Three working groups established to strengthen education and awareness of LGBTQ issues on campus were formally named and charged to begin their work on Friday.

The size of the groups vary between 12 and 14 members, including two co-chairs, and are comprised of students, faculty and administrators. Two of the groups are co-led by faculty members who have been critical of the university’s treatment of LGBTQ students in recent weeks – history professor Tommaso Astarita and associate English professor Ricardo Ortiz – and one is co-chaired by Bill McCoy, the director of LGBTQ resources. Each group will also be led by one of three university administrators, including Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, Associate Provost Marjory Blumenthal and Director of the Center for ulticultural Equity and Access Dennis Williams.

Additionally, several members of the Out for Change campaign – which has actively petitioned for reforms this semester after two gay students were assaulted in alleged hate crimes – are represented in the groups.

University President John J. DeGioia announced the creation of the groups at an open meeting on campus on Oct. 24.

Members of Out for Change recommended students to serve on the committees, said GU Pride co-President Scott Chessare (SFS ’10) last month.

University spokesperson Julie Bataille said the working groups met on Friday and will continue to meet regularly for the next four to six weeks. “I think it’s likely that the working groups will all meet at least once a week, if not more,” she said.

The groups aim to evaluate different aspects of LGBTQ life on campus and make recommendations to university administrators on how to better serve LGBTQ students, with one group focused on reporting of relevant safety incidents, one on the development of increased support systems for LGBTQ students and one focused on co-curricular educational initiatives

The groups will regularly meet with Vice President for Public Affairs and Strategic Development Daniel Porterfield and Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny, who will transmit recommendations made by the groups to DeGioia and University Provost James O’Donnell throughout the semester. DeGioia said at the forum that he expects the groups to take action within one month of when they start working.

“The goal is for each group to make recommendations as they develop them and, depending on what they are, begin to have things implemented as soon as possible,” said Bataille, who is a member of the working group on reporting.

The working group on reporting, which is intended to evaluate and strengthen the university’s means for notifying the community when acts of intolerance are reported, is co-chaired Astarita and Williams. The other 10 members of the group include Faculty Senate President Wayne Davis and Vice President for University Safety Rocco DelMonaco.

The working group on resources, which will evaluate student needs and focus on the possibility of the establishment of a full-time LGBTQ resource coordinator and an LGBTQ resource center, is co-chaired by Olson and Ortiz. Members of the committee – which includes seven faculty and administrators, five students and an alumnus – include Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Philip Boroughs, S.J, GUSA Vice President Matthew Appenfeller (COL ’08), GU Pride co-Presidents Scott Chessare (SFS ’10) and Olivia Chitayat (COL ’10).

DeGioia said at the open forum that he expects the LGBTQ resource center to be opened by the beginning of the fall 2008 semester.

The education working group, which will concentrate on expanding educational programs to promote greater inclusion of and respect for LGBTQ students, is co-chaired by Blumenthal and McCoy, and includes six other faculty members, administrators and staff – including Executive Director of Campus Ministry Fr. Timothy Godfrey, S.J. – and six students.

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