Pitt Hosts Town Hall on What Comes Next: A Conversation About Pitt’s Commitment to LGBTQIA+ Faculty, Staff and Students

The Cathedral of Learning behind flowers

This summer, the University of Pittsburgh was named a Best College for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) students by Best Colleges in partnership with Campus Pride. To reflect on this recognition, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and Pitt Queer Professionals (PQP) hosted a town hall conversation for the Pitt community to discuss the progress the University has made to be more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ faculty, staff and students—and what the needs to be done to make Pitt more supportive of its LGBTQIA+ community.

The event was an installment of Pitt’s running town hall series “This Is Not ‘Normal’: Allyship an Advocacy in the Age of COVID-19.” 

The conversation was moderated by Katie Pope, associate vice chancellor for civil rights and Title IX, and featured the following panelists:

  • anupama jain—executive director, Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission
  • Anais Peterson—former executive vice president of the Pitt Student Government Board
  • Darren Whitfield—assistant professor, School of Social Work
  • Kristen L. Eckstrand—clinical assistant professor, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, and postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry
  • Neerja Garikipati—AQUARIUS vice president
  • Nick Marsellas—PhD candidate, teaching fellow and assistant director of the Teaching Assistant Training Program, Department of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
  • Stephen Gilson—associate legal counsel, Office of University Counsel

The panelists provided suggestions for recognizing and compensating students, faculty and staff who do LGBTQIA+ advocacy work that’s outside of their job description, and the desire to create a dedicated space or center for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff—along with its own designated staff member.

The panelists also talked about bringing systematic attention to some of the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ population and about making University’s non-discrimination policy more transparent.