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The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Stonewall Resource Center celebrates 30 years of providing support

Magyar '17, Lily Galloway '17 and Takshil Sachdev '19 pose in front of the front page of The S&B from 30 years ago when the SRC was started. Photo by Jenny Dong.
Magyar ’17, Lily Galloway ’17 and Takshil Sachdev ’19 pose in front of the front page of The S&B from 30 years ago when the SRC was started. Photo by Jenny Dong.

On Feb. 11, 1986 Sara Croft ’87, a third year at the time, returned to her art exhibition in the Forum to find that her work had been vandalized.  The human figures Croft had crafted with wire were bent into sexually explicit positions and newspaper clippings on the AIDS epidemic were stripped down from their original positions and placed on top of the smashed sculptures.

In an article in The S&B the following week, Croft stated that she believed the vandalism was an act of homophobic violence. Among several reports of homophobic graffiti in Burling and the defacement of posters for queer groups on campus, the vandalism of Croft’s work incited protests in support of the gay community. Nearly 100 students rallied outside the office of the then Dean of Student Affairs, Jim Tederman, calling the administration to open a resource center as a safe meeting and educational space for Grinnell’s queer community.

In October of that same year, Grinnell opened its first Human/Gay Resource Center. Now 30 years later, the space known as the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) still proudly offers Grinnellians support groups, activities, educational tools and a strong sense of community.

Last week, the SRC celebrated its third decade of hard work through Queer Cultures Week, hosting Pub Quiz, an ice cream social, a clothing swap, a performance by the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus and Fall Drag Show.

SRC Outreach Coordinator Takshil Sachdev ’19 dubbed the events a success.

“I think overall the thirtieth was pretty good … We did our best in making sure that it was memorable,” said Sachdev. “[It] was a really important week in my life. It definitely defined some of my experiences here and I’m just glad that I got this opportunity.”

The SRC also partnered with the Department of Alumni Relations to invite several SRC Alumni, ranging from the class of 1988 all the way up to the class of 2015.

SRC Library and Space Coordinator Magyar ’17 said that the opportunity to meet with alumni not only provided opportunities for community building, but also important information about SRC history. 

“I have so much respect for the queer alumni,” they said.  “It was so great, getting to talk to them and hear what the SRC was like when they were here, especially because there is so little institutional memory … It’s nice to know that life as a queer person keeps going on after Grinnell and they have stories that are hilarious and that are interesting about their time at the SRC and … it was so nice to have that opportunity that you usually don’t get because … there’s no real archive.”

While the SRC has served the Grinnell community for many years, the visiting alumni provided new perspectives on how the SRC’s mission has changed and adapted to better meet the needs of students today.

“The SRC used to be much more focused on fighting homophobia on campus back in the 80s when you would have people postering homophobic messages openly across campus … to an extent that you maybe don’t see now,” Magyar said. “[Even] though homophobia is still … very much a problem that we deal with on campus today … I think the shape of that has changed as the climate in Grinnell and in the US has changed over time.”

Given the results of the recent election, Sachdev and Magyar expect to see the SRC’s focus continue to shift. Specifically, they intend to continue adapting their services to combat the increase in homophobia and homophobic violence in the days after Donald Trump’s election.

“In order for the SRC to accomplish its mission and to do that well, it needs to be a space that can serve not just the College, but the community as well … especially now, after the election,” Sachdev said.  “It could be so much more than it is now if it had a more welcoming and a more accessible and a more central space.”

According to Magyar, plans are underway to make the space more accessible.

“Making the SRC an accessible space is a big concern for us. We’ve been fighting for this for a long time … but those [plans] always seem to fall apart,” they said. “So we definitely want to continue fighting for that, especially this spring.”

Queer Cultures Week provided a space for students to keep their spirits high, even in times when national politics are not in line with the SRC. Sachdev said that he and many other students were not happy with the results of Nov. 8’s election.

“Obviously the election not turning out how [I] wanted it to on Wednesday dampened my spirits a little bit, but Queer Cultures Week … kept me going,” Sachdev said. “Having that support from returning alumni, from our current students and so much queer programming in one week definitely kept me grounded … and kept me happy.”

Three decades after the destruction of Sara Croft’s exhibition, Grinnell still faces challenges to the safety and comfort of its students. But the SRC continues to fight for equality and community for all Grinnellians. Trans Advocacy Group (TAG) is hosting a candlelight vigil for Trans Day of Remembrance on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. in the JRC courtyard

“I think it’s important, even if things look pretty blue, to keep fighting,” Magyar said. “And having a space for that is more important than ever.”


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