Author: Malave, William

Please welcome our new Rainbow Center Coordinator!

Greetings from the Rainbow Center,

I’m excited to announce that the Rainbow Center has officially hired Chris Richard (they/them/their) as the new Rainbow Center Coordinator!  Their start date is Friday, December 3, 2021!  Take a look at our staff page that has been updated with Chris’ photo and information!

The Rainbow Center would like to extend a special thank you to all the members of the search committee, and to Angela Rola for serving as the chair.

Chris is a Black non-binary educator, writer, advocate, and coach with a passion for holistic wellness. They began their career in higher education, serving for 10 years focusing on counseling and student development, with an emphasis on supporting first-generation students of color as they enter and navigate the academy. Chris served as a Residence Director at Westfield State University and Central Connecticut State University, assisting students towards building equitable and just campus communities that prioritized social justice and individual development. 

Chris was formerly the Talent and Training Manager at Re-Center, whose mission is to activate youth and adults to drive transformative change towards racially just schools and communities in Connecticut. Chris received their masters in counselor education and a bachelors in English from Central Connecticut State University.

They were inspired to join the University of Connecticut’s Rainbow Center team due to a passion for creating and supporting academic systems that function as not only inclusive environments, but spaces that can meet the needs and honor the lived experience of all students. Chris takes the words of James Baldwin to heart, believing that “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced”, and uses these words as motivation for the critical social-justice work that remains to be done within communities.


Kelsey O’Neil


A Message from the RC & ODI regarding the recent bias incidents against the LGBTQIA+ community at UConn


Dear UConn students, staff, and faculty,

I am writing to you today to update you that this past month there were two separate reported bias incidents targeting the LGBTQIA+ community on UConn’s campus.

On March 16, an RA in Alumni Hall found images drawn on a dry-erase board in the lounge space. These images referenced the LGBTQIA+ community in a disparaging manner. The Residential Life staff communicated with and offered support to the complainant and other identified witnesses as well as wrote a community response which can be found here.

On March 20, it was reported that around 6:30pm a person in a car driving on North Eagleville Road yelled a derogatory term out the vehicle window.  The Dean of Students Office and the Rainbow Center have reached out to the students targeted and offered support.

I would like to thank all of the individuals who reported the above bias incidents.  University administration is following the bias response protocol. This protocol is designed to assure that there are designated places to report incidents and identify potential interventions to remedy harm done.

These acts of hate against the LGBTQIA+ community do not align with the University of Connecticut’s core values or the mission and values of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Rainbow Center.  LGBTQIA+ individuals comprise UConn’s students, staff, and faculty and are to be celebrated and affirmed as integral members of our global and diverse campus community.

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Rainbow Center want to ensure that those affected by these particular bias incidents receive appropriate support.  Below is a list of different resources available to students, staff, and faculty.  Additionally, the Rainbow Center has designated 1:1 meetings hours held this Wednesday, March 31, and Friday, April 2, for anyone who would like to meet with Kelsey O’Neil to discuss this matter.   Please email the Rainbow Center at to reserve your space.   Furthermore, anyone wanting to learn more about queer theory/scholarship can also access the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department website.

A list of resources to consult:


Kelsey O’Neil, Director, Rainbow Center

Dr. Frank Tuitt, Vice President/Chief Diversity Officer

A message from the Dean of Students Office about its role and how it can help you

For the past several semesters, the Assistant Deans at the Dean of Students Office would have drop-in hours at the various cultural centers.  Due to the pandemic, those in-person drop-in sessions have come to a halt.  In response, the Assistant Deans of DOS have prepared a short 7-minute video that details their passion for their work, the Office’s role at the university, and how the Office can help you as a student at UConn.

Meet Paula Wilmot, Luz Burgos-López, and Kim Duby at:


Please meet our new Graduate Assistant, Ashley Reed!

Greetings Everyone and Happy Friday,

I wanted to take a moment to virtually introduce you all to the Rainbow Center’s new HESA Graduate Assistant, Ashley Reed.  Ashley’s pronouns are she/her/hers. 

Ashley Reed's headshot

The Rainbow Center is very excited to welcome Ashley who was previously working as a Graduate Hall Director in Residence Life at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.  She graduated from Rollins College in 2018 with a major in Social Entrepreneurship and a minor in Spanish.   Ashley is passionate about diversity and equity and empowering people to create their own authentic stories. In her free time, Ashley enjoys anything fitness related, traveling, cooking, trying new restaurants, and spending hours on YouTube.  Ashley will begin working remotely on Monday Aug. 3rd.  Please do not hesitate to send Ashley a quick email (see her contact information at the staff bio webpage) welcoming her to the team or connect her with any of our colleagues as we navigate working remotely.  Thank you in advance.


