Formed on campus in 2017, the LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Collective serves as both a social identity group and a way to  promote positive change in the Muhlenberg community for its LGBTQ+ identifying members. Membership for the collective is open to all faculty, staff, graduate interns and those who support the objectives of the group.

Before One of the group’s founding members, Mark Smiley, assistant director of multicultural life, recognized the lack of community on campus for LGBTQ+ faculty and staff.

“When I came on board with the college in 2015, I noticed that while there were a number of visible and out queer faculty and staff, there didn’t appear to be a space for queer professionals to collectively advocate for our interests or concerns, or even to identify one another for relationship building or networking,” says Smiley.

While the collective’s primary purpose is to provide opportunities for socializing and advocacy, it fulfills different needs for each of its members.

“I joined the effort in the Fall 2018 semester because I thought it was important to create a greater sense of community for queer-identified faculty and staff on the Muhlenberg campus,” says Dr. Casey Miller, assistant professor of anthropology. “[It’s] also important to get the word out about what a diverse and queer group of faculty and staff we have here.”

Since this group is still in its growth stage, the biggest challenge that LGBTQ+ faculty and staff face at Muhlenberg is visibility on campus.

“There are a lot of queer-identified faculty and staff in our college community, but many students and other faculty and staff might not be aware of who we are,” observes Miller. “We are also spread out amongst various academic departments, programs and offices.”

This lack of visibility that LGBTQ+ faculty receive on campus makes this group’s mission increasingly relevant, especially as the community grows.

“Muhlenberg LGBTQ+ faculty and staff is growing,” notes Miller. “More queer-identified faculty and staff are coming to work at Muhlenberg every year, and it is our hope that the LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Collective will provide resources and a sense of community for those joining our ranks.”

Despite its growing presence on campus, the group serves primarily social purposes for now, with plans to focus on advocacy in the future.

“[It’s] primarily a social group right now—we hold a variety of social events, including a welcome-back potluck every fall and an end-of-the year barbecue every spring to give us a chance to meet and connect with one another,” says Miller. “But we also hope to play an advocacy role in terms of raising the profile and visibility of queer-identified faculty and staff in our community, and advocating for the interests and needs of queer-identified faculty and staff on campus.”

The group’s social events typically draw a decent crowd, with about 20 queer-identified faculty, staff and allies in attendance at the welcome back barbecue this year. Many of these attendees included those new to the Muhlenberg community, according to Miller. “It was a great way to kick off our new group and also to start the new academic year,” he adds.  

In the future, the group hopes to strengthen its voice and visibility on campus, as well as become more involved with other groups.

“Future plans include continuing to grow our community and our organization,” notes Miller. “Plans also involve holding monthly social events and gatherings, holding elections for leadership positions and increasing our collaboration with student-led organizations.”

Plans also include branching out to broaden the scope of their influence, creating a more accepting campus community and in turn advocating for others.

“Something of interest to the group is exploring how we might nurture and support other professional, identity-based groups that may emerge in the future,” says Smiley. “We see ourselves as a group interested in seeking justice and equity for professionals of all identities, with a specific support for queer professionals, and are interested in building coalition with other groups as they emerge.”


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