Following the resignation of the previous Taylor Center Director of Gender and Sexuality, the Taylor Center hired Jessica P. Cameron, a Chicago native who previously worked for the University of Minnesota, to fill the role.
This marks a significant change, as the old director worked only with LGBTQ+ issues. Now, the role has been renamed to Associate Director of Multicultural, Gender and Sexuality in an attempt to address the numerous calls for St. Olaf to do more for social justice. Cameron emphasized that she was “looking forward to being able to do programming with regard to intersectionality,” something that the change would allow. She wants to serve not just queer students, but also multicultural, BIPOC, first generation, women and other Oles with diverse identities.
When asked about her plans to create a “new and improved” version of the position, Cameron wanted to build off of the previous work of the Taylor Center. “We have a great foundation with programming, we have a good understanding of who feels like they’re not being served,” she said. She also intends to “make sure that different spaces on campus are inclusive, advocating for policy and maybe curiculum changes as needed,” saying marginalized students have a real need for more spaces to safely be themselves.
Additionally, Cameron was excited that she “wouldn’t be working in a silo.” She could also help the broader campus community in learning more about embracing diversity, since “students shouldn’t have to also educate” other students all the time about their identities. So, the Taylor Center has been scheduling events meant to educate everyone about inclusivity. For example, a “Learning the Alphabet” event took place to teach LGBTQ+ vocabulary.
Regarding the news that St. Olaf will be remote through January, Cameron was hopeful that the Taylor Center will stay connected to students. She said, “We’ve been forced to think creatively … In higher education, we do things a lot the same forever.” She hopes that, for some students, online services might be more accessible. She has already been using a lot of social media to interact with the campus community. Follow @taylorcenter_olaf on Instagram for more news!