The SQUAD Newsletter

The SQUAD Newsletter | Sept-Oct 2021 | 2nd Issue

About the SQUAD Newsletter 

The SQUAD newsletter is a newsletter for friends of The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center at MSU (GSCC).

First launched in June 2021, this newsletter is shared with friends, donors, supporters, and alumni/a/x of Michigan State University. If you have received this newsletter, you have previously donated to the GSCC (previously known as the LBGT Resource Center), you have engaged with LGBTQIA2S+ affinity-based activities, or you are an alumnx/a/i. 

The newsletter will be sent out three times a year: 

  • June (International Pride Month)
  • September/October
  • January/February

Inquiries about the newsletter can be sent to GSCC@MSU.EDU. 

In this newsletter, we will share campus updates, LGBTQIA2S+ events and programs, and opportunities to get involved. We will celebrate LGBTQIA2S+ Spartans, including our current students, our alumni/a/x, and employees. We will also acknowledge our supporters and donors for their contributions to the center and the experiences of LGBTQIA2S+ Spartans. 

You are our team--our squad--and we couldn't do this without you. Thank you! 


In This Issue

This page contains some content from The SQUAD Newsletter, including enhanced content. To navigate this page, please click on one of the links below:


Letter from the Director

Dear friends,

We did it. Another school year has begun. We welcomed two classes to MSU; our first year students and the sophomores who studied remotely last year. Campus is alive and the "Family Room" in The Gender and Sexuality Center is bustling! 

We hosted the LGBTQIA2S+ New Student Welcome program on August 30th. Over 300 students attended! Campus partners and student organizations tabled to ensure that our queer and trans students had access to resources and support services, were able to connect with peers, and get involved on campus. President Stanley provided welcome remarks. Many thanks to John Haskins for his generous support of this program!  

For the past four weeks we have hosted our award-winning New2U program for new and transfer students. This partnership with MSU's Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative is designed to support LGBTQIA2S+ students navigate campus, find friends, and gain confidence. 

It has been a truly wonderful start to the year. 

This new year brings new changes: to our world, to this country, to our campus, and to The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center. It is with great sadness that I share some news. I have accepted a position at the University of Michigan's Spectrum Center. My last day as the director of the GSCC will be October 20. I am working with the Student Affairs and Services leadership team to create a transition plan. Details of the transition will be available in mid-October. 

Before we knew about my departure, I was slated to be the "Staff Spotlight" for this newsletter. Below, I share more about the center, our future, and my gratitude for all of you. 

I might be leaving, but as a PhD student in the HALE program, I am still a Spartan. Soon I will join your ranks as a friend of the GSCC. I am grateful to be have been able to lead this center and be in community with all of you. 

Go Green!
Jesse Beal 


The DEI Report and Plan

MSU releases diversity, equity and inclusion framework to inform strategic planning efforts

by Chris Chapman

MSU released its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Steering Committee Plan, culminating 18 months of review, stakeholder input and development. The plan was designed as a framework of recommendations to improve the culture around DEI and collaborate with overall strategic planning efforts across the university. The DEI Steering Committee was formed by MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., in December 2019, and was charged with taking inventory of the university’s efforts related to DEI across campus; identifying potential synergies; pinpointing existing gaps, and establishing a framework for making MSU a national leader in DEI. The framework includes 27 recommendations, categorized by four major themesIncrease diversity, ensure equity, promote inclusion, and enhance outreach and engagement.

“MSU’s commitment to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion must be embedded in the university’s culture and meaningfully expressed in every academic and administrative unit,” Stanley said. “Our success depends on the engagement of the entire campus community. Guided by this framework, that is the work that lies ahead.” Read more

GSCC Director Jesse Beal served on the DEI Steering Committee and led the workgroups that created the DEI Inventory of MSU and authored the report on student success and composition.

GSCC Assistant Director Oprah Jrenal served on the Racial Justice Taskforce. 



Opportunties to Contribute & Get Involved

To learn more about how to contribute and get involved please visit the Invest in Us page or our MSU Online Giving Page


For more information about the Queering Racial Justice Summit, please visit the QRJS page



Alumnnx Spotlight:

Q & A with MSU Alumnx Michael D. Shutt, PhD

Southern Regional Director of Lambda Legal

What is your favorite part of campus? Or, what was your favorite part of campus when you were a student? 

