow, and at best, there is going to be more communication with the QRC,” she said. “People go to the QRC and to FAMILY for very different reasons, but I think students will start using the QRC more because that’s something that hasn’t happened to the extent that it really could.”
Students and staff said the colleges’ decision to institutionalize the QRC is as much an endorsement of the center as it is a financial move.
“It’s [about] a lot more than the funding,” said Angela Moore PZ ’13, Resource Manager at the QRC. “It’s the name, that this is a historical decision. Having the 7C recognition means we’re here to stay and really [be] a part of the campus community.”
“It’s really legitimizing to see all seven [schools] putting funding toward something that is so important,” she said. “We’re really just very excited for them.”