October 26, 2018 | Katherine Adams
Creating an inclusive culture on campus is a key factor in facilitating student success, and that begins with ensuring and supporting a diverse student body, says Joshua Quinn, University of Houston-Clear Lake’s new coordinator of women, gender and sexuality programs. His goal is to build community, advocate and ally for people who are part of the university’s LGBTQ+ population. Quinn’s office is part of the Division of Student Affairs, in the Office of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“My first goal is to try to get an assessment of the LGBTQ+ demographic on campus,” Quinn said. “We don’t ask for that information in any documentation, so I’m trying to get a census of that. It’s all about marketing who we are, inviting everyone to our programs, and being very visible.”
Quinn said he was planning several programs around gender and sexuality for the university community. “Recently, we celebrated National Coming Out Day,” he said. “We had a closet door in the Student Services and Classroom Building and students could sign their names or write affirmations. We provided information for resources on campus and in the community for anyone who needed them.”
Over 50 people came to that event, Quinn said. “That is the first recognition of National Coming Out Day on this campus. We will make sure it’s an annual signature event.”
His goal, Quinn said, was to build stability around his position and the initiatives that came from his office. “We want to make sure we find this demographic,” he said. “We take notice of how many people show up to events, and we will explore campus climate survey options. We don’t want to overload students with surveys, but it’s one way to connect with this part of our student population.”
After collecting the information, Quinn said he would assess funding and needs for additional programs, policy changes, and accessibility to resources. “I’ll look at all the elements, and have all the conversations needed,” he said. “This is not a surface-level initiative. We want to find out how we can do better and be better.”
Quinn said that although his current objective was to advocate and ally with the LGBTQ+ members of the student community, women and gender issues were an important part of the job. “Due to the current political climate, empowering women is very timely,” he said. “We are responding to a need. In my position, I see our students wanting to express the frustrations of everyday life. In Student Affairs, we look at the whole student and make sure they’re set up for success.”
Quinn has a master’s in education in student affairs from Texas State University in San Marcos and most recently held a similar position at University of North Texas in Denton.
For more information about UHCL’s Office of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, visit www.uhcl.edu/student-affairs/student-engagement/diversity-inclusion/student-diversity.