Southern Oregon University has a new Queer Resource Center (QRC) coordinator.
Thomas Arce, M.Ed, whose pronouns are he/him/his and they/them/theirs has been in his position for roughly a month now. Thomas is from Gary, Indiana and attended the University of Iowa for his undergraduate studies in political science and has a Master’s of Education from Iowa State University in Higher Education & Student Affairs.
But he’s no outsider, before Thomas was in the QRC, for a period of a year and a half he was already calling Southern Oregon University his home. Working in University Housing as an Area Coordinator. He oversaw Greensprings and McLoughlin Halls in his time with University Housing. He also developed student leaders in the area councils through the halls and oversaw the social media and marketing assistant.
Thomas was one of three final candidates who were invited for on campus interviews and ultimately was offered the coordinator position. “Knowing Thomas’ educational background and drive for social justice and being so oriented for change, makes me feel great knowing he is there” says janelle wilson Associate Director of Student Life for Social Justice and Service, who also served in the position of QRC coordinator for ten years.
wilson, who prefers all lower case letters in her name, now oversees all of the resource centers in her new position. She says some really important history is being made at the center with Thomas as he is the first queer man of color to work in this position.
The center does not have a long history. It is only 13 years old, but in the last 3 years Southern Oregon University has been ranked by Campus Pride, a national online community and resource network, as a “Top 25 Most LGBTQ-Friendly Campus”. SOU joins schools such as Stanford University and Princeton in the top 25.
In the young years of the center, janelle describes huge resistance and some acts of backlash and threats to involved parties with the center. Present day, the culture is changing, “I’d never could imagine seeing pronouns on business cards” says janelle. In a month’s time also, if you look on the back of Thomas’ business card, he has the notorious rainbow hawk instead of the traditional hawk. “It’s a humbling experience.”
In his new position he will become one of three new confidential advocates at SOU and will also lead ally training on behalf of the QRC. Thomas says, “If students ever want to talk, my door is open visit the Queer Resource Center and say hello” Thomas adds, “I want students to know I really am here for the welfare of student development and success.”
Being a huge Adele and Troye Sivan fan, Thomas values quotes and he shares with the readers of the Siskiyou a quote from, Audre Lorde, he finds most impactful in his life and everyday work, “Without community, there is no liberation.”
If anyone would like more information about the center or want to know how to get involved, there email is QRC@sou.edu, they are also on facebook, SOU QRC and also on SOU Connect.