EIU Pride reaches community name agreement

Corryn Brock, News Editor

EIU Pride has reached an agreement with the university regarding the name of the LGBTQ+ living learning community coming to Eastern in the fall. 

The agreement comes after multiple weeks of debate between the RSO and university officials. Following a sit-in Monday afternoon, the group has gained the support of the university for the committee to be named and advertised as the Doug DiBianco Community. 

On Eastern’s website describing the themed floors available to students, the section describing the gender inclusive community now states: 

“The Doug DiBianco Learning Community is an inclusive community designed to create a comfortable and supportive environment for all students of all gender and sexual identities. Community members have the opportunity to connect with role models and allies at EIU. The community also has a partnership with the Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity. You can request to live in this community by selecting “Gender Inclusive Housing” in your Room and Board Contract, and approval is granted through the GSD Center. View more information at eiu.edu/lgbtqa/gender_inclusiv_housing.php.  For 2021-22, the Gender Inclusive Housing is located on a residential floor in McKinney Hall.” 

Dibianco taught for 32 years but also founded the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Allies Union that later became EIU Pride. 

According to Sam Hennegan, EIU Pride President and junior English major, Dibianco’s contribution means a lot to the LGBTQ+ community on campus. 

“He was a person who provided a space for the LGBTQ community when we were not allowed on campus because EIU was not always accessible to our community,” Hennegan said during a EIU Pride meeting with University President David Glassman, Vice President for Student Affairs Anne Flaherty and Vice President for University Advancement Ken Wetstein. 

Hennegan expressed gratitude for the space the community was given, but said it was important to them that the space was given DiBianco’s name due to his contributions as an ally to the community and his dedication to creating a space for LGBTQ+ students at Eastern.

A post from Hennegan on EIU Pride’s Facebook outline what exactly the RSO was seeking and why they were seeking it.

“We want the name to be on the housing application, the EIU website, and all marketing. After meeting with President Glassman we have been told that we can only have the name “unofficially”. This means that EIU will not directly be calling it the Doug DiBianco community, but the students can call it that if they want,” Hennegan said. “The reasons why we want his name is because of safety and to honor him. Many closeted students have their parents know where they live. The administration originally wanted it to be the Pride floor and by naming it after a person it decreases the likelihood that parents will question their housing assignment.”

Before walking to Old Main students met at the Mellin Steps at the Doudna Fine Arts Center where they had chalked a variety of messages. 

Messages included, “It’s our community, let us name it!”, DiBianco in bold letters and “It’s LGBTQ+ not LQPAT.”

The message, “It’s LGBTQ+ not LQPAT,” was in reference to Glassman misspeaking during a meeting with the RSO and saying LGBTQIA+ incorrectly.

Many signs at the sit-in held the same sentiment as the chalked messages.

After discussion between Glassman and Hennegan Monday afternoon, it was realized there was miscommunication on what specifically was being asked of the university. Within twenty minutes of the sit-in the website was changed and updated to reflect what the group was looking for.

After the discussion was had between supporters of the living learning community’s name and Glassman, a rainbow was visible over the castle. Many of those at the sit-in said they saw the rainbow as a good sign.

Previously, Glassman and Wetstein said at an RSO meeting the naming process is not as simple as selecting a name significant to EIU Pride. 

The men explained that while in the past it was common practice to name buildings after established members of the university community, now university naming strongly follows in the footsteps of philanthropy and donations to the university. 

The floor is an option for students applying for housing for next year.

While it is primarily open for who identify as LGBTQ+, it is also for allies of the LGBTQ+ community.

Students who are not out are able to live on the floor as well, the website states: “We hope you can see this as a place where you can be yourself and be anywhere in your identity journey.”

The floor is different from others in that its programming will be focused on LGBTQIA+ identities. The floor will also have a close relationship with the Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity.

The website states, “We hope that this floor provides a space for students to live without having to justify their identity!”

The community will be starting in McKinney Hall will the potential of moving at the community grows.


Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]