Interview with Erin Edgington, Ph.D.
I couldn’t have a queer-in-Reno brand, originating out of my University of Nevada, Reno personal branding class taught by Angela Rudolph without discussing the resources for the LGBTQ community on the UNR campus.
This week, I had the opportunity to talk to Erin Edgington, Ph.D., and chair-elect of QLAB, the Queer and LGBT Advocacy Board. She is one of the 6 chairs of QLAB.
According to the organization’s website, QLAB is comprised of out and allied faculty and staff and it makes ongoing assessment of attitudes and conditions throughout the University regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and Queer persons and issues.
Erin explained that QLAB started only just a few years ago as a task force. One of their primary objectives was to make sure that bathrooms were available for transgender people on campus.
QLAB is mostly for staff and faculty. They do liaise with the students organizations. Many of the members act as faculty advisors for the student organizations.
They hold monthly meetings (or so) while in class and hold social events as well. Erin sees their main purpose is for advocacy and social events. They do perform many valuable services at UNR. They have an active core group of 8-10 UNR faculty and staff memebers, and then another few dozen who attend their events throughout the year.
The main service of QLAB is safe zone and allyship trainings. They have ten to twenty requests for training every semester. Many trainings had been over Zoom in the last two years, which were successful with some adjustments.
QLAB maintains a few subcommittees, including one devoted to helping with these trainings. They also have a subcommittee on communication, which helps to provide information about the organization and events and their UNR LGBTQIA+ Resource Guide.
QLAB has traditionally participated in the Unity Graduation ceremony, including the Lavender Graduation. They hosted a DJ on screen this past year for the event on Zoom. QLAB helps the Associated Student Union of Nevada, or ASUN through donations and time. The organization contributes and shows up where it can and also tries to hold some of its own events. QLAB tries to amplify the voices of the LGBTQ students at UNR.
Erin said that one of the things she wants people to know about QLAB is that they are here. She said that affinity groups like QLAB are not a part of the faculty onboarding process, and most new faculty and staff don’t know about QLAB until they receive a survey at the end of the year. She also wants people to know that, though QLAB is centered at UNR, they are not a student group.
Another important service piece that QLAB provides is the UNR LGBTQIA+ Resource Guide. QLAB works hard to keep the guide current. They saw a need with a fragmented Northern Nevada LGBT community. They saw other affinity groups compiling similar resource packages and decided to put one together themselves.
When I asked Erin what event or part of QLAB she was most proud of, she told me about a career panel that QLAB held with Edible, the local food magazine. The speakers talked about their professions and it was an opportunity for 50 students or so to learn about different careers. It also fit the University’s career-readiness objectives.
As I delve more into the student resources at UNR for the LGBTQ community, I look forward to crossing paths with QLAB. If you know someone who might be interested, please forward the Resource Guide to them. And please take a look at it. It has a lot of really great information.