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    UA hires LGBTQ director

    Cathy Busha has been director of programming at Wingspan for nine years. Starting Nov. 13, she will be director of LGBTQ affairs at the UA.
    Cathy Busha has been director of programming at Wingspan for nine years. Starting Nov. 13, she will be director of LGBTQ affairs at the UA.

    One of the last schools in the Pacific 10 Conference to create an office devoted to gay and lesbian affairs, the UA announced development plans for the office last week and appointed a new director to the first paid position of its kind in Arizona.

    Cathy Busha, the current programming director of Wingspan, was named the new director of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning affairs and will begin duties Nov. 13.

    “”I think it really shows that the university is interested in being a leader in the state,”” Busha said. “”It’s perfect timing for the U of A.””

    There are currently 127 LGBTQ centers or directors working in universities across the country, Although the UA will be one of the last in the Pac-10 schools, it is the first in Arizona to get an official paid position, Busha said.

    Busha will receive $50,000 a year, according to Thursday’s Arizona Daily Star.

    “”The actual

    The ultimate goal is to create a safe campus for everyone – one that’s welcoming and actually really celebrates having a LGBTQ visible presence.

    -Cathy Busha,
    incoming UA director of LGBTQ affairs

    hiring of this position is a huge step in the right direction,”” said Rosie Reid-Correa, co-director of ASUA Pride Alliance and a geological engineering junior. “”Representation of marginalized groups is clearly happening on campus, so it’s a huge deal.””

    The LGBTQ Affairs office is a result of a recommendation from the LGBT advisory council to President Shelton.

    “”(Shelton) has a strong commitment to creating a diverse campus,”” Busha said. “”It’s through his work that this position was created.””

    “”The ultimate goal is to create a safe campus for everyone – one that’s welcoming and actually really celebrates having a LGBTQ visible presence,”” she said.

    One of Busha’s goals is to make the classroom environment more comfortable for LGBTQ students.

    “”Part of it will be working on how to work with faculty on how to create safe class environments so that people can come out if they choose to,”” Busha said. She also would like to see classrooms include same-sex couples as examples in discussions related to relationships.

    Busha hopes to lead a support system for LGBTQ faculty and staff that would encourage them to be open about their sexual preference.

    “”If you’re straight, you can very easily say ‘my husband,’ “” Busha said. “”But if you’re gay or lesbian it can be more complicated to say ‘my partner’ because you don’t know if in that moment you’re going to have students that don’t like you or are going to give you a bad evaluation.””

    People are more likely to come out if they feel supported, she said, adding, “”They’ll perform better in classes, and they’ll perform better as employees.””

    Busha said she plans to convene with the UA’s existing LGBTQ groups to get a sense of the campus climate and begin a plan for outreach and education.

    “”Initially I’ll just be learning from everyone about what they have been working on and then we’ll come up with a plan together to coordinate our efforts across campus,”” she said.

    Reid-Correa said she thinks Busha will get off to a productive start because of the number of campus groups ready and willing to serve as her “”teammates.””

    “”The foundation has been laid of all these people working together, so she can just come in and start getting the ball rolling,”” said Julianna Bradley, diversity initiatives director for ASUA Pride Alliance.

    Busha said she also seeks to create a LGBTQ center that would serve as a space for LGBTQ community members and straight allies to meet one another and volunteer, as well as a place to hold special events or club meetings.

    Busha said she hopes that LGBTQ information could one day be part of new-student orientation so incoming freshmen would have a support system from the beginning.

    “”Sometimes we’re invisible to one another,”” Busha said. “”It’s a place to find and connect with people.””

    ASUA Pride Alliance members hope that a center, under Busha’s leadership, would allow similar organizations – such as Students Promoting Respect and Individualism Through Example, OUTReach and Delta Lambda Phi – to work collectively, Reid-Correa said.

    “”It’s about bringing all the organizations together under the same roof and having them all cohesively working together,”” Bradley said.

    Michael Webb, an undeclared freshman and vice president of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men, said he thinks his organization would benefit from a LGBTQ center on campus.

    “”I think that could be a really great place for people to find the resources to find us,”” Webb said. “”To have one central location where we could all come together is probably the greatest thing that could happen to the gay community at the U of A.””

    For Reid-Correa, the most exciting part of the new office is to have a director who is committed to students.

    “”To have somebody that progressive, coming to a relatively progressive higher education institution like the university, it’s just the icing on the cake,”” she said.

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