Metropolitan State University of Denver is forming its newest Affinity Group for LGBTQAI+ faculty and staff members.
The group will host its inaugural event on Tuesday, Sept. 5, from 2:30-5pm in JSSB 211. LGBTQAI+ identified faculty and staff members are encouraged to stop by and learn more about the ways to get involved in future activities, and even grab some free lunch.
Ahead of Tuesday’s event, co-organizers Tyrell Allen, director of the LGBTQ Student Resource Center at Auraria and K Scherrer, professor of Social Work and Faculty Fellow for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, chat with the Early Bird about what employees can expect from the new group.
How did the idea for the group come about?
Allen: The idea for this group, and the interest in starting an affinity group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, Intersex and other allied identities (LGBTQAI+) faculty and staff members, aren’t especially new at all. Multiple factors helped to create the conditions for this current effort. In these early conversations we noted and appreciated the support we were hearing from leaders across campus, several of whom have graciously agreed to provide resources to support this initiative. We think the time is right to build the infrastructure for a meaningful and sustainable affinity group!
Scherrer: During my almost 10 years here at MSU Denver, there have been several efforts to start up an affinity group. But for a variety of reasons, I’m sure, they just couldn’t be sustained at those times. My work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in analyzing the qualitative data from the last Campus Climate Survey indicated that LGBTQAI+ faculty and staff members would benefit from additional opportunities to connect with one another, find support in their identities and contribute to more affirming experiences for LGBTQAI+ faculty members, staff members and students. These findings encouraged initial conversations between the two of us.
What is the goal for the group?
Allen: We aim to support LGBTQAI+ identified faculty and staff members by cultivating a sense of belonging and fostering community. We also hope is that this affinity group will serve similar functions for faculty and staff members as MSU Denver’s other affinity groups.
Scherrer: In the long term, we also hope to contribute to University policies and practices that impact the experiences of faculty members, staff members and students!
How is it going to help better the MSU Denver community?
Scherrer: Engaging with identity-based communities, especially for individuals with minoritized identities, is an important strategy to cultivate a sense of belonging, inclusion, and joy. We hope that this group will serve as an organizing arm to support the joyful retention of diverse faculty and staff members.
What can employees expect to give (in terms of commitment) and gain from joining the Affinity Group?
Allen: Folks who sign up as members for this affinity group can be as involved as little or as much as they want! We’ve created a membership survey for those who would like to be included as members. Members will be notified about upcoming events, as well as have opportunities to get more involved in activities such as creating infrastructure for this group, building community on campus, and policy and advocacy efforts. During this academic year, we’re especially excited to create bylaws and establish the structure for this group to ensure the legacy and impact of this group well into the future.