UM graduate fills GLBT Resource Center position
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 02:09
Even on a campus rich in tradition, times still change and the clock marches on. Sidney Gardner recently accepted the position of Program Coordinator for the Texas A&M GLBT Resource Center and is focusing on maintaining the past and improving the future.
A Texas native, Gardner graduated with her undergraduate degree from Texas Women’s University. She then attended the University of Minnesota in Mankato to complete her master’s degree in women’s studies. There she held a graduate assistantship in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Center. Gardner said this is where her love for working within gender and sexuality resource centers began.
After completing her work at the University of Minnesota, Gardner worked professionally at the Metropolitan Statue University in St. Paul in the Gender and Sexuality Services Center. She assisted in forming an alliance of individuals who worked with the GLBT community and their allies in the area. What was formed, Gardner said, was essentially a Minnesota GLBTA campus alliance.
“We started what ended up becoming a non-profit organization in the state of Minnesota specifically formed around uniting the campuses in the state, public, private, around LGBT issues in higher education,” Gardner said.
This alliance utilized the students, faculty and staff involved to provide resources and develop training materials for various campuses and larger companies within the state of Minnesota. Gardner said this was what she was most proud of during her time at Metropolitan State University.
Gardner said the transition to Texas A&M was as if she was coming home. Though the environment at Texas A&M is considered an unfriendly atmosphere for GLBT students, Gardner said it is important to remember the resources that the campus does have and the progress that has already been made.
“We’re the only dedicated center in the state. If you look at [the University of Texas] or [the University of Houston], those centers are combined with the women’s centers,” Gardner said. “It really says something that we’re able to have this kind of center and provide these kinds of services and to show that there is a great need on this campus. We have this amazing foundation, amazing people, and fabulous services that we’re able to provide for our students.”
Gardner said she is very excited to be here and has already taken steps to increase the resources available to Texas A&M students. The GLBT Resource Center will be partnering with the Student Counseling Services to provide a therapeutic group for students who are questioning their sexual orientation or coming out. The center will also be providing discussion groups and bringing speakers to campus. Though Gardner is looking forward to these changes, she said her primary focus is to maintain the support and services previously offered to students.
“At this point, I just want to make sure that there is a seamless transition from the previous services that were offered and what we’re offering now,” Gardner said.
Student staff members expressed their anticipation of working more with Gardner. Madison O’Brien, a senior theatre arts and psychology major, said she appreciated Gardner’s attention to the old and the new.
“I’ve been very impressed with her attention to detail,” O’Brien said. “She’s been very observant about how our processes work and how we can change that to benefit the center and the community and the organizations. She’s focusing on the whole spectrum.”
Megan Caldwell, a junior in the school of rural public health, said she was very pleased with Gardner’s connection to the students.
“I’m really excited about the fact that Sidney is really engaged in the students,” Caldwell said. “She’s interacting with students on their level.”
Gardner said that for her, this is an occupation that gives her great joy in knowing she is making a difference in the lives of students.
“To give back, and to blaze a trail for students going forward was something that I wanted to be a part of,” Gardner said.