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The Center for Race, Equity, and Identity (CREI)

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice > Updates

The Center for Race, Equity, and Identity (CREI) transforms lives through community building, education, engagement, and the exploration of identities. We strive to improve the institutional advancement of all marginalized students, specifically students of color, first-generation students, LGBTQIA+ students, and disabled students/students with disabilities.

What Are Affinity Spaces?

Historically, higher education was not designed for people who are marginalized. Affinity spaces at Goucher were created to designate intentional, holistic spaces for historically oppressed and marginalized students on campus. Spaces like these are found in institutions and communities globally to assure that all communities within a larger community can find a sense of belonging.

Sponsored by the Center for Race, Equity, and Identity (CREI), the student-led CREI Affinity Spaces seek to celebrate identity and create intentional space for connection, community, and joy.

Goucher’s Affinity Spaces

CREI currently facilitates seven affinity spaces: Accommodate This!, ASPIre, Beyond Pink & Blue, #BlackJoy, Brother to Brother, Lavender, and Nuestro Espacio. Meetings are held Tuesdays and Thursdays a minimum of three times a semester per group and are spaced out to be approximately once a month.

Please read below for a detailed description of each of the seven CREI Affinity Spaces.

Accommodate This! is exclusively for disabled students/students with disabilities, including but not limited to those with physical disabilities, those who are blind or have low vision, those who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, those who are neurodivergent (such as those with autism, dyslexia, developmental disabilities, and mental illness), and those with chronic illness.

ASPIre is exclusively for Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander, East Asian, and Middle Eastern students, including those who are biracial and multiracial/mixed.

Beyond Pink & Blue is exclusively for transgender, gender non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, two-spirit, and agender students.

#BlackJoy is exclusively for Black and/or African American students, including those who are biracial and multiracial/mixed.

Brother to Brother is exclusively for Students of Color who are men (cis, trans, non-binary, and those who are masculine-of-center). Brother to Brother is led by Juan M. Hernandez, Ph.D., assistant vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion, and Title IX.

Lavender is exclusively for LGBTQIA+ students (including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, gender non-binary, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, and same gender loving students).

Nuestro Espacio is exclusively for Latinx and/or Hispanic students, including those who are biracial and multiracial/mixed.

Assessing the Affinity Spaces

When the CREI Affinity Spaces were first introduced, they were offered as themed meetings guided by our CREI student staff. These were found to be less preferred in favor of more community-focused and open-space time held by the communities themselves.

Today, instead of planning specific discussions or themes for the meetings, our student staff instead ensures a space in which student attendees can be authentic, find time for self- and community-care, and do with the space as they see fit, which has been much better received by the students overall.

Following the return to campus in Fall 2021, the CREI Affinity Spaces have increased in popularity as students, hungry for community engagement, have begun to connect with the spaces and make them their own. CREI Affinity Spaces are growing, and attendance to each is close to 10-15 students right now.

The CREI Affinity Spaces are assessed each year to appropriately meet the needs of the various communities on campus that CREI serves.

Going Forward

CREI Affinity Spaces will continue to grow and shift individually to appropriately match the marginalized communities’ needs and desires, affording these communities autonomy and choice.

CREI Affinity Spaces are an ongoing and indefinite project as long as the need for them continues.


Gender Affirming Closet (GAC)

Because access to clothing that affirms one’s gender identity and expression is a huge barrier for transgender students, the Gender Affirming Closet (GAC) was created at Goucher. The GAC is a growing collection of donations created to give students free access to gender expression and gender-affirming items in a safe, welcoming environment.

Donation items include used, good condition clothing, binders, shapewear, shoes, and accessories as well as new makeup and undergarments. Many of these needed items are expensive, difficult, or even dangerous to access and can be an essential part of a student’s identity. The GAC provides these items for free in an accessible and welcoming space.

Who the GAC Is For

The target audience for the GAC is transgender, gender non-binary, agender, and gender non-conforming students or those who are questioning their gender identity and would like to explore what the GAC has to offer. Forty percent of Goucher students are LGBTQIA+; by having a free resource in a space that is welcoming and supportive of gender-diverse identities, we hope that students will feel empowered to be their most authentic selves and find items that best represent that.

The History of the GAC

The GAC was established in 2018 as a pop-up event during Transgender Awareness Week. Due to CREI’s smaller footprint at the time, the closet became a biyearly event. Once CREI moved to a larger office in 2021, the GAC became a permanent fixture, with students accessing the closet during office hours. First-year students delighted in the initiative and word spread among them quickly. GAC has helped to connect more students to CREI and the trans affirming services we provide.


Beyond the donated items, we have also set up a table within the center that features various resources, including but not limited to safe(r) sex materials, menstrual products, educational outreach materials, and brochures for local and national transgender affirming services. Additionally, in Fall 2021 we began a partnership with gc2b, a trans owned company committed to providing accessible, comfortable, and safe and affirming wear for all bodies. Gc2b has graciously provided us with a yearly shipment of free binders.

