Posted July 2023
Katy Collins is the Director of Student Outreach and Engagement for Boston University’s Dean of Students. Responsible for creating an environment where students of all identities are welcomed, we spoke with Katy about her role and BU’s upcoming LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center.
Can you tell us about your position as the Director of Student Outreach and Engagement?
As the Director of Student Outreach and Engagement, my primary goal is to help students find a sense of belonging and equip them with the tools necessary to find community wherever they find themselves at BU. This is primarily accomplished through programming, individual outreach, and collaboration with partners across campus.
How do you work to help support students who identify as part of under-represented groups?
Collaborations have been central to my work in helping support students both because I am a one-person department and because—as a white, cis queer woman—there are plenty of reasons why some students might be wary of working with me. As a result, I work to build relationships with partners that allow me to offer support in ways that are easily adaptable and address issues on both an individual and systemic level. I also present to staff and students on DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) topics and have developed programming that honors and uplifts the LGBTQIA+ community. For the past four years, I have also taught a HUB course entitled “Belonging On Campus,” which examines a different social identity each week and allows students to share their stories.
What resources currently exist for BU’s LGBTQIA+ students?
Last year, I compiled a list of resources to create a resource page on the Dean of Students website, including gender-inclusive bathroom maps for the Charles River Campus and Medical Campus, the BU Out List, and student organizations. It also includes access to information regarding the gender-affirming care provided at Student Health Services and resources for parents and families of LGBTQIA+ students.
What is BU’s Out List?
BU’s Out List was a collaboration between the BU LGTBQIA+ Faculty & Staff Community Network and Q—the Queer Activist Collective. It is a university-wide resource that highlights BU faculty and staff who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those willing to be a source of support for our students.
How do student groups help create a more inclusive environment on campus?
Student groups create inclusive environments by providing opportunities to socialize and learn about and from one another outside the classroom. While these spaces offer learning opportunities, they are also spaces where students can simply be themselves—where they don’t have to explain their identity or why they identify in a particular way.
How might the new LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center expand the resources that already exist on campus?
A centralized, visible, well-resourced center can provide more comprehensive services and programming than are currently available. I am very much looking forward to seeing how this center works with both the Howard Thurman Center and the LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Center to support and amplify all of the voices of the LGBTQIA+ student community. I am particularly excited that students will now be able to choose to create programming if they so desire but do not have to feel the pressure of being the only ones doing such work.
Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to share with the BU alumni community?
In collaboration with my colleagues at the LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Center, we have created an LGBTQIA+ Programming Committee. This university-wide committee will meet regularly to ascertain how the BU community will celebrate and honor different commemorations and days. This committee will allow us to break down silos and amplify one another’s efforts.
How can the BU community, specifically alumni and parents, support the LGBTQIA+ community on campus?
In the upcoming months, we’ll share news about opportunities to provide fiscal support for the LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center. As the Center gets up to speed, your support will help to ensure its continued success.
Finally, we all must support our queer and trans students on campus. It would be a mistake to imagine that any place is immune to ignorance, and we can all do our part to foster a sense of belonging for the LGBTQIA+ community at BU.
For more information on the Boston University Dean of Students Office, visit their website here.