We write you about this past weekend’s violence in Orlando—the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub that left at least 49 people dead and over 50 more injured. This tragedy has been on our minds throughout this week, and we suspect the same is true with many of you. This attack was aimed at the Orlando LGBTQ community; most of the victims were Latinx and we mourn for them and their friends and families. This letter is in support of that community and all of the members of our LGBTQ community at UIC. We stand with you during this difficult time. Your presence makes our community stronger.
While we strive for our educational community to be one where ideas and perspectives are vigorously researched and openly discussed, hateful speech and violence have no place on our campus. This is especially important given the long history of discrimination and violence that LGBTQ communities, particularly queer and trans communities of color, have endured and continue to endure on a regular basis. This year alone, more than 200 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in 34 states. We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment where all campus members feel safe to live, work, research, teach, and study regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, ability status, or socioeconomic class. What happened in Orlando strengthens the importance of that commitment. We are one of the nation’s most diverse campuses; we are proud of that and better for it.
Traumatic experiences such as this can leave each of us greatly impacted, whether we are aware of it or not. During this challenging time, we want to remind everyone of some important resources available for support on our campus. The Counseling Center is staffed with professionals who are available to talk and have listed a number of links to important resources on their website. Additionally, our Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change (CCUSC) are dedicated to providing safe spaces for students to gather and engage in dialogue together. We encourage all campus members to seek out these resources for support and guidance. We also encourage everyone to reach out to one other, especially your LGBTQ friends and family, and offer your support.
This week has been filled with many dark hours. In such times, we find solace in being surrounded by people who are committed to ending hatred, bigotry, discrimination, and violence. We find hope in community engagement, with one another on our campus and throughout Chicago. We find hope in the work we do, as an urban educational institution, to eliminate disparities in health, education, and economic opportunity. We find hope in working at a place where we do not just speak of a commitment to ending hatred, discrimination, and violence—we live that commitment. We find hope, strength, compassion, and love in each of you. Thank you for your commitment and your action.
The Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer People and Allies
With the support of the Office of Diversity – Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Asian Americans – Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Blacks – Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Latinos – Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women – African American Cultural Center – Asian American Resource and Cultural Center – Campus Advocacy Network – Disability Resource Center – Gender and Sexuality Center – Latino Cultural Center – Women’s Leadership and Resource Center
UIC is among the nation’s most diverse universities. We consider diversity a strength that contributes to the success of our students, staff, faculty, and institutional research. Neither diminished state support nor a more challenging financial environment should deter us from our commitment to diversity. The Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of LGB Issues was established in 1991 by Chancellor Stukel. Within two years, the CCSLGBI proposed that an office be established to focus on LGB issues for students, faculty, and staff. Major concerns at that time centered around Climate, Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Benefit Issues, Safe Space, and additional resources and events. The inclusion of transgender people, and all queer people and allies, soon followed.
We continue to be involved with issues involving campus climate, including healthcare in policy and practice, education, public service and outreach, and research.