Introducing new Gender and Sexuality Center coordinator Blake Bonkowski – The Oakland Post

No Comments

The Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) is under new leadership. Blake Bonkowski has joined the team as the new coordinator and is excited to enact change on campus by supporting and advocating for LGBTQ+ students. 

“It genuinely feels like a dream come true every day,” Bonkowski said. “Every step that I took – from what type of master’s degree I chose to the grad assistantships that I did and the jobs I looked at as I was getting ready to graduate – it all was with the goal of having this specific role at this institution.” 

Bonkowski is no stranger to the OU community. As an alumnus, he was the former president of student organization Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and a former volunteer of the GSC. 

“I’m really glad that I had those early experiences with leadership in the context of the LGBT community because I think we, to some extent, have our own set of ethics and values that we teach to each other in the community,” Bonkowski said. “Learning leadership in that context was really great for me, [and] I think it made me a much more open-minded, compassionate and thoughtful leader.” 

Despite being an alumnus, Bonkowski is not here to simply maintain the GSC; rather, he wishes to improve upon the programming and drive the mission and vision forward. 

“I don’t want people to be concerned that because I was here ten years ago, I’m going to want to make things like they were ten years ago,” Bonkowski said. “I want to make things the best they could possibly be for the students we currently have.”        

As coordinator, Bonkowski has a clear vision for the immediate future of the GSC. 

“Priority number one for me [is] – what do our LGBT students need?” Bonkowski said. “Number two is — how do we equip the rest of our campus community with knowledge so that those students can have the experience that they deserve while they’re here?”  

Despite his desire for change, Bonkowski has a deep respect for the roots of the GSC and wishes to merely build upon the foundation that has already been laid by former students and staff before him. 

“Everything that you have come to expect from the GSC should be continuing for the most part,” Bonkowski said. “I was hoping to make everything that we’ve been doing a little bit bigger [and] a little bit better.”

Bonkowski feels it is especially important to note that having an active GSC on campus is crucial for the success of LGBTQ+ students as they navigate their college experience. 

“LGBTQ+ students have different needs when they get to college than cisgender/heterosexual students do,” Bonkowski said. “There’s a ton of research that points to three stages of life that people tend to have self-realizations about sexual orientation and gender identity — one of those is when they enter college.”

It is clear that Bonkowski has a deep passion for the work that the GSC does, as it made a deep impact on his own life during his time as a student. 

“Spending time in the GSC is how I figured out my own identities as a trans person and a queer person,” Bonkowski said. “I had so little knowledge about the trans community coming into college. I can’t imagine what my life would have looked like if I hadn’t walked in there freshman year, met other trans people and had them echo back to me [the] things I had been saying my whole life. It’s really exciting and important for me to be the person who is creating those opportunities and spaces for other people now.”

Introducing new Gender and Sexuality Center coordinator Blake Bonkowski

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.