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LGBTQ resource center opens at Bellevue College
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LGBTQ resource center opens at Bellevue College

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Bellevue College opened its new LGBTQ Resource Center with a public ribbon-cutting ceremony September 30. The Center's resources will include books and computers for use in research on LGBTQ issues. The Center will also provide a focal point for educational seminars and presentations on LGBTQ issues, as well as a gathering place for members of the campus Gay-Straight Alliance.

"I'm delighted with the opening of our new LGBTQ Resource Center," said Bellevue College Dean of Student Services Tom Pritchard. "Its educational programs will contribute significantly to our progress in providing a welcoming and supportive academic environment for all."

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the Center, Room 225 in the college's student union, and was attended by students, faculty, and members of the LGBT community, and included a special performance by celebrity drag queen Miss Coco Peru.

Sergey Smirnov, a former student government officer, said the LGBTQ Center was a program he helped implement and secure funding for.

"Bellevue College has had a very active student LGBTQ movement in the past. However, when I got to school [2005-2008], there was little activity," Smirnov told SGN. "When I was serving as the student government VP of student affairs and pluralism, I tried multiple approaches to starting the activities again. However, I thought, even if I was successful, what would guarantee that LGBT activity would not disappear in a few years again? This needed to be a sustainable organization."

Smirnov said throughout his year of service, he often heard from other students who wanted a physical space for LGBTQ students and their allies and staff to use as a resource.

"I've always thought from a 'why not?' perspective, and naturally thought there was no harm in trying, even if there was no guarantee to make it happen," he said. "The best way to get a resource center started would be a student-led initiative with student money. So, literally overnight, I wrote a proposal for the creation of the LGBTQ Resource Center to be funded from the Student Services and Activities Fee."

During the budget process, he said, many people came together to express their support, and the Center was granted a modest, yet unprecedented, startup fund.

"In the coming few years, many talented and passionate people carried on the vision and have grown it to where it is today," Smirnov told SGN.

Smirnov currently works at Bellevue College in Enrollment Services and attends the University of Washington.

"The Center will provide a secure environment and safe environment that also provides anonymity for the people who come seeking help or emotional support or referrals to resources that they don't feel safe looking for," said Andres Munt, current ASG Clubs and Programs representative.

Bellevue College's main campus is located at 3000 Landerholm Circle S.E., Bellevue, at the intersection of S.E. 28th St. and 148th Ave. S.E.

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