Julián Cancino transforms the Gender and Sexuality Center at Brandeis

Julian CancinoPhoto/Rachel Carbary

Julian Cancino

The Gender and Sexuality Center at Brandeis invites students, faculty and staff to engage with people and resources that foster inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ community.

In his first year at Brandeis, director Julián Cancino has collaborated with campus partners, local organizations, and national associations to align the center’s mission with university values, policies, and initiatives. 

BrandeisNOW spoke to Cancino about his work at the Gender and Sexuality Center, located in the Usdan Student Center.

How would you describe the Gender and Sexuality Center at Brandeis?

Julián Cancino: The Gender and Sexuality Center at Brandeis is a place to belong, grow, and serve. Our Brandeis GSC is unique for several reasons. First, due to our reporting structure, our scope of work is broader. Under the purview of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI), the GSC offers LGBTQIA+ affirming services to faculty, staff and students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Secondly, we work with campus partners to ensure consistency in the student experience from prospective student to alum. Our aim is to ensure all our students feel right at home from the moment they open that admissions letter, select roommates, attend their first class and extracurricular activities, and graduate. Our students will grow and develop in unimaginable ways, and we’ll be there every step of the way. 

Finally, the GSC is a place of learning. We offer consultation services to campus partners on creating inclusive classrooms and campus communities, one-on-one sessions with students who are exploring their identity either as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities or as allies, and fun and engaging social events throughout the year. 

What does the center offer to visitors?

We offer the unwavering commitment to equity and inclusion for women and LGBTQIA+ communities. Visitors can expect to feel welcomed with open arms, access to affirming and up-to-date information, and a friendly face on campus who will listen and advocate as appropriate.

Brandesians can get in touch with any of our professional staff or student peer educators to chat about LGBTQIA+ life at Brandeis, exploration of gender identity and expression, exploration of sexuality, family acceptance, ally resources for faculty and educators, ally resources for parents and guardians, intersectionality, racial justice, international and immigrant experiences, first-generation experiences, social justice, and student activism.

We are a very active community. We host fun and engaging events throughout the year like talent shows, movie nights, clothing swaps, paint parties, trivia nights, book clubs, and much more. We are also home to several LGBTQIA+ groups including the Faculty and Staff Pride Alliance, who gathers here during lunchtime, and student groups like Triskelion, the university’s oldest queer organization.

What has your first year as director of the center been like? Are there particular initiatives you’ve started or developed?

As the inaugural director, establishing our office during a global pandemic has been challenging but not impossible. I’m very grateful to the many colleagues who have reached out to connect with our office, those who supported our online learning initiative and shared their knowledge with us, and, of course, the colleagues and students who have been doing this work for many years.

As the primary point of contact for Brandeis' efforts to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution for women and LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff, I have a special responsibility to advance policy development, community building, and institutional intervention as necessary. 

I have had the great pleasure of working with many campus partners and served as a consultant on many of their projects. Our office is here as a resource. We work with a wide range of offices and departments across campus on improving the practices, processes, and policies that make Brandeis the place of choice for women and LGBTQIA+ individuals. 

It’s our smaller actions, the everyday experiences, that signal to the LGBTQ+ community that we are indeed a welcoming space.

How should the Brandeis community engage with the GSC and support its mission and vision?

Let’s talk. We don’t need a problem to be fixed in order to start building the relationship. So, reach out. The earlier, the better. We meet one-on-one with any community member who is looking for affirming and research-based information. We also connect  online. Follow us @Brandeis_GSC or email us at gsc@brandeis.edu

Do the work. Get cozy with a book at the GSC library. Join us for a movie night and stay for the Q&A. Attend a student-run club meeting and help plan an event. Eat your lunch or do your homework at the GSC. In other words, pick your favorite way to learn and grow and run with it.

Come visit us at the center as soon as you can and as often as possible. So, don’t be shy and come say ‘Hi!”

Categories: General, Student Life

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