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1st appeared 14 July 1998

Michael Scarce First Coordinator of LGBT Resources

UCSF has joined the ranks of over 50 institutions of higher education that have established resource centers and programs for their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) students, staff and faculty.

A survey done a couple of years ago by the Chancellor's Committee on Diversity found that the incidence of homophobia occurred at UCSF at a significant enough rate to warrant attention. A result of that finding was the establishment of LGBT Resources on campus, to which former Chancellor Haile Debas gave the go-ahead in January; the program began operations on June 15 with the arrival of its first coordinator, Michael Scarce.

Michael ScarceThe role of LGBT coordinator was envisioned as a liaison, adviser and educator position, to teach people "about the effects of their behavior, the effects of homophobia and how it affects people in employment and academic positions," said Amy Levine, director of the Women's Resource Center. "There are a lot of existing organizations on campus doing really positive work and this position is not meant to take over any work that's been done but to build on it and coordinate those efforts."

The establishment of LGBT Resources is part of a restructuring of the Women's Resource Center, which will officially become The Center for Gender Equity on September 1.

Scarce is in the midst of planning LGBT Resources' first steps and is developing a resource library and making contacts throughout campus. He plans to hold sensitivity workshops to help foster a more welcoming environment for students, faculty and staff and to survey faculty on what, if any, lgbt content exists in their coursework or research.

"Slowly, institutions of higher education have realized that campuses have not been a very hospitable climate for lgbt faculty, staff and students. If only for the sake of basic retention, we need to do more," Scarce said. The mentoring program for students and faculty that he hopes to pilot should help, Scarce said.

"The mentoring program, I think, will be something of a draw. Many students, especially, will have some professional concerns about how their sexual identity might affect academic evaluations, professional prospects, and career paths. Even if we can't provide them with all of the answers or immediate advising that they need, hopefully we can direct them to someone who can."

Some might question the rationale behind creating such a resource center on campus, thinking it unnecessary in a city such as San Francisco or too narrow in its focus.

Scarce sees the center's legitimacy in terms of fulfilling UCSF's academic mission and creating an equitable climate for the entire UCSF community. It is also especially relevant to a community of health care professionals, Scarce said.

"Part of the reality of this campus is that, being a health sciences campus, our mission is to provide services to people," he said. "Future health care workers typically are not going to have a choice of whom they are or are not going to serve. We need to prepare our students for working with lgbt people and issues."

Scarce comes to UCSF via Ohio State University, where he was coordinator of the rape prevention program and was formerly the coordinator for the AIDS education and outreach program.

"Being able to do lgbt work in a professional capacity while still working in an institution of higher education was just ideal," said Scarce about his decision to move to San Francisco for the job. The position is not full-time but 60%, which gives Scarce free time to work on his writing -- he's an author of books and journal articles on the themes of same-sex sexuality.

UCSF is not the first UC campus to have an LGBT Resources program -- in fact, Santa Cruz, Riverside, Los Angeles, Irvine and Davis all have centers; however, not all are staffed by paid professionals.

"More and more frequently, whether it's in the Chronicle of Higher Education or on the Internet, you see these new positions being created -- it's definitely a national trend," Scarce said. "There's a great deal of symbolic importance -- the University is saying that not only do we think these issues are important but we're actually willing to dedicate some resources to create change. I would make the argument that our program will not solely serve lgbt people but will serve everyone in some ways. People of all sexual and gender identities will benefit from the education, outreach and programming that we'll be doing."

LGBT Resources, part of The Center for Gender Equity, is located in the Woods Building on the Parnassus campus.

Links:

Directory of LGBT Campus Resource Centers

Lesbian Bisexual Gay Scholars website

UCSF Women's Resource Center

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