Queer and Trans Student Initiatives
At Roger Williams, we work with and support students to raise awareness and acceptance of the various communities that make up our larger queer and trans community (for example; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, or questioning communities). Through the Intercultural Center (IC) we offer a direct resource area for all members of the queer and trans communities and their allies. The office is a key component in implementing RWU's examination of our global society.
Roger Williams University is committed to ensuring our queer and trans students, faculty, staff, and administrators are protected on campus. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are included in our University Non-Discrimination Policy.
Roger Williams' efforts to support our queer and trans student are lead by the Assistant Director for Queer and Trans Student Initiatives, Gabby Porcaro (she/her/hers), M.A.Ed. (pictured above). Gabby joined the RWU community in August, 2017 and has worked to apply a "trickle up social justice" approach to all of her work.
Roger Williams, with leadership from Gabby Porcaro, seeks to create a safe and affirming campus environment for our queer and trans communities through:
- Creating a welcoming environment for all people interested in developing their understanding of queer and trans issues
- Helping students to build communities of care, inclusion, support and trust
- Recognizing and exploring the ability, age, ethnicity, gender, health, language, national origin, race, religion and socioeconomic differences in the queer and trans student population
- Celebrating how differences in the queer and trans student population can enrich campus and local communities
- Providing direct service to queer and trans students and their allies in the forms of advising, advocacy, referral, education and training, event sponsorship and co-sponsorship and leadership development
- Providing resources to faculty, staff, University offices and others interested in ensuring that their services are inclusive and supportive of queer and trans issues
- Conducting on-going needs assessment, campus climate assessments and regular evaluations of the Office and its services
The Queer and Trans Resource and Advocacy Center (QTRAC) is located in the heart of RWU's campus, adjacent to the 9, 10, 11 Tower of Maple Hall. The QTRAC houses our LGBTQIAP+ student organization, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), our student-led Trans Affinity Group (TAG), and two clubs that are committed to various issues facing womyn in the world, FEM Society and the Women's Collective.
As an extension of Roger Williams University’s Intercultural Center, the QTRAC serves as the central hub for individual students, student clubs, and University organizations that are dedicated to advancing gender equity and undoing heteronormativity on and off campus though programming, support, and co-curricular projects.
What's in the QTRAC?
The QTRAC has a library filled with books and DVDs that center queer and trans lives. The resources range from young adult novels, graphic novels, research texts, classic novels, autobiographies, documentairs, and feature films that explore the vast lived experiences of queer and trans folks. Many of the books and movies in the library center the narratives of queer and trans communities of color. You can access our check out form here. Stop by today to see what we have!
The QTRAC also has a kitchenette with a full-sized fridge and freezer, a microwave, a filtered water system, and a Keurig. We keep is stocked with tea, coffee, and hot chocolate all times of the year! The QTRAC also has a beautiful lounge space (pictured above) where students are constantly doing homework, laughing with one another, and building community.
Who's in the QTRAC?
The Assistant Director of Queer and Trans Student Initiatives,Gabby Porcaro's (she/her/hers), office is located in the QTRAC. You can reach Gabby at email@example.com or 401-254-3591.
You can also find our team of QTRAC Student Workers in the space Mondays-Fridays, 8:00am-4:00pm. Our student workers all receive Federal Work Study and help us in creating a beautiful community. If you are interested in learning more about how to join our student worker team, please make sure to complete your FAFSA to see if you are eligible to receive Federal Work Study. If you are eligible, reach out to Gabby to apply for a position in the QTRAC today.
Hours of Operation
The QTRAC is open to the entire campus community Mondays-Fridays, 8:00am-4:00pm. In order to access the space, each individual must have a valid RWU ID to unlock the door. The student leaders who work with the clubs and organizations SAGA, FEM Society, and the Women's Collective have extended access to the space on nights and weekends in order to host their general body meetings and executive board meetings and also to allow for event planning community building.
Opportunities for Virtual Connection, Community Building, and Education
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to ensuring that our community has the chance to connect with one another, support one another, and learn from and with one another. This year, our QTRAC Work Study Student Team is committed to providing virtual community building and educational resources for folks. Please be sure to follow our Instagram, @rwu_qtrac for updates about virtual events, Minecraft servers, and education about various issues impacting the queer and trans communities.