What’s Next

We strive to increase our donation items to be more inclusive of various sizes, skin tones (for binders) styles, and gender expressions. Because this is a donation-based initiative, there have been some challenges in supplying a wide range of items. We hope to continue partnering with companies that supply free or sliding scale items to better meet the needs of our students.

We will also be collaborating with the Office of Communications to create a resource booklet to support transgender and non-binary students.


The Listening Sessions: What Does It Mean To Be a Black Student on This Campus?

Following the hate vandalism in December 2022, many of our Black students have shared with us that their sense of community has been compromised. We understand the caution, frustration, and fear that these incidents, as well as blatant global racism, can have on the student experience. We remain committed to improving the lived experiences on campus for our current and future students.

The Center for Race, Equity, and Identity (CREI) will be hosting a six-week listening series called “The Listening Sessions: What does it mean to be a Black student on this campus?”

Six sessions are planned for the series for the Spring 2023 semester.

The Listening Sessions Format

Each week there will be a different topic with special guests from within the Goucher community who identify with the topic to facilitate the discussion. The sessions will be used to give detailed recommendations to the President’s Cabinet to further enhance the lived experiences of Black students at Goucher.

The target audience is Black students, but we do not turn anyone away. We do ask that faculty and staff who decide to attend do so with the intention of listening, as these stories are meant to be delivered to the president and his cabinet.

Another tenant in defining a community and a sense of belonging is connecting through commonalities. In these sessions, while facilitators are there to ask questions and listen, we also want to use the space to connect students with each other.


Affinity Graduation Ceremonies

Affinity Graduation Ceremonies honor the accomplishments and experiences of Goucher College graduates from historically marginalized and underserved communities. These ceremonies highlight the personal and academic successes that have shaped a student’s journey at Goucher. While celebrating common experiences, Affinity Graduation Ceremonies also provide an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and inspiration for our graduating seniors. Graduating Goucher students may participate in any and all Affinity Graduation Ceremonies that they identify with.

There are currently four ceremonies held just before the general Commencement Ceremony: the Donning of the Kente, Lavender, Latinx Trifuno, and InterConnect.

History of Goucher’s Affinity Graduation Ceremonies

Originally, Goucher College hosted one affinity ceremony, the Donning of the Kente, introduced by Kimberley Gordy ’06. At the time, the ceremony acted as a rite of passage, rooted in African tradition, and also presented the occasion for Black students to pay homage to those who have paved the way prior to and during their time at Goucher.

Goucher held its first Lavender Ceremony, at the time called “Rainbow Reception,” in 2008. By 2016, the Donning of the Kente and the Lavender Ceremony were planned and facilitated by the Center for Race, Equity, and Identity.

The Office of Global Education (formerly spearheaded by the Center for Race, Equity, and Identity) began honoring international students with a senior reception in the spring of 2018.

In 2019, Latinx students and faculty requested a ceremony to center the experiences, successes, and identities of those who identify as Hispanic and Latino/a/x. The Center for Race, Identity, and Identity; Futuro Latino Learning Center faculty; and Latinx seniors work together to create a beautiful ceremony that recognizes the logró (achievement) of our valued graduates.

Each ceremony, annually, has an increasing turnout of students participating in one or more of them. These ceremonies have grown not only in who they serve but also in their capacity to serve, allowing us to uplift and celebrate that much more of our Goucher community.

The Donning of the Kente

The Donning of the Kente is a ceremony held to uplift and celebrate graduating Students of Color. Kimberley Gordy ’06 explains that “the essence of the ceremony is people sharing their stories. It holds a special meaning for Goucher community members of color because of our connection to African history and of the importance of looking back as you look forward (Ross, 2009).” Over the years, the ceremony has grown significantly to represent the collective unity of people of color (Black, Asian, Latinx, Native, First Nations, Middle Eastern, Multiracial/Biracial) at Goucher College as a way to pay tribute to their own unique heritages, experiences, and achievements. In 2021, the Donning of the Kente also allowed students to use flag stoles of their choosing along with Kente and serape stoles.

The Lavender Ceremony

The Lavender Ceremony is an annual celebration conducted on numerous campuses to honor LGBTQOA+ students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the college. During the ceremony, students share their hopes and dreams with one another and are recognized for their leadership, successes, and achievements.

The Latinx Trifunos Ceremony

The Latinx Trifunos Ceremony reflects the unity of our students who identify as Hispanic and Latino/a/x while embracing the nuanced differences of cultures. Latinx Triunfos centers the experiences of Latinx students as vital members of the Goucher community.

The InterConnect Ceremony

The InterConnect Ceremony honors international students and students who strongly identify as having an international background and to acknowledge their experience at Goucher. The ceremony recognizes how far students have traveled both geographically as well as culturally to be successful. International students and students who strongly identify as having an international background have made Goucher home for a number of years.

Next Steps

For May 2023, the Affinity Graduation Ceremonies will be expanded to include a ceremony dedicated to uplifting and celebrating our disabled graduating Goucher students.

The Center for Race, Equity, and Identity will host information sessions in March and April 2023 to both educate on and gauge interest in the Affinity Graduation Ceremonies as well as gain feedback to ensure that the ceremonies reflect the needs and wants of the graduating seniors.