The University of Rhode Island breaks ground Wednesday on a new Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center.
URI officials say the start of construction is groundbreaking in more ways than one. They believe URI is the first university in the country to have a separate building dedicated solely as an LGBTQ center.
In the past, URI has faced criticism for being an unfriendly campus to gay and lesbian students. The university has also faced accusations that officials forced out a popular advisor, Andrew Winters, who worked on gay and lesbian issues.
University President David Dooley has denied that he forced Winters to resign, and has said he is committed to fostering a climate of acceptance and diversity at URI. The new LGBTQ center is part of that commitment, according to URI officials.
The center will feature a multipurpose meeting room, a student lounge and a conference room, along with offices for staff. Plans describe it as a single-story stone and clapboard building with a veranda in the front, and ornamental plantings decorating the roof.