One of the factors that helped attract Brandon Beaulieu to University of Wisconsin-Stout was the Qube, a space for LGBTQIA+ students and their allies.
It was important to Beaulieu, a junior psychology major, that the university he attended had a space for lesbian, gay, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, asexual/aromantic and other students to connect in the community, learn and find needed resources. Beaulieu is the Stout Student Association director for Diversity and Inclusivity.
The Qube, which has been on campus five years, recently had a new, larger space built in Merle M. Price Commons. A grand opening is planned from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 5. All are welcome, and refreshments will be served.
The Qube now has about 890 square feet, including Qube Program Coordinator Julie Miller’s office, compared to 608 square feet in the old space. However, in the new site the space available to students will double from 351 to 730 square feet.
Beaulieu, from the Madison area, believes two gender-neutral bathrooms located near the Qube are the most important additions for students. “(They are) the first ones in the building,” Beaulieu said. “It is super important for transgendered individuals. The closest ones were at the Memorial Student Center.”
The changes are part of a $7.57 million first-floor renovation that is expected to wrap up in August. The renovation is funded with student fees. Price Commons houses the main student cafeteria on the second floor and offices on the first floor.
The new Qube has large windows, new LED lighting, including a starburst-shaped chandelier, colorful furniture and a drop-down ceiling that resembles a wave. Along the wall is the motto “be in, be out, belong.”
An area with comfortable seating gives students a more private space and for group meetings. That space has two whiteboard walls, allowing students to ask questions or share their thoughts and feelings. It also houses the Resource Library, providing information for students, faculty and staff.
Jennifer Lee, Memorial Student Center associate director, said about 900 students at UW-Stout identify as LGBTQIA+. “It is important to have a visible location for a marginalized population, so they know they are represented and welcome and do belong at UW-Stout,” Lee said. “We want UW-Stout to be a welcoming place. Stout is known for being a supportive campus.”
Students were part of the planning process for the new space, which includes two curtained meditative areas to allow students an opportunity to have a quiet place to collect their thoughts or reflect.
The Qube will allow transgender students to store clothing while they are transitioning, Lee said. Food, tea and coffee will be available in a kitchenette.
As the coordinator, Miller designed the space of her office which has two doors, allowing for students to meet with her and leave to an exterior hall or into the Qube, Lee said.
Jackie Cummings, a senior majoring in game design and development-art, also said the Qube was a factor in choosing UW-Stout. When Cummings first toured the campus, the Qube caught her eye because she feels it is important to have such a space for students.
“The new Qube is very visible,” Cummings said. “That sends a big message that the campus values LGBT+ students in a real way.”
Cummings works for Social Justice Programming for Engagement, Action, Knowledge and Understanding People (SPEAK UP), which helps students learn about the experiences of others, make connections across differences and engage in conversations about current events.
Also on Friday, the Qube will hold a reunion from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Terrace in the Memorial Student Center. Katie Wirsing Kramer, a spoken word artist, and advocate for trans rights, feminism and mental health awareness will speak. It is the first Qube reunion for past and present generations of the UW-Stout LGBTQIA+ community and ally advocates.
The 6th annual Qubies Gayla is at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, 205 Main St. E., Menomonie. The gala recognizes and celebrates individuals who advanced LGBTQIA+ inclusion and equality at UW-Stout and beyond over the past year. Tickets are $15 for the public and are available at University Ticketing.
UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.
The new Qube offers colorful décor and both public and private spaces for students to meet.
The Qube has whiteboard walls allowing students to write how they feel or ask questions.