Feature Story: Progress is Happening at UCO

Dr. Rebecca Quoss-Moore, LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Association

As of July, the university has successfully worked with Paycom to streamline the process for faculty, staff and student employees to ensure their name and pronouns are correctly indicated in Paycom systems. While the Paycom options have placed some restraints on our ability to use the most accurate language, faculty, staff and student employees can now add or edit their pronouns and add or edit their chosen name Our many campus advocacy groups are grateful for the Division of People and Culture’s work with our systems to create this much-needed option—and grateful to everyone on campus who has advocated, over a period of many years, for these changes.  

We are continuing work to ensure that this information can be accurately displayed across university systems—and a major priority is ensuring we can offer accurate self-identification for our students as well. President Neuhold-Ravikumar and People and Culture have expressed their support for this progress. As our administrators work toward that future, we encourage all university community members to check employee information for their assigned downline reports, offer the guides on adding and editing pronouns and chosen names to student employees, who do not have access to The Hub, and create opportunities for students to share their pronouns and names in a safe and respectful space.  

Please remember that it is not considered best practice to insist on pronoun display or sharing, as such insistence can often be harmful to trans, non-binary and questioning individuals. Rather, offer the option for self-identification as one outlet to indicate our investment in respectful and inclusive community, while also normalizing the practice for people of all gender identities. 

These are important steps towards building a more inclusive campus. We have made many such important steps in recent years. Our SAFE student organization has long served as an important campus community partner, guided for many years by Dr. David Macey as adviser and now advised by Dene Roseburr-Olotu and Gigi Jones. The Center, even at only five-years-old, is already an integral campus resource and the faculty, staff and student team there, under Dr. Lindsey Churchill, have developed the state’s only major in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. This team also partnered with Diversity Family Health to offer free HIV testing during all open hours for The Center. In recent years, The Center and SAFE worked with the LBGTQIA+ Faculty Staff Association and our Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) to develop an LGBTQ+ Success Initiative, an effort first spearheaded by Dr. Brenton Wimmer. ODI’s suite of student retention initiatives reflects an important investment for our campus. Hoping to build on that intersectional spirit, faculty staff associations (FSA) across campus have been working to build more communicative structures and opportunities for allyship across our groups. 

Our LGBTQIA+ FSA, long served by John Stephens and LaTasha Giddings, has new officers this fall, and we’re excited to continue to work with our campus community. Dr. Rebecca Quoss-Moore (former secretary) is now our FSA president, and Dr. Lindsey Churchill, director of The Center, is the president-elect. Sarah Moore, of the Career Development Center, is our new secretary, and Patrick Hale serves as our new treasurer. Please reach out to any of our officers if you need support or resources.  

We also invite you to join us at an Affinity Group Fair, to be hosted by the Office of Inclusive Community on Thursday, Aug. 19. Representatives from affinity groups across campus will host booths from 4-5 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building South Atrium; at 5 p.m., a family-friendly, pay-your-own-way happy hour will commence at the Edmond Railyard. Registration for this event is available now. Looking ahead, we hope to see you at the Edmond Pride Festival in October—another opportunity to celebrate our progress together!