Institution Spotlight: Illinois Tech Hosts Laverne Cox

Zachary Sanderson, Residence Hall Director & Patrick Fina, Assistant Director of Campus Life at Illinois Tech – Chicago, IL

May 2, 2018

On April 9th, 2018, Illinois Tech hosted Laverne Cox, one of the most prominent trans women of color in Hollywood, to speak on our campus. The event was organized primarily by Prism, Illinois Tech's student organization for gender and sexuality diversity, with the Office of Campus Life. The event sold 153 tickets, which may sound small but is a significantly large number for our small student population. The event was particularly significant to the students of Prism and our trans students because they have spent a significant part of the year advocating for access to bathrooms, preferred names in academic databases, and starting a new student organization for trans and gender nonconfroming students. This was particularly apparent when Laverne took time to individually hear each of our students' stories in the meet and greet portion of the evening.

The event also taught us a lot as professionals in student affairs. It required a lot of collaboration that extended past Prism and the Office of Campus Life. We were lucky to have the help and support of event services in making sure the auditorium and AV equipment were ready to go. Prism also took on a lot of the responsibilities of planning the event, including proving to the student government association that there was demand from other students so that they could get approved for funding. Further, it became clear that our small university was not originally designed to bring in large speakers. We had to get creative when it came to finding spaces for green rooms and meet and greets. Overall, the hard work and collboartion paid off. We were fortunate to get this experience, and our students really benefitted from it.

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