I was actually placed in Mason-Abbot as a first year student and then lived in CLaM as an RA and Graduate Assistant. So, anywhere on north campus is great. I spent a lot of time biking and rollerblading all over north campus.

Tell us about your MSU experience. What was most memorable about your time here or what did you find was most influential to your success? Or, what do you value the most about your degree from MSU?

I was a first generation college student from Indiana. I did not know anyone when I arrived. I quickly made friends with upperclassman in my residence hall and found my way through MSU. I came out to a dear friend on my floor my second year. Soon after, I left for a year on the MSU exchange program with the University of Surrey in Guildford, England. I came back from that experience riding a unicorn with a rainbow flag flying. I even participated in a protest march on campus on rollerblades with a rainbow cape. I became an RA that fall when the RA on that floor left their position. The Complex Director, now a member of the Idaho House of Representatives, told me that that former RA left for a variety of undisclosed reasons, but wanted me to know that folks on the floor used the fact that he was gay against him. My response, “I love challenge.” My LGBTQ bulletin boards were regularly vandalized, but I had back-ups of everything. I wore them down by not giving up and the vandal eventually gave up. I also created a scandal with one of my first programs, an LGBTQ panel, when I hung up a 10 banner in the dinning hall with 3 foot letters asking, “What to you think of Queers?”  I was asked to post disclaimers on the banner after complaints were received. I learned quickly that the resistance and push back that I received was both challenging AND exhilarating. MSU taught me to be me and fight like hell for myself and others. So, all of extracurricular activities and work on campus grounded everything I have done since leaving MSU. Have I applied my Physiology and Public Administration degrees I received from MSU? Yes, it was a challenge to shift gears from the national sciences to political science, but that experience actually prepared me to do anything.

Why are LGBTQA+ resource centers on college campuses important? What is their impact? What do you believe is the potential of a thriving LGBTQA+ center on a university campus?

While I was at MSU, there was not a center. Brent Bilodeau, the founding director of MSU’s center, was the Complex Director of my residence hall. He fought for years to establish services for LGBTQ folks on campus. When I took my first professional job at the University of Georgia, I too began that fight. Why? LGBTQ students continue to face discrimination on campus. It will take generations for higher education, and the rest of society, to overcome the foundation that was laid solely for white, heterosexual, Christian men. That being said, it is not just about taking a deficit approach. The fact of the matter is that students who are liberated and able to be their full selves will be able to advance MSU’s mission. This is a strength. As a reminder, MSU’s mission is to advance knowledge and transform lives by:

  1. providing outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional education to promising, qualified students in order to prepare them to contribute fully to society as globally engaged citizen leaders<></>
  2. conducting research of the highest caliber that seeks to answer questions and create solutions in order to expand human understanding and make a positive difference, both locally and globally<></>
  3. advancing outreach, engagement, and economic development activities that are innovative, research-driven, and lead to a better quality of life for individuals and communities, at home and around the world

LGBTQ centers teach and engage students. They support students to utilize the resources of the university and give back to the community. Supporting students as they explore themselves and the world in which they live is a critical part of expanding their understanding of and ability to make a positive difference in the world. Most LGBTQ centers on college campuses were created with extraordinary intentionality to align themselves with their institutional missions because they had to. For that reason, every aspect of a center’s work is tied to the core mission. This cannot be said for all university units and divisions.

After founding the first LGBT Resource Center at a public university in Georgia and then leading one of the first LGBT Centers in at the country at Emory University, I have seen the need for centers first hand. I have also seen the positive impact they make in the lives of students and the community. In 2013, I was serving as the Co-Chair of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals and interviewed one of the organization’s founders. We discussed our stories and the importance of LGBT centers in higher education. Here is the Story Corps interview.

What are you the most passionate about and why?

Capacity building in equity and justice movements. I jump in to do the most “unsexy” parts of capacity building. This includes figuring out processes, procedures, systems, and all the things that makes organizations work. This work is foundational and long lasting. The flash and sparkle of events or a moment will fade, but the foundations will remain. I am passionate about doing this kind of work because I think it creates the space needed for the community to creatively solve problems, grow and develop, and liberate itself. 

How do you practice self-care and community care? 

  1. Garden. Share the products of my gardening. Teach others to garden.
  2. I like building things. 
  3. I also laugh A LOT. I take my work seriously, but not myself seriously.
  4. I make lists…obviously.

What motivates you to work toward LBGTQA+ justice, equity, and inclusion? 