Additionally, we have launched out own private Discord site. Discord is an online free voice and text chat platform that is used for many purposes. It was originally used by people who played video games. Over time, it became popular among folks for keeping in contact with friends and family. With the addition of video calls it’s now becoming even more useful for students, gamers and businesses.
The QTRAC Discord channel is intended to allow students at RWU who previously came to the QTRAC to hang out with friends between classes or for our programs and educational opportunities, to have a virtual space where this can still happen! If students would like to join the Discord, please first click here to learn more about Discord and to create your own profile. Then, please email Gabby (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be added to our private community site.
Due to physical distancing requirements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the QTRAC physical space is closed to all students, faculty, and staff for meetings, events, and gathers.
Please see the Roger Williams COVID-19 site for all updated information about all aspects of campus life.
Please click here to be redirected to the site where you can find step-by-step instructions on how to update your chosen name and pronouns.
Roger Williams University recognizes that some current members of the campus community may prefer to identify themselves by a first name other than their legal first name. For this reason, the University provides students with an opportunity to use a “Chosen Name” where possible in the course of University business and education.
Under Roger Williams University’s Chosen Name Policy, students may designate a chosen or preferred first name in addition to the legal name. Students may request the use of a chosen name online via RogerCentral. In some instances, the University is legally required to use Legal Names. Such instances include but are not limited to official transcripts, enrollment/degree verifications, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), tax documents, payroll documents and immigration documents. However, whenever reasonably possible the University will use Chosen Names.
The University reserves the right to remove a chosen name or deny the usage of a chosen name if the University determines at any time that it is inappropriate in nature.
Chosen names used as misrepresentation or fraud will be handled pursuant to University policies and procedures and may result in disciplinary action and/or referral to law enforcement.
This mentor program matches undergraduate students with members of our faculty and staff who identify as queer or trans people. We believe in the power of forming connections with individuals who have a shared or similar identity as one that is salient to us, particularly in developing a sense of belonging within a new community.
Mentors and mentees can meet as frequently as both individuals deem necessary. Additionally, there will be three all program socials throughout the Fall 2019 semester so you can meet other mentors/mentees and continue to build connections here at Roger. We ask our mentees to commit to being involved with the program for one academic year.
The Safe Zone Program is designed to educate administrators, staff, faculty, and students about the experiences and concerns of queer and trans members of our community as well as provide tools for creating supportive environments for queer and trans people.
Click here to learn more about the Safe Zone program at RWU or to register for a training!
The Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) is a student organization comprised of queer and trans identified students and their allies that is dedicated to promoting a better understanding of and awareness for queer and trans issues on and off campus. SAGA hosts a number of events throughout the academic year including RWU Coming Out Week, Trans Week of Remembrance, World AIDS Day Drag Bingo, and Pride Week. If you are interested in learning more about the club or getting involved with SAGA, please contact the executive board at email@example.com or click here.
The Trans Affinity Group (TAG) is a student coordinated support group on campus. The students meet once a week to build community and join in fellowship with one another. The students also have outings off campus periodically throughout the academic year. To learn more about TAG, please contact the TAG coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEM Society is a student club that works to promote social justice through an intersectional feminist lens. Some of Fem Society's work on campus has been petitioning for menstrual hygiene products to be available in all restrooms on campus, including gender neutral and men's restrooms. They also work in conjunction with off campus agencies that are empowering all womyn.
The Women's Collective works to provide education about sexual violence on campus. The work to ensure that our education includes queer and trans individuals in our efforts to eliminate sexual violence from our world.
In May 2018, the Intercultural Center hosted Roger Williams' inaugural Lavender Graduation. Lavender Graduations happen at universities throughout the country and serve as an inspiring and affirming way for us to celebrate the successes of our queer and trans students. This event creates space for our LGBTQ+ students, their families, and their friends to gather one last time and to reflect on their growth throughout their time here at Roger. To learn more about the first ceremony at RWU, please click here!