Kelsey O’Neil, Director

Two new articles in UConn Today re the LGBTQIA+ community

UConn Today has recently published two articles on pertinent topics within our community:

A Welcome Environment for Transgender Patients” features Britta Shute, a family medicine nurse practitioner who has also lectured for the Rainbow Center as a part of our Out to Lunch Lecture Series! In the article, Shute talks about the importance of gender affirming healthcare and touches on some of the avenues offered through UConn Health.

Many LGBTQ Teens Report Bullying that Extends Beyond Their Sexual and Gender Orientations” details a new study by researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

A Statement from the Rainbow Center

Today, June 1st, marks the beginning of Pride Month. The first pride was a riot led by black and brown trans women fighting back against police brutality. The Rainbow Center is writing to the UConn community to state how important it is to acknowledge that it is systemic racism, anti-blackness, white supremacy, and police brutality that led to the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. It is vital that we not only acknowledge this reality but move forward with action.

The Rainbow Center would like to encourage everyone to attend the Virtual Town Hall being held by the African American Cultural Center on Thursday June 4, 2020.  The RC is currently compiling resources for folx who want to do more to combat racism.  We will be publishing a list of those resources shortly on our website.  If you have suggestions please email,

A Letter to the UConn Community

To:  A Letter to the UConn Community

From: Asian American Cultural Center, African American Cultural Center, Rainbow Center, Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, Women’s Center, Native American Cultural Programs, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, El Instituto, Africana Studies Institute, Human Rights Institute, Dodd Center, Center for Judaic Studies, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, American Studies Program, International Student & Scholar Services, and Office for Diversity and Inclusion

As the concerns about the COVID-19 virus rapidly increase on a daily basis, we want to acknowledge how this pandemic is impacting members of our community differently.

  • There has been a rise of incidents of anti-Asian racism in our local community, our state, our nation and worldwide. Asian and Asian Americans have been subjected to verbal and physical attacks, cyberbullying, discrimination against their businesses, and xenophobic portrayals.  We would like to firmly state that such acts of hate will not be tolerated in our community. Such acts only further perpetuate the cycle of violence and fuel white supremacy. We encourage those who have experienced bias of any kind to report the incidents at
  • Going home is not safe for everyone.  For some family, partners, and/or guardians may be abusive.  For support around gender-based violence, please visit the Title IX website at   
  • Going home is not an option for everyone.  Many of our International students are facing travel restrictions that preclude them from leaving and/or returning to the US.  We encourage you to participate in the University’s Town Hall on April 14th to share your concerns and suggestions.
  • We would like to acknowledge that many folx may be isolated from supportive networks during this time of physical distancing. For many LGBTQIA+ students, returning home may have required concealing one’s true identity in order to survive in a space with family members/others who are not affirming/safe.  Connecting to positive resources, people, organizations, and leaders at this time can be helpful.  Visit the Cultural Centers’ websites to learn about the different opportunities for support available to you.
  • As the concerns about the COVID-19 virus keeps rapidly changing, more and more anti-immigrant sentiment keeps also growing. Unfortunately, a political narrative of a “foreign threat” has accompanied information about the spread of the virus. This anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic speech is wrong and dangerous. The political environment of the pandemic has given rise to hateful conspiracy theories and disinformation meant to scapegoat Asians and Jews, along with Israel and China internationally.  We stand in solidarity with our international students, our Asian American students, our undocumented and DACAmented students. In particular, we acknowledge our undocumented and DACAmented students who continue to face the threat of deportation while negotiating the constraints of the pandemic. As if these conditions were not difficult enough, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on the DACA case in the upcoming months, putting additional strain on our DACAmented friends, peers, and family members.

Additionally reports can be made to the following websites:

OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates – Hate Incident Reporting 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council – Stop AAPI Hate

Southern Law Poverty Center Reporting

Students have shared with us how vulnerable and targeted they are feeling.  We are aware that many of our students are facing unemployment, limited access to health care, and other hardships.  We also understand that these experiences, coupled with isolation, may manifest in mental health related concerns as well.

We would like you all to know that you do not need to navigate these difficult times alone and that we will stand and work with you to get through this together.  If you find yourself feeling disconnected or not supported in your current living arrangements, please reach out to us.

You all are citizens of UConnNation, and in this nation, we do not discriminate, we do not use a narrative of hate, we are citizens that stand in solidarity with one another.  Now is the time for us to be safe, be compassionate and empathetic towards each other, particularly those who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus and be engaged citizens. We would like to remind each and every individual that they are valued and needed in this world.

