Taking Pride in GCC

Hoover Zariani speaks to El Vaquero about special initiatives on campus

Officially established in 2017, the GCC Pride Center provides a number of resources for the LGBTQ+ community. El Vaquero sat down with Hoover Zariani, the head of the Multicultural and Community Engagement Center at Glendale College, and they discussed some of the tools the Pride Center offers as well as how it can grow. 

The Pride Center hosts workshops open to faculty, students, and staff each semester. Some of the workshops include mentoring on the awareness and acceptance of transgender people, safe zone training, suicide awareness, as well as “prideful conversations” in which the students lead discussions about what they need to have a safer learning environment. While Pride month is typically in June, the Pride Center hosts their own Pride week in the first week of May every year as to not conflict with finals. This past Pride week, the Center hosted a drag show as well as a workshop on transgender allyship.

One of the problems that is preventing the Pride Center from doing more is a lack of funds. Because the program is so much newer than others on campus, it isn’t awarded the same resources as others. While similar programs that also help assist marginalized students on campus receive about $150,000 annually, the Pride Center was given a budget of $80,000 that was meant to last 5 years.

When asked about what other resources the Pride Center could provide potentially provide LGBTQ+ students, Zariani had a lengthy list of things that could improve the Center. He spoke on how as much as the Center benefits from student workers, they need a full-time staff member that is there to help students. Ideally, this person would also have mental health training, an area that is overlooked when making the budget because there isn’t room for it. While the Pride Center does hold sessions in which students can talk with a mental health professional in a group setting, it is not openly available whenever a student needs it nor is it intended to be a therapy group. 

Hoover Zariani would also like to be able to set aside money for students who want to host their own events on campus. He believes that student-led events could draw more attention to the Center and allow more students to access its resources. 

Zariani is also in the process of creating a grant petition so that students can be given emergency debit cards to help cover gas and groceries. It is not always safe for members of the LGBTQ+ community at home and even though the Center exists on the Glendale campus, he wants to be able to help students in any way that he can at home as well.

As of the Spring 2023 semester, a single scholarship existed exclusively for the benefit of queer and transgender students, the Pride Scholarship. That number is increasing to two in the Fall of 2023 with the introduction of the UGLA (Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance) Scholarship which will seek to provide queer students with more opportunities to further their education. 

 While the Pride Center as an institution is much newer to the Glendale campus, its possible outreach and potential should not be overlooked. There is a lot of intersectionality with other marginalized groups, whether it be women, people of color, people with disabilities, and more, it should be afforded the opportunity to grow and thrive as other programs have. By creating a safe, accepting, and easily accessible place on campus for the LGBTQ+ community, Glendale would be standing by its principle of creating a safe and healthy learning environment for all students, regardless of identity or background. 

For more resources regarding the UGLA (Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance), visit: https://ugla.org/ 

Maya-Claire Glenn can be reached at [email protected].