Flag raising

Will Van Roosenbeek, director of UWL's Pride Center, speaks prior to the raising of the Rainbow Pride Flag.

UWL joins state capitol with Rainbow Pride Flag raising

Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order last week calling for the raising of the Rainbow Pride Flag at the state’s Capitol inspired UWL’s Pride Center to request the raising of the flag at UW-La Crosse.  

UWL faculty, staff and others gathered Tuesday morning at the Veterans Memorial Monument at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex to raise the flag. 

“This is a small step forward, but I think it is a great one,” said Willem Van Roosenbeek, UWL’s Pride Center director. 

The flag will remain raised through June at the site in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month. Prior to the flag raising, Van Roosenbeek thanked the governor and campus administrators. 

“Having the support of the governor and the campuses is important,” he said. “The LGBTQ community continues to struggle with harassment, discrimination, violence and suicide. Being seen and celebrated is crucial.” 

Van Roosenbeek says the symbolism is important because this year is the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, a series of violent confrontations between police and LGBTQ rights activists in 1969. Also, this fall is the 25th anniversary of the Pride Center opening at UWL — one of the first three to open in the UW System, he explained. 

Over the years UWL has become a leader in LGBTQ+ equality. In fall 2018, UWL was ranked one of the most inclusive campuses for LGBTQ students in the nation. AffordableCollegesOnline.org (ACO) ranked UW-La Crosse No. 6 among the Top LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges for 2018-19. 

The UW-La Crosse Pride Center was one of the reasons UWL ranked so high. AffordableCollegesOnline.org noted: “The UWL Pride Center not only provides this environment for LGBTQ+ students, but also seeks to spread awareness for LGBTQ+ issues and how they pertain to campus life and culture.” 

UWL Pride Center,  located in the second floor of the Student Union, in The COVE area, aims to provide educational opportunities and resources for UWL’s students, faculty and staff including ally workshops, trainings, clubs, panels, books, documentaries, speakers, and student-led programs on current issues in our community. The center’s mission is to foster a safe environment for all LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff, educate the campus and community on issues, and advocate for student success and inclusivity.