Knowing the work is far from complete motivates me every day. I am a white, cis, queer, married man with a PhD and a lot of privilege that can be used for good. I am a committed coconspirator who will not stop. I am motivated by all of those activists whose shoulders I stand on. The work may be hard today, but it is a walk in a queer park compared to what it was even 30 years ago. I am also motivated by young people today. I met a student during my first month on the job at Lambda Legal who began fighting his school as a freshman just to use the bathroom. When we met, he was in college, still pursuing a lawsuit five years later. He was no long fighting for himself, he was fighting for students across the country who came after him.

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in LGBTQA+ justice, equity, and inclusion? 

This work will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and experience to do anything you want to do for the rest of your life. It is rewarding and challenging every single day.

I also want to call on white, cisgender folks to do a lot of self-work. This is your work to do, and it is hard. I worked with an anti-oppression coach last year and came to the realization that I spent the first 20 years of my life being taught how to oppress others. The next 20 years I worked hard to unlearn the first 20 years. At 48, I now have 8 years of living, working, loving, and advocating in a way that minimizes harm and maximizes liberation. Start early folks, it takes as much time to unlearn as it does to learn.

My favorite quote: Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. - T. S. Eliot



Michael D. Shutt PhD

Dr. Michael D. Shutt is the Southern Regional Director of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. Prior to his current role, Michael spent 20 years providing strategic leadership in student affairs at Emory University and the University of Georgia. At Emory, he served in several roles including the Assistant Dean and Director of the Office of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Life, Interim Sr. Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and Sr. Director of Campus Life. Michael advocated for and served as the Founding Director of the University of Georgia’s LGBT Resource Center, the first LGBT resource center at a public university in Georgia.

Michael also engages in service in the community. He just completed six years of services on the Board of Directors of the Equality Foundation of Georgia and currently serves on the Advisory Board of the LGBTQ Institute at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Michael served as a Grand Marshal for the 2014 Atlanta Pride Parade because of his work in higher education and in Georgia.

Originally from Indiana, Michael received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Administration from Michigan State University and Doctor of Philosophy in Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia, where he currently serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education. Michael and his husband Brian live in Atlanta with their dogs Beatrice and Arthur, a cat named Sadie, and Michael’s mother who is lovingly known as their QueenAger.


Staff Spotlight 

Editorial from Jesse Beal, GSCC Director

Hello, folks. I had a different plan for this first article from me. Originally, it was a Q&A, but because a new opportunity has been given to me and I will be moving to a new position in late October, I thought I would reach out in a different way to share this important information.

First, I’d like to thank you for considering supporting The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center within the Division of Student Affairs and Services at Michigan State University. The GSCC is important, impactful and needed, and will continue to be all of those things, no matter who is leading it. So, please, consider how you may support the GSCC and the incredible Spartans we serve.

To give some perspective, when I was looking at colleges in Texas in the early 2000s, I went to UT Austin because there was a Gender and Sexuality Center. It was a big deal when that center was created, and I wanted to go to a school that had given an institutional commitment to LGBTQIA2S+ students. That was really important to me based on my activist and organizing work prior to going to college. It was important to me based on my identities and so I ended up at UT Austin. I really loved my time there and I worked very closely with the center as both a peer educator who led trainings and workshops on LGBTQA+ identity and also as an intern who worked on UT’s first student-run feminist conference.

I met a person who was the education coordinator at the time who hired me to be a peer educator who was the first gender queer person I had known over 50. Just to be able to see a possibility model was a really big deal for me and my formation as a human being. It was great to have queer elders in my life.

So, a part of why I do this work is because I know centers can have a transformational impact on students we serve. We may not be able to alter all of the material our students face, but we can certainly navigate the campus with them and make it as easy as we can, provide the solutions when we can. We can hold their hands when things get hard. We can advocate for them when things go wrong, so that they’re never, ever alone. We also love them and stand that they are perfect and wholly complete exactly as they are, which is the opposite of the message they’re getting from so many other places in the world. If I could put it in a job description, I would. No. 1 is treating our students like they are perfect and whole and complete exactly as they are, because they are, and make sure they know it. That’s the whole gig. Everything else stems from that.


Student Needs

For some background, LGBTQA+ students across the country are asking for the same things. They’re asking for better housing options, more all-gender restrooms, for faculty and staff to use their names and pronouns, data systems that actually capture gender and sexual identity in more crucial ways. They’re asking for mandatory training on DEI.

