Three candidates remain for LGBTQ Resource Center coordinator position

Story by Rita Fay, Staff Writer

The UW-Eau Claire Women’s and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Questioning Resource Center is searching for a new coordinator for next year.
Chris Jorgenson has held the position for the last three years and is one of the final three candidates for the position. The other two candidates, Blair Gershenson and Ashley Olson, are not from Eau Claire.
The six person search and screen committee is made up of various students, staff and faculty. Assistant Dean of Students Jacqueline Bonneville supervises the coordinator position and said it was important to get varied people on the committee because this is a position that works with a lot of different people on campus.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Bonneville said. “I think more and more students have become involved in the process. We’ve gotten lots of students to give their input.”
The committee invited students, faculty and staff to an hour-long questioning session as well as an open forum for each candidate. The open forums allowed the candidates to speak about their thoughts about violence prevention on campus.
At his April 15 forum, Jorgenson said violence prevention relies heavily on collaboration between several programs on campus, including Student Health Services, Counseling Services, Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault and the UW-Eau Claire Police.
Jorgenson said there are four things that can be implemented to prevent violence on campus. First, an online referral hub where students can go for resources. Second, education about violence prevention for students and staff. Third, outreach to students to raise awareness about the issue. Last, implementing a bystander intervention training program, similar to the safe space training currently available to students.
“Most colleges put a lot of money into bystander intervention programs because it works,” Jorgenson said.
Jorgenson’s other ideas included violence prevention posters, a women’s resource center and applying for grants because the Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center has a budget of $11,000 per year.
Bonneville said they had changed the position last year from having two graduate students share the position to having one full-time professional, Jorgenson, do the job.
“We decided to try that for a year,” Bonneville said. “So it was on an interim basis, so Chris always knew that there would be a search at this point and we would be doing a full search for the position.”
Olson is currently the Sociocultural Coordinator at UW- River Falls.
“I’m kind of seen as the resident expert on every marginalized student population,” Olson said during her April 17 forum. “Whatever the group, my job is to support them. Take the dominate group, my job is to educate them.”
Her past experience includes on-campus diversity events, awareness campaigns and acting as a mentor to students.
Olson said she would follow a three part programming frame to prevent violence that includes proactive, reactive and blended actions.
Proactive actions would include raising awareness and empowering the community. Reactive actions would be responding to the current campus climate and developing programs.
Gershenson is a current graduate student at Iowa State University.
Gerhenson said there are three main components to violence prevention on campus which includes collaborating with campus partners, education and awareness and support and referrals.
Bonneville said the committee should reach their decision and make an announcement early next month.