Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Admin hires GLBTQ affairs consultant

Published: August 29, 2008
Section: Front Page

Over the summer, the university hired a consultant for GLBTQ affairs in response to a proposal put forth by members of Triskelion, the university’s GLBTQ organization, in the spring of 2007.

Alison Better, a doctoral candidate in the sociology department who also teaches first year writing courses, will hold the new position. “Intellectually,” Better said, “this is where my work lives. My research is on sex and sexuality.”

Former Queer Resource Center coordinator Marcus Simon ’07 remarked in the Apr. 27, 2007 edition of The Hoot that Trisk needed structural support in order to further its goals and offer a full range of services. To that end, he and other members of Trisk and QRC, a branch of Trisk, met with Associate Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams. “They had just said ‘we’ve been doing a lot of work for a long time [and] we’d like a staff member to help us see this stuff through,’” Adams said.

Adams explained, “we came up with a smaller job description that would allow us to create a graduate opportunity and then working with some folks in the graduate world, we put the word out.”

When evaluating candidates, “I didn’t want someone who would be status quo,” said Adams. Better, he commented, “will push us to reach a higher plateau with having an inclusive community.”

At present, the consultant for GLBTQ affairs is a part-time position. Better is only scheduled to work 10 hours per week. However, Adams commented, “it’s just the beginning. The university is clearly in support of this initiative and dedicated to seeing it be effective.”

“I’m a little disappointed that it’s just 10 hours,” said Trisk General Coordinator Megan Straughan ’11, “but it does mean a lot that we have her.” She added, “I’m hoping this will go really well and it’ll be an example to the administration that we need more time.”

“[Better] is genuinely interested in how things are now and how things are changing and what that means for Brandeis,” said Straughan.

At present Better’s duties are “very fluid.” “I haven’t really thought about an agenda because my agenda is [Trisk’s] agenda,” she commented. “I need to begin with everything that’s on the table.”

Some of Trisk’s current projects include the gender-neutral bathroom project and the gender-neutral housing initiative. “She will be wonderful for those things – pushing the administration in ways that we can’t,” Straughan remarked.

“The great thing about Alison is that she will be a great advocate for cutting through the bureaucratic tape we’ve had to deal with in the past,” Trisk Pride coordinator Matt Shear ’11 said.

Furthermore, said Straughan, “having her there as an extra bounce for the extremely frustrating bureaucratic stuff allows us to focus more on the student body.” She added, “her pure purpose is to be our advocate. It lends us amazing amounts of power and influence.”

Better agreed, commenting on the importance of being able to “work with staff as staff.” Her position, she said, “allows for a connection between Trisk and Res Life that couldn’t happen before.”

In addition to working with Trisk to further their goals, Better will also hold office hours for all members of the community.

“Alison isn’t just for Trisk. Alison exists for our community,” he remarked.

Indeed, regardless if one identifies as GLBTQ, Better commented, “we all grapple with gender. We all grapple with sexuality. We all have bodies.”

“Her office is in the ICC, which is wonderful because Trisk is really trying to open itself up especially in terms of diversity,” Straughan commented. “We’d like to become a bigger part of the ICC.”

Better reports to ICC Director Monique Gnanaratnam, who in turn reports to Adams.

“I look forward to a beautiful addition to the ICC family,” Adams commented. Her presence in the ICC and Trisk’s increased involvement, he said, will lead to a “greater sense of being able to be yourself on campus.”

“This is a demonstration of what happens when students and administrative folk come together,” Adams added.