Our students come into my office, for example, and they talk to me about how they don’t know how they’re going to pay for their four years of college, and we figure out how to get them to the right services. We strive to be an office that they can bring all of who they are, all of their identities, all of their complexities, all of their pain, all of their joy and everything in between.

We hold certain things as given, that all humans have worth, and we believe people when they tell us who they are. We do one-on-one mentorship and support. There is advocacy when things go wrong. Right now, we’re dealing with some issues with student’s names showing up incorrectly in some systems due to the new SIS project. We make sure students are able to figure out financial aid by working our contacts there. We are working with the Registrar’s office all of the time to make sure students are represented the way they need to be, whether it’s on a diploma or on class listings.



A lot of our programs are around celebrating students – both virtual and live. We’re going to do the GSCC Tabling on the Quad for Bi Visibility Day. It’s going to fun and cute, celebratory and flags everywhere. For National Coming Out Day, we’re going to be doing a zine making workshop, so students are going to be able to tell their coming out stories and we’ll share that digitally. Bringing people that celebrate us is a big part of that.

We sometimes try and bookend things. We have these events that are like festivities and fun, and amazing and visibility of that and then we have the events that are harder. Trans Day of Remembrance is one of those. That’s November 20th. In our community it’s really important to teach our youth how to grieve, because part of being a part of the LGBTQA+ community is knowing how to say goodbye to community members that we’ve lost and collectively mourn those that we’ve lost to LGBTQA+ oppression. The only way we get through this is together. There’s education that’s a part of that, but also there’s collective grieving.


Support and Giving

Most of our programs are open to anyone, alumni, community members, donors who are cisgender or heterosexual, faculty and staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, all across the board. Anyone can attend a program, and anyone can donate to a program or an event.

We appreciate the $5,000, $10,000 donation, certainly, but for many folks that’s not a reality, so we also appreciate the $5, $10 donations. Sometimes the $5, $10 donations are the money that allows us to add an additional student to an event, like the Queering Racial Justice Summit, because $10 is how much the lunch costs. We know donations come in all different sizes and people are only able to give what they can, and we appreciate every dollar.

This particular year, due to COVID-19, all of our funding is coming from donor gifts for every program we’re doing. Funding for next year’s programs is something we are actively fundraising for right now. Donating to our gift account, the Gender and Sexuality Center Fund, is huge.

We’re also fundraising for the Queer and Racial Justice Summit, a two-day, immersive experience on racism, homophobia, transphobia for our LGBTQIA2S+ students. It’s about the intersections of race, gender, sexuality within LGBTQA+ communities. Specifically, it’s about unlearning racism in LGBTQIA2S+ communities so that all members of our community feel a part of our community. 

We have the LBGTRC Endowment that still carries our old name from when it was written, and we have the Wilensky-Ritzenhein Endowment. These are important, recurring funds for us. We also have the Unconditional Love Fund, which is our fund for students who are experiencing hardship due to their gender and sexual identity. This fund allows us to provide direct support for students in financial crisis due to their gender or sexual identity. Often times, students are cut off from family funding because of their sexuality or gender diversity and they end up needing a small amount of money to make rent or another larger purchase, like to pay a deposit on a new apartment because they can no longer live where they were living, or someone is transitioning, and they’re interested in gender affirming clothing and they can’t afford it because that’s outside of what financial aid would cover. That’s a really wonderful way we do direct support.

We have three scholarships that we are actively fundraising for. The Westbury Buck Scholarship is not yet matured, so we cannot currently award scholarships. We have the Pride Endowed Scholarship. We are usually able to give $25,000-$30,000 in scholarship funds every year to make sure LGBTQA+ Spartans are able to continue their education at MSU. It’s based on their commitment and dedication to the LGBTQA+ community and awarded to students who are active in the community and changemakers, in addition to their studies. We have the Pougnet Green Endowed Scholarship, designed for the folks in the Broad College of Business who are LGBTQA+, very similarly who are dedicated to contributing to LGBTQA+ communities.

There are also options for folks to create new funds. We have a couple of bequests around specific interests that we will be able to access in coming years.

One option for support is to help the GSCC to get an embedded counseling position within the center because of disproportionate impact of the current mental health crisis on college students, on LGBTQA+ communities. We know from the Trevor Project statistics that the numbers around suicidality, anxiety, depression, self-harm are very high in the LGBTQA+ community, particularly for our trans and non-binary community members. So, a lot of our work is around suicide prevention and supporting students’ mental health, getting them to the resources needed. It would be incredible to have a counselor on staff to meet with students in our center to enhance our ability to meet the crisis and to make sure our students have the support they need.