Our second annual ceremony, featured in the video above, was held May 8, 2019. Friends and family celebrated 18 graduating students from RWU's Queer and Trans community.
At Roger Williams, we are constantly working to ensure that our trans students are provided safe and equitable living and learning experiences. Our University Non-Discrimination policy includes protecting individuals who are discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity, sexuality, and romantic identity. You can read more about the University Non-Discrimination Policy here. If you or a member of your community experiences or witnesses a biased incident, please complete the anonymous Bias Incident Report here. You can learn more about our University biased incident response here.
The Department of Residence Life and Housing will work with each individual trans student to ensure they are assigned housing that is affirming of their gender identity and safe. Any student can elect to live in Gender Inclusive Housing at Roger Williams by completing the this form. Gender Inclusive housing is a wonderful option for any individual but, it particularly protects our queer and trans students to ensure they are placed in an affirming living situation. Please click here to learn more about Gender Inclusive Housing at Roger Williams.
We also offer two different themed communities for our queer and trans students; one exclusively for first year students and one exclusive for returning students. These two communities allow students to create systems of support in and out of the classroom and help to provide a comfortable and inclusive living space for our queer and trans students. If you have any concerns or questions about on campus housing as a queer or trans person, please reach out to Gabby Porcaro at email@example.com.
In addition to our on campus housing, we also want to ensure that our students have a equitable access to safe bathrooms. Click here to see our campus map of all gender restrooms.
Scholarship awards, advocacy groups, and professional networks that are making college more affordable and inclusive for the queer and trans communities
Many organizations and foundations offer scholarship awards specifically for queer and trans students to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual students have an equal opportunity to pursue higher education. Queer and trans students can benefit greatly from organizations who provide financial assistance, advocate for queer and trans rights, and offer networking opportunities.
Queer and Trans Student Scholarships
Organizations such as the Point Foundation offer scholarships for students who identify as queer and/or trans who attend both two-year and four-year institutions. Additionally, Campus Pride maintains a database of independent and institutional scholarships for LGBTQ+ students.
Additional scholarships for queer and trans students students and/or allies can be found below:
Frequently Asked Questions About Navigating Financial Aid as a Queer and/or Trans Student
As queer and trans students navigate the college process - from filling out applications to seeking financial aid to experiencing campus life - there are many questions that can come up surrounding identity, privacy, safety and family. The questions below are some of the most frequently asked by queer and trans students as they apply for college and scholarships. Take a look to get answers and tips to help navigate the process.
Can scholarship organizations discriminate against me because I am queer or trans?
Fast Answer: yes
Federal scholarships such as the Pell grant do not discriminate against queer and trans students, but private scholarship foundations and organizations may choose not to award funds to queer and trans students. However, do not let this discourage you as there are many rising organizations who advocate for queer and trans rights and provide financial assistance to queer and trans students.
I am the child of a same-sex couple, what kind of financial aid benefits can I receive?
Fast Answer: private scholarships
Some organizations offer scholarships for students who are queer and trans or have parents in the in the community. The Audria M. Edwards Scholarship Fundand the Joseph Towner Fund for Gay and Lesbian Familiesare two examples, and the organization COLAGEis a potential resource for connecting students who have queer or trans parents with mentors to help guide them through the process of applying for scholarships.
Where should I look on campus for Queer and Trans community resources?
Fast Answer: the Queer and Trans Resource and Advocacy Center ( QTRAC) and the student organization, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA)
At Roger Williams, we work with and support students to raise awareness and acceptance of the various communities that make up our larger queer and trans community (for example; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, or questioning communities). Through the QTRAC, we offer a direct resource area for all members of the queer and trans communities and their allies. The office is a key component in implementing RWU's examination of our global society.
The Queer and Trans Resource and Advocacy Center (QTRAC) is located in the heart of RWU's campus, adjacent to the 9, 10, 11 Tower of Maple Hall. The QTRAC houses our LGBTQIAP+ student organization, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), our student-led Trans Affinity Group (TAG), and two clubs that are committed to various issues facing women in the world, FEM Society and the Women's Collective.
