Pride Center kicks off the semester with a Rainbow Reception


The Pride Center welcomed the semester with its annual Rainbow Reception for the LGBTQ community Northridge Center at the University Student Union. Christian Beltran/ The Sundial

Christian Beltran


The Pride Center welcomed the semester with its annual Rainbow Reception for the LGBTQ community Tuesday, Sept. 1, in the Northridge Center at the University Student Union. The event catered to the CSUN lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual and allied students, faculty and staff for an evening filled with entertainment, food, drinks and social activities.

Almost 300 people attended for a night of music, free food and beverages. The Valley Performing Arts Center’s dance group, Diavolo, performed for the audience, who also participated in socializing games and raffles of movie tickets, t-shirts and rainbow-themed souvenirs.

Pride Center Coordinator Sarina Loeb said the goal of the reception was to connect students with LGBTQ-friendly faculty and staff.

“The purpose is to be able to build those connections on campus… to create a safe and welcoming environment for students.”

CSUN’s LGBTQ student population size is unknown because students’ sexual orientation is not recorded. But Loeb said the Pride Center averages over 100 student visits a day in its new space on the second floor of the Sol Center at the USU.

William Watkins, vice president of student affairs, said CSUN welcomes and cherishes the LGBTQ community because the school values diversity.

“You are able to be who you are without feeling judged at CSUN,” Watkins said. “We want to provide that welcoming environment for every one of you.”

“We are very fortunate here at CSUN to have support of faculty and staff who take the time to come to an event like this and show support to students,” Loeb said.

Michael McClindon, majoring in deaf studies, was among the students sitting at one of the round tables, interacting with others as they filled out a survey about each other.

“I had a lot of fun, and it exceeded my expectations,” McClindon said. “I met a few cool people. It’s always nice to meet and connect with people like that.”

“It was fantastic,” said Debra Hammond, the USU executive director. “It tells [us] that this is a safe place for students. Everybody that comes to Northridge pays a fee to be here, so this environment is for everyone.”

Paul Lazarony, openly gay professor and department chair of Accounting and Information Systems, said that 18 years ago, a town hall meeting about LGBTQ issues on campus had an attendance of 18 people and only two were students.

“Today, to see this, it’s amazing how much has changed,” Lazarony said. “There is a very strong network of faculty and staff and other students who are allies.”

“I’ve been coming out to students for 18 years, and the first question I used to get by students was about religious issues,” Lazarony said. “Today, they say ‘How cool; I have a gay professor.'”

Hammond said the Pride Center is funded by student fees.

“It’s important that they know we are here supporting you,” Hammond said. “This is the environment that you can be happy in, where you can grow, where you can achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve.”

Hammond said it is important for students to feel welcomed and comfortable on campus.

“Students who are connected to the institution have a tendency to graduate at higher rates,” she said. “That’s what is all about: student success.”