Western has something new to be proud of
By Sabrina Carinci
The introduction of the gay and lesbian chapter of the alumni association is only one of the causes for celebration in today's "homo-coming" reception being held at the UWO Research Facility for Gay and Lesbian Studies.
"[Today's] celebration is threefold," said Kevin Hehir, a fourth-year comparative literature student at Western and one of the organizers who helped form the new alumni chapter.
The reception will not only celebrate the launch of the new chapter, but also the research facility's newest space in the modern languages department. The presentation of a plaque which is being donated by the Homophile Association of London Ontario will also be a part of the ceremony, Hehir said.
Sara Steers, assistant director of alumni programs in the department of alumni relations and development at Western, said the creation of the newest alumni chapter is a positive one. "I think it marks a real feeling of inclusion for the alumni there's a place for all alumni in the association," she said.
Steers added the creation of various chapters within the association is not unique. "Western has 165,000 alumni. Some group together into their various disciplines, interest or geography."
The new chapter will also have a positive spin-off to present students and create a link from these students to the alumni, Steer said. "[The chapter] may choose to do a lot of new things, like start a mentorship program, or they may decide to start a bursary."
James Miller, director of the research facility and professor for the faculty of arts, said both the introduction of the new alumni chapter and the launch of the new library space go hand in hand. "The gay and lesbian chapter is run through the library," he said.
"The library has grown so rapidly that it moved from one room in my office to three rooms in [University College]," Miller said. He added the rapid growth of the library was part of the reason it was promoted from a library to a research facility.
In an application to the university's administration last November, Miller illustrated the growth of the library represented the increasing want and appreciation for gay and lesbian studies. It was this recognition which helped to formally recognize the research facility as a space where both students and faculty can study, among other things, sexuality. "We now have approximately 1,300 volumes we have a full spectrum," he said.
Pete Hill, VP-campus issues for the University Students' Council, said the USC also felt the library was an important aspect of the Western community. "We'll donate $400 a year in resources," he said.
"I felt it was important that the USC support this new university initiative in recognizing professor Miller's work in providing a gay and lesbian resource centre one of the first of its kind in Canada," he said.