Roger Williams' efforts to support our queer and trans student are led by the Assistant Director for Queer and Trans Student Initiatives, Gabby Porcaro (she/her/hers), M.A.Ed.
There are many resources that promote diversity in schools by funding queer and trans students, but what if a student has not come out to their family?
If you want to apply for queer and trans specific scholarships and financial aid without letting your family know, here are a few ideas to maintain your confidentiality while still receiving the funds you need to attend your ideal college.
What do I put in the “Gender/Sex” category on my application?
Fast Answer: what you are comfortable disclosing
The “Common Application” only offers two gender identities for students to choose from— ‘male’ or ‘female’ - answers to this question are required to be kept confidential. RWU permits students to change their pronouns and gender identities on campus records during their academic careers if those identities change over time, or allow students to use a first name different from their legal name in class or on certain records. A student accepted into college can contact their professors ahead of time to clarify the correct pronouns to use in class.
Exercise your right to educational privacy under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act(FERPA).
This federal law protects the privacy of student educational records, including financial aid and scholarship information. Once a student turns 18 years old, parents do not have access to these records unless the student grants permission.
When I came out, my parents disowned me. Can I apply for financial aid as an independent?
Fast Answer: yes and no
Young adults are legally considered “dependents” of their families until they turn 24, and it can be difficult to go through the process of emancipation. Instead, disowned queer and trans students can indicate on their FAFSAs that they are “homeless” or “at risk of homelessness” and request to change their status to “independent.”
On Campus Resources
We are deeply passionate about supporting the holistic health of our queer and trans students during their time on our campus. Both our Health Services team and our Counseling Center team at Roger have completed the University's Safe Zone training. Please click here to learn about Health Services initiatives and here to learn more about the Counseling Center.
Off Campus Help Hotlines
The hotlines listed below provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention assistance for queer and trans communities. Please do not be afraid to use these resources yourself or to share them with someone who you think needs them:
Rhode Island is home to many incredible agencies, organizations, non-profits, and business that provide direct services to the queer and trans communities. These agencies work to address concerns such as access to mental health care, access to physical health care, access to hormones, sexual health screenings, legal name and gender marker changes, and many more. There are also organizations whose sole purpose is to help queer and trans folks build community with one another! Below are some of the agencies we are directly connected to:
- Zencare - a user friendly platform that helps you find a therapist in the area.
- Thundermist Health Center - a community health center with a specific focus on trans health care.
- Do it Right Clinic - a community health clinic through the Miriam Hospital that specializes in STD preventive care at free to little cost to the patients. The Institute also provides free to low-cost STD screenings.
- The Gender Clinic @ CNE Primary Care - a clinic to provide trans affirming health care to folks of all ages.
- The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health - exactly what it sounds like! A community resource to help ensure you and your partners have safe and pleasure-centered experiences.
- RI Legal Services - a legal service that looks into instances of discrimination against individuals of a low socioeconomic status. Their newest legal clinic focuses specifically on queer and trans people.
- AIDS Project of Rhode Island - a direct provider of STI screenings as well as a wonderful community agency doing important activist work.
- TGI Network of RI - a support and community building agency for trans folks, gender non-conforming folks, and intersex folks.
- Butler Hospital - the True Self outpatient program works with queer and trans folks to address their mental health concerns in an affirming way.
- Project Fearless - a community agency that provides financial support for queer and trans folks seeking mental health care. They also provide community building opportunities and are a great community activist group!
- AS220 - a social justice organization that works to create a more just world through the arts.
- Black and Pink - a community activist organization that works to defend queer and trans folks in our criminal justice system. They are also focused on prison abolition for all communities.
The following list outlines national agencies that work to protect and affirm out queer and trans communities in a variety of ways:
If you experience any type of financial, mental, or emotional hardship, the professional staff within the QTRAC and the IC are equipped to help you. Staff can help students access emergency resources related to mental health care, financial planing, housing, any many other resources. If you need assistance, please connect with Gabby Porcaro (she/her/hers), the Assistant Director of Queer and Trans Student Initiatives, firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Zoila Quezada (she/her/hers), the Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, email@example.com.
You can also visit the Division of Student Life's Financial Well Being site for Information on additional financial resources.