The Gender Resource and Advocacy Center (GRAC) has recently received new avenues of funding that have allowed the creation of multiple new programs and positions. One of these additions is a new student position: the LGBTQ+ Resource Coordinator. Oakley Fielder (‘22), who uses both they/them and he/him pronouns, is the first student to fulfill this position.
In 2018, the GRAC received a Campus Victim Services Outreach and Advocacy Project grant from the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ), Crime Victims and Survivors Services Division (CVSSD) and Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). This $174,413 grant created new programs, enhanced existing ones and notably allowed for the GRAC to become the physical space in Montag that it is today. However, as Director of the GRAC and Confidential Advocate Andrea Hugmeyer reported, there are restrictions on how the GRAC can utilize the grant money, and it largely had to be allocated to resources surrounding “victim response work.”
“Of course we could have resources and emphasis on LGBTQ+ students as survivors of violence, but it wasn’t enough,” said Hugmeyer.
At the beginning of the fall 2019 semester, Hugmeyer and Director of Multicultural Affairs Gordy Toyama moved from the Student Affairs department to the office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), therefore reporting to Jade Aguilar, vice president of EDI.
“This move will allow a more focused and strategic emphasis on our diversity and equity efforts, campus-wide,” wrote Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Whipple in an email announcing the change.
Hugmeyer reported that Aguilar advocated for University funds in order to enhance aspects of the GRAC that are outside of victim response resources. Once the GRAC secured this funding, its first priority was to create a student position that is devoted to supporting LGBTQ+ students, thus spurring the creation of the LGBTQ+ resource coordinator.
Since this role has only been active since the beginning of the semester, Fielder and Hugmeyer are in the process of fully realizing the projects and responsibilities of the position.
When asked about their goals for the job, Fielder said, “I really want to make LGBT students aware of the amount of resources that are available through the school.”
Fielder shared his own experience with using resources on campus to get connected to healthcare options: “I actually was able to start testosterone about four months ago through an organization that I found through the help of Bishop and through connections with the GRAC…
That organization has helped me transition, which is something that has helped me with my life in a lot of ways.” Fielder expressed wanting to help other trans students with healthcare options and support through the school that not everyone knows exists.
The GRAC has received a grant through the Community Action Fund for Equity and Sustainability Committee (CAFES) that will fund the purchase of chest binders for transmasculine and gender nonconforming students. Fielder is currently working on an application that will be available for students to fill out and apply to receive a binder.
Fielder will also be working on Willamette’s second Lavender Graduation, an event that celebrates graduating LGBTQ+ students. They will also help other student organizations, like Rainbow Alliance and QTPOC, with event planning and programming.
“If [students] need help finding any information on trans resources in the Willamette area, the Salem area or just help navigating spaces, I think my position and the focus of my position is to help connect students with people who can help them make progress in ways that uplift who they are,” said Fielder.
Speaking to the history of the GRAC and its multiple new resources, Hugmeyer said: “We created the [GRAC] as a way to bring a lot of common interests and activism together, but since we only had the grant money, I think we had to do heavy emphasis on advocacy center side of things, but now we are able to level up on the gender resource piece of it,” said Hugmeyer.