Other Support

People can educate themselves. We have a ton of resources on our website about pronouns, about inclusive language, about how to collect demographic information, promising practices on how to create all-gender restrooms, better signage to use.

If folks are affiliated with MSU, they can complete the Quest training, which is open to anyone who has an MSU log-on. Most of our workshops that are live, either in-person or on ZOOM, anyone can register for, too.

It could be as simple as sending an email telling us you want to get involved and we’ll find a way. Sometimes it’s, hey, I’m looking for an intern, and then we’ll connect folks to Career Services to get somebody to an LGBTQA+ -affirming workplace to do their internship, which is sometimes hard to find.

One of the most important things for our alumnx is to show up at programs. It actually matters.

One of the most beautiful things about working in a LGBTQA+ center on a college campus is you really do have relationships with queer and trans people of all ages, so it gives you that family feel. So, we have the 18-year-olds and then some faculty and staff have queer younger children that come into the center, and then there’s queer and trans faculty and staff of all ages. At our welcome program, there were queer and trans faculty, staff and students of all different ages. That’s not how most queer and trans people grow up. We don’t grow up in families where there’s a lot of other queer people, so it’s really nice to see our community across generations. It’s really amazing for our students to understand that that LGBTQA+ Spartans have been at MSU forever, since MSU began. It gives students a sense of belonging and that this campus is theirs, too. We can’t count out the importance of cross-generational contact.


Changes at MSU

President Stanley arrived and that has made a huge impact, because his vision of diversity, equity and inclusion includes LGBTQIA2S+ identities. It is very intersectional, it’s thoughtful, it’s nuanced and it’s inclusive. The charge he has given around DEI has been inclusive of gender identity and sexual identity, but also around disability and veterans and many, many different realms of identity. It’s not that we’re not going to talk about race; we are certainly going to talk about race. It’s that we are going to bring in more intentional, intersectional lens and understanding that people have multiple identities and our experiences at MSU are impacted by those multiple identities.

Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Jabbar Bennett has also arrived in my time here. That has made an impact, as well, with us. MSU also hired Henry Mochida to do DEI communications who understands LGBTQIA2S+ identity. That’s huge.

When I first showed up on campus, no one was sharing their pronouns in any meetings I attended, not a single one. That has completely changed. Senior leaders now put their pronouns in their email signature when they’re addressing the university. It sounds like a small thing, but actually it’s a huge thing. Our LGBTQIA2S+ students have noticed, and they text me when it happens.

In the past two years, we’ve been able to change our name and that’s very much credit to Senior Vice President Vennie Gore for making that happen for us. The Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee was formed since I got here, and the report has gone out. 

This semester, gender inclusive housing went into effect, which was a huge advocacy project that we partnered on with Residence Education and Housing Services. We wanted to ensure students have more choices related to who they live with and how they live on campus. Gender inclusive housing is designed for trans and non-binary community members, but it’s for anyone who wants to live with anybody of any gender. It could be two heterosexual cisgender students who just have different genders who are best friends and just want to live together. This was a huge project for all students, increasing student choice and treating them like adults.

We currently, and have been working on for several years, changes in how the university captures name, because the way we handle name for student, staff, faculty, alumni, as well, doesn’t really work when you consider trans and non-binary community members. We’ve been working with many folks across campus to create a solution for everyone. We’re also asking for pronouns to be added as an option. This is all optional for the university to be capturing honorifics where needed.

We also need to know demographic information around sexual and gender identity, of course in the most private way. We currently are not able to look at LGBTQA+ student populations in the way that we do other populations. For example, veterans, student parents, first generation students, students of color, can look at things like persistence, time to degree, graduation rate, probation – these traditional student success metrics that are so important to higher education. However, we do not have access to this data. This would be an opportunity to do better work around student success because we would be able to know what’s actually happening with our students. We know from some of our peer institutions that the two-year drop rate is actually really high among LGBTQA+ students.

In the meantime, we are launching a campus climate survey for our LGBTQA+ students, so we will have some information about this.

As you can see, we are busy.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my thoughts and hopes for the GSCC. I hope you will become an advocate for the center and for our LGBTQA+ Spartans.


Many thanks to Terri Hughes Lazzell for her help writing this article.