Pride Center reopens for in-person activities

The Pride Center is back in the Student Center


American River College students and staff visited the Pride Center on Jan. 31 to mark its reopening. David Austin, pride center coordinator; Mary Goodall, and UNITE Center Concierge, Corey Winfield pose for a photo. (Photo by Kaitlyn Riley)

The Pride Center reopened at American River College’s main campus in the UNITE Center on Jan. 31.

The UNITE Center is home to many groups on campus and oftentimes those programs intersect with one another.

David Austin, a professor of communication at American River College, is the Pride Center coordinator. 

Austin said the open house was a success as many students were seen building a community together and learned more about the Pride Center and its purpose.

According to Austin, the Pride Center offers resources and services that inform about the history, challenges and victories among the LGBTQIA+ community.

“The Pride Center addresses the unique needs and challenges of students,” Austin said. “Who may experience discrimination, alienation, disenfranchisement, harassment, intimidation, or other barriers to student success as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.”

When Austin took over, he said he was filled with sadness as all the belongings to the Pride Center pre-COVID-19 were packed up in boxes. With the reopening came the plan for renovations to create an improved space for students.

“I love that we have a UNITE Center where the mission is to produce and provide a welcoming and inclusive programming and environment,” Austin said. “That engages in brave dialogue and inclusive culturally enriched high quality education.”

The front desk of the UNITE Center is staffed by concierge Corey Winfield, a staff member at American River College. 

Winfield said this space adds a welcoming and safe environment for students and helps promote unity among them.

“COVID crushed what connection there was, pushing students online in chat formats,” Winfield said. “It is absolutely necessary for students to feel safe, seen and have great social and mental outlets to deal with pressures of life and school.”

One thing to come during the fall 2023 semester is the Pride Learning Community. This year-long program will allow for students to enroll in classes that focus on issues in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Austin said that opportunities provided from this learning program include peers being able to share the same classes, along with field trips and surrounding students with others who support them personally and academically.

Austin says that a Lavender Graduation Celebration is being planned to celebrate the achievements of LGBTQIA+ students.

More information about the Pride Center and upcoming events can be found on the ARC website.

Contact Austin at [email protected] for any questions or ideas.