Queer Graduate Student Alliance hosts first meet and greet

Ryan Prokell

UT’s Queer Graduate Student Alliance hosted its first Meet and Greet at Gabriel’s Café on Tuesday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Established by several graduate students and staff members in April of this year, QGSA promotes community across the UT campus for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning graduate students and their allies. The QGSA is an agency of UT’s Graduate Student Assembly.

“QGSA was founded with the purpose of creating a community in which queer graduate students at UT could feel comfortable and welcome,” said Wills Brown, the president of GSA.

The alliance organizes social events and other relevant programming to provide graduate students with the opportunity to connect with members of the LGBTQ community outside of their colleges.  GSA is an advocate for graduate and professional student needs on the 40 Acres and serves as the official voice of UT graduate students.

 “It’s nice to have an umbrella organization to unify all the different graduate school LGBTQ organizations,” said Elizabeth Elsen, interim director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at UT. “The GSA does a great job overseeing this unification.”

Brown said the organization values the idea of a graduate school LGBT community and intends to push initiatives beneficial to this community while fostering discussion and dialogue both within and outside of the organization.

The group plans on bringing in outside speakers and hosting different meet and greet events this fall as it continues to grow and expand.

“It’s definitely going to be an organic organization,” Brown said. “We plan on trying different things this fall and figuring out what works with regard to scheduling and what doesn’t.”

Laura, a first-year law student, first heard of the organization earlier this week and plans on attending its hosted events this fall. 

“It’s nice to have a forum to meet and mingle with new people who are in a similar situation,” Laura said. “The QGSA provides a great way of meeting graduate students outside of your college.”

Pharmacy sophomore Karen Ayma said she is glad there’s an LGBT organization dedicated to providing graduate students additional resources which help them achieve
their goals.

“It’s so important to be able to network and connect with people who can understand the unique position of being queer in advanced academics, and I would love to learn more about the organization,” Ayma said.

This story has been edited since its initial publication. Wills Brown is president of the Graduate Student Assembly, not the Queer Graduate Student Alliance.