At URI, the rich diversity our students bring to our campus– from religion and race, to ethnicity and interests, to upbringing and income – is welcomed and valued. And now, we’re on our way to becoming the very first public institution to design and build a free-standing LGBTQ Center specifically for the needs and services of the LGBTQ community.
In spring 2014, Rhode Island state officials joined the URI community in a ceremonial breaking of ground for the future 4,300-square-foot building designed to give our LGBTQ community a strong identity and take yet another step in ensuring a campus climate that is welcoming and safe for people of all backgrounds.
In constructing this building, we design a future at this institution for every person to be valued, cared for, and affirmed, regardless of gender and identity. ~Annie Russell
“It’s a great moment for the University of Rhode Island to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity that’s part of our community now and will be in the future. As we have said in our Transformational Goals, building a community in which every member is welcomed, supported and valued is essential to our identity and mission,” said URI President David M. Dooley at the groundbreaking.
The LGBTQ Center creates and runs programs that allow the entire URI community to explore concepts related to LGBTQ people and issues, meet and create meaningful relationships with each other, and to receive and offer the benefit of support. In fact, its programs and approaches have been adopted by more than 15 other institutions nationwide and one internationally.
At the groundbreaking, LGBTQ Center Director Annie Russell said, “In digging into this earth, we dig into a future of inclusion and voice for gender and sexuality at URI. And in constructing this building, we design a future at this institution for every person to be valued, cared for, and affirmed, regardless of gender and identity.”
Sophomore pharmacy major and orientation leader FloJo Badejo, who prefers gender-neutral pronouns, said ze struggled with hir identity for most of hir life, “until I came to URI and became part of the LGBTQ community. And now I’m standing here in front of the site for the first freestanding LGBTQ Center… at any institution in the nation. This is one of the most important, thought-provoking, and life-changing opportunities and moments to have ever happened in my life.”
In making the URI campus a community that welcomes and values the LGBTQ community, the Center joins our Living Learning Community focused on gender equity and sexuality and academically connected to Gender and Women’s Studies, our Women’s Center, which works to offer an environment rich in visible role models and free of sexual bias and inequities, our Office of Community, Equity and Diversity, and our LGBT+ Alumni & Friends Chapter.
URI is a community of big thinkers. And no matter what your sexuality or gender identity, if you’re the kind of person who values all that a diverse college community offers, URI wants you.
Pictured above: URI students Suzanne Lossio, Bing Chen, Ianna Leshin, Michael Bonilla, Morgan Boutmy, Marquel Wright, and Kayla Berrios at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new LGBTQ Center.