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An excellent question, especially considering its recent renovation and the celebration of its 30th anniversary this month. When the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center (GSCC) was first established as the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Campus Center in 1992, it wasn’t on campus at all, but in nearby, downtown Madison. A small but mighty staff of three led by founder Alnisa Allgood debuted what was then a student organization with programming that still thrives in today’s space, including speaker series and a lending library. The GSCC has long since made its way to campus and now occupies a sprawling, light-filled space in the heart of the cultural hub of campus, the Red Gym. According to Warren Scherer and Katherine Charek Briggs, director and assistant director of the GSCC, the new space, which opened in 2020 with nearly double the square footage of the previous one, was designed intentionally to ensure accessibility. A ramp that was in part a product of the historic building’s auditorium-style floor creates an accessible entry point. Strategically chosen carpeting assists newcomers with navigating an unfamiliar space. Light dimmers and air filters create a safe and comfortable environment. Modular furniture and assorted seating styles welcome everyone to find space and settle in. Aesthetically, the space features student artwork, a timeline of campus LGBTQ+ history and milestones (including an empty panel for history yet to be made), a prominently displayed poster that reads “Defend Trans Lives,” and a triptych mural by artist Jeanette Martín ’12. “We are instantly letting students know what we value,” Scherer says. “It is part of our practice that every person who accesses our space is acknowledged or welcomed.” Programmatically, the center has already outgrown the new space, but accommodates its twenty-one affiliated student organizations with a reservable conference room and a private room for teletherapy and individual meetings. The debut of the new physical space also coincided with a digital one in which people can find community from anywhere and at any time, in addition to offering hybrid digital and in-person programming. (Speaking of which, take a virtual tour to see for yourself!)  “There’s really good research on LGBTQ communities and lurking, or existing in digital spaces without participating, and feeling a sense of community just by seeing it happen between other people,” Charek Briggs says. “They don’t all use it, but there’s value to knowing that there is a space that they can access when they want it.” In short, through its many names, locations, staff members, resources, and programs in its 30 years at the UW, the GSCC has remained fiercely loyal to its mission of meeting its moment by educating, empowering, and advocating for the people it exists to serve. “It’s a home base,” Scherer says. “It’s a place where they are going to perpetually find validation. They’re going to find support. They’re going to find affirmation and connection. They’re going to find community to help address experiences of isolation and feeling alone.”

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