The Cultural Centers staff are available to discuss any COVID-19 concerns you may have.

Asian American Cultural Center Website

African American Cultural Center Website

Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center Website

Rainbow Center Website

Women’s Center Website

On-campus resources and updated information about the COVID-19 virus, can be found  at

Rainbow Center 2nd update re COVID-19

Hello everyone. We hope you are all taking care of yourselves and each other during these tumultuous and unprecedented times. We would like to provide you with an update about how the Rainbow Center plans to move forward through the end of the semester:

  • The Rainbow Center will be closed until further notice. Our professional staff will be telecommuting as schedules allow in order to continue providing support for ALL UConn students, staff, and faculty. Kelsey and Steven will each hold virtual drop-in office hours for folks who are looking to connect and get support. Individuals can sign up for a Zoom video call using their Calendly links listed below. Appointments last 15 minutes for Steven and 30 minutes for Kelsey. Folks are also still welcome to email the professional staff at and we can provide assistance that way as well.
  • All Rainbow Center sponsored events are henceforth cancelled, including our annual Drag Show and Lavender Graduation. Although we are deeply saddened to cancel these events, we are looking into online forms of programming and more information to follow in the coming weeks about what that might entail.
    • During this time, the folx at the Rainbow Center will be developing a way to honor and celebrate our Lavender Graduates. As such, we will be extending the deadline to register for Lavender Graduates through April 24th. Since one of the avenues we are considering will be to mail out to the UConn graduates a stole and rainbow tassel, our registration form will have an updated space to include a mailing address (safe recipient name, street address, city, town, zip). The nomination form for awards has also been extended through March 31st. The Lavender Graduation webpage can be found at 
    • Although all HIV/HepC testing dates at the Rainbow Center have been cancelled, our testing provider has made another arrangement for folx to be tested for HIV. Unfortunately, the HepC in-home testing is not available. Perception Programs is able to offer a free take home test for individuals who would like to know their HIV status. Perceptions Programs can mail it to you at your address (within the USA) free of charge. They will have to collect some basic information for record keeping which is the same information that they gather at the testing days normally at Rainbow Center. This test is an oral swab that will give you results in 20 minutes. It will start picking up HIV 3 months after exposure. Additional information on the test can be found at If you are interested you can call or text 860-208-0888 or you can email
  • We have posted a list of resources on our website that are available to the LGBTQIA+ community in response to COVID-19 at We encourage you to browse through these resources in addition to those put out from the University of Connecticut, the Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.
  • Students enrolled in UNIV 2500 Gender, Sexuality, and Community should look for email communications from Professor O’Neil regarding on-line assignments. The public portion of the Out to Lunch Lectures (OTL) are canceled through the end of the semester.

We are all adjusting to this new, online world of social distancing. Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other. Take deep breaths. We will get through this together. Know that those of us at the Rainbow Center are still here to support you through this!

Rainbow Center update re COVID-19

Hello everyone.

By now, many of you have probably seen the most recent UConn communication about COVID-19. In light of this news, we would like to take this moment to address some questions we have been getting:

  • The Rainbow Center will be closed beginning Friday, March 13th at 5:00pm to all outside business until at least April 6. Our professional staff will be telecommuting as schedules allow in order to continue providing support for ALL UConn students, staff, and faculty. We will provide further information via our website about what this will look like next week.
  • All Rainbow Center sponsored events until April 6 are being cancelled and/or postponed. We will keep you updated regarding new dates for our events when we have that information to share.
  • For students who are looking to remain on campus, we recommend reading the email that was sent to you from Residence Life and follow their directions by logging onto your MyHousing account and submit a March 23 – April 5 housing request form. If you, or someone you know, is concerned because going “home” isn’t a safe/affirming option for them to return or stay at until April 6, please also contact the Rainbow Center professional staff at with the subject line “Student Housing Concern” and we can help them make arrangements. As discussed at the Town Hall Meeting earlier today, students who are concerned about financial security during this time should connect with the Financial Aid Office. Folks may also contact the Rainbow Center professional staff at the email address above to keep us informed so that we may assist as needed.
  • Students enrolled in Univ 2500 Gender, Sexuality, and Community should look for email communications from Professor O’Neil regarding on-line assignments. The public portion of the Out to Lunch Lectures (OTL) are canceled until at least April 6.

This has been a long and stressful week for every husky at UConn. Please remember that we are all looking out for each other. Take some time today to take care of yourself. Put away your phone and laptops for a couple minutes. Listen to music. Go for a walk. Do some deep breathing exercises. We will get through this together and the Rainbow Center will still be here to support you through this.

Rainbow Center Staff