Although the University of Maine System announced in March that UMaine students would transition to remote learning, the Rainbow Resource Center (RRC) has continued to create content and provide support in order to stay accessible for all students through social media and the videoconferencing application Zoom.
The RRC describes themselves as a safe place on campus for students designed to be comfortable and inviting to all, regardless of gender or sexual identity.
The RRC is responsible for organizing and hosting events during Coming Out Week in the fall semester, Pride Week in the spring semester and organizing the annual drag show. In addition, the RRC works with community members of all genders and sexualities to provide training and resources on inclusive language, strategies for thoughtful allyship and creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ community members.
Rob Jackson, the staff associate for diversity and inclusion, serves as a full-time staff member and is responsible for the RRC. He also serves informally as a liaison between LGBTQ students at UMaine and Student Life leadership and faculty, in order to assure that LGBTQ students’ needs are met. Jackson works as an advocate and ally for students when they have concerns or suggestions for changes that could make the campus more equitable.
“As always, the RRC team is here to help if students find that they’re struggling to get in touch with the services and people they need,” Jackson said. “I will say that I’m immensely proud of the effort I’ve seen from staff members across the university to rapidly make their services and staff available remotely. I have been part of the UMaine family since I was in high school, and I can’t remember a time that I’ve seen us all pull together and work to support each other at this scale.”
Jane Pappas is a second-year student in the student development in higher education master’s program and the current graduate assistant for the Rainbow Resource Center.
“Our office has worked hard to make sure that as many of our resources as possible are moving remotely. While some things cannot move to an online format, we are working to digitize our educational trainings (such as the Safe Zone Training), as well as most of our programming,” Pappas said. “We are luckily still going to be hosting our annual Pride Week next week (from April 6th-11th), all online! In general, students can still reach out to us for support and community, and we are doing our best to make sure that everyone has what they need and are able to safely have access to a community that loves them.”
The RRC has made significant changes to the way they function to accommodate students in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the RRC is working to find supportive ways for students who may not be out to their families at home to still safely connect to others.