Last semester, the University of Massachusetts Stonewall Center’s Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender [GLBT] Lunch Lecture Series featured speakers such as University of Southern Maine English Professor Lisa Walker, historian Les Wright, and Concordia University Communication Studies Professor Chantal Nadeau. These speakers lectured on topics like same-sex marriage, gay adoption rights, racial issues within the GLBT community, and international gay liberation movements.
This semester, there will be no speakers. The LGBT Lunch Lecture Series has been cancelled.
The Series is one of many casualties of the recent UMass budget cuts. The Stonewall Center canceled the Series after receiving a 20 percent slash in funding.
“The academic validity that the lecture series presented is no longer present,” said Stephen Pereira, Assistant Director of the Stonewall Center. “I feel that the queer voice on campus is being lessened. But we’ve tried to preserve as much as possible.”
In addition to the Lecture Series, the Center has had to eliminate a graduate position in cultural and educational programming. Last semester, as the result of previous budget cuts, BLATANT, the Stonewall Center newsletter, fell by the wayside.
The Stonewall Center is hardly the only University student support center that has been forced to streamline its budget. The Everywoman’s Center has endured a similar cut in funds.
“We made a decision to re-structure,” said Carol Wallace, Director of the Center. “We’ve managed to absorb the cuts without having to sacrifice any particular services.
“But,” she continued, “we have a new organizational structure as a result. We’ve re-written the description of almost every position.”
Wallace added that, at the end of the year, the Center will two fewer operating positions than it has had in the past.
The Office of ALANA Affairs, which is funded by the Student Government Association’s Student Activities Trust Fund, has not been directly affected the cuts.
But Shelley Perdomo, the Office’s Assistant Director, still worries about the effect that the cuts will have on students of color. She says that suggestions have been made to consolidate the programs for minority students that are offered by Academic Support Services, such as the Bilingual Collegiate Program, and Native American Student Support Services.
“I’m really nervous about what’s going to happen to diversity on campus,” Perdomo said. She added that, with the proposed “second round” of budget cuts pending, it is possible that the SGA’s funding for the ALANA Office would decrease.
Employees of the Stonewall Center, the Office of ALANA Affairs, and the Everywoman’s Center are also aware that the most recent budget reductions are not likely to be the last.
“We were told to expect more cuts,” Pereira said. “It’s quite a shame.”
Wallace shared Pereira’s sentiments. The Everywoman’s Center, she said, has already begun to factor upcoming losses into its future budgets.
“The picture sounds pretty gloomy,” she added. “We’re not particularly optimistic.”