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Ribbon cutting officially opens ECU's LGBTQ center

ECU's new LGBTQ center officially opened after a ribbon cutting on Saturday. (Tyler Hardin, NewsChannel 12 photo)

A ribbon cutting and lots of applause marked the official opening of the Dr. Jesse Peel LGBTQ Center right on the campus of East Carolina University.

The center is the largest in the UNC system. It’s all about providing a safe and welcoming environment that promotes acceptance. More than 100 people, including administration, faculty and students came out in support of ECU’s new center.

“It’s really kind of overwhelming,” Peel said. “We’ve been working on this project now for over eight years. The pride the kids had in their new space was just evident from right from the get-go”

Named after Dr. Peel, he hopes this new center will be a safe harbor for ECU Pirates.

“They come here to meet their friends, they can study here, they can socialize, this is not an event space,” Peel said. “This is home base, this is where you can come to and just hang out and be in right in the center of this great new student center.”

Moving from the Brewster Academic Building, the nearly 2,500-square foot center is now home on the second floor of the new Main Campus Student Center, which opened earlier this week. For senior Jahad Carter, getting involved in the center was kind of unexpected. Now, he volunteers and helps with the center’s educational programming, which includes a speaker and film series, alternative spring break program and more.

“I decided to just write something on it and when I was writing, I just kept coming back to the office and I just really, really fell in love with the people who are there,” Carter said. “I kind of got jealous because they’re just the family I just never experienced.”

Carter hopes the new space will encourage more students to stop by.

“A bigger platform just to show you're welcomed,” Carter said. “No matter who you are, no matter who you love, no matter what your gender is, you’re welcomed here.”

Peel said he hopes the mission of the center goes beyond the rainbow-colored walls.

“We’re going to be able to impact not only this university, but the community and the region and hopefully well beyond that,” Peel said.

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