Penn State's LGBTQA Student Resource Center is growing, and it might move into the Robeson Gallery space.
The Robeson Gallery, which hosts art exhibits throughout the year, is part of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, located in the HUB.
"The LGBTQA Student Resource Center embodies a rich history of student-led advocacy, education, and support for sexual and gender diversity across Penn State, while The Paul Robeson Cultural Center endeavors to create a community of practice dedicated to fostering character, conscience, and social responsibility through racial justice, diversity, and inclusion," Brian Patchcoski, director of Penn State's LGBTQA Student Resource Center, said in an email. "As these structures have grown in practice and engagement, so has the need for us to think critically about our shared narratives and dedication toward cultural change at Penn State."
The confluence of a Student Affairs divisional restructuring and the need for new space for the LGBTQA Student Resource Center led to conversations among colleagues and student leaders about the possibility of moving the LGBTQA center office from Boucke Building into the HUB, he said. Through these conversations, it was recognized that doing so would bring together the cultural and LGBTQA centers, "two important units that advance diversity and inclusion," together.
Additionally, it would put the LGBTQA center in a larger, more "student-focused, vibrant" location, Patchcoski said.
He said the potential for a strengthened partnership between the cultural and LGBTQA centers would allow integration of diversity, inclusion and equity throughout the entire student experience.
"While there's considerable interest in expanding and improving upon the space limitations currently faced by the LGBTQA Student Resource Center, discussions related to a possible move to the HUB continue, and those discussions remain in a very early planning phase," Patchcoski said.
Some in the art community would like to see the gallery remain as it is, though.
"For nearly 30 years, the Robeson Gallery has promoted diversity and inclusion through multicultural arts exhibitions and related programming for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the public. The planned closing of the Robeson Gallery will negatively impact arts outreach to local and global communities and will have a bearing on the out-of-classroom arts experiences of Penn State students," Ann Shields, former director of the HUB-Robeson Galleries, wrote in a CDT op-ed.
Shields wrote that there's room enough in the HUB for both the LGBTQA Resource Center and the Robeson Gallery. She suggested leaving the Robeson Gallery in its space and offering the LGBTQA Student Resource Center another area within the HUB with "high visibility."
"This could be a win-win situation," she wrote.
The potential relocation of LGBTQA services to the HUB would close the Robeson Gallery space as it is now, but Patchcoski said "we firmly believe that new and exciting partnerships with the arts will only enhance our dedication toward honoring history, culture, and innovation and we believe we can work strategically to tell the stories of those who have been and continue to be silenced in creative ways."
Patchcoski said Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims has dedicated additional funding toward Art on the Move — an extension of the HUB-Robeson Galleries that features small exhibits that rotate through high-traffic areas on campus.