Queer Year One (QY1), a cohort program for first year students who identify as queer, transgender, non-binary or stand allied with the LGBTQ community, had their first meeting Jan. 18.

Rather than focusing on the student’s identity, the program’s mission is to help members ease into life at UNC Charlotte during their first year as a freshman or transfer student.

“It’s about coming to UNCC and getting engaged with the campus and in the community,” said QY1 Graduate Assistant Elizabeth Tate.

The goal of the program is that the members will find their next level of involvement with the school whether it’s joining Spectrum, the undergraduate LGBTQ student organization on campus, or something different such as a sports club, by the end of the year.

“We want them to understand that they can be queer and trans in multiple spaces. Our goal is not necessarily to get them into an identity group. It’s to get them into a group that makes the most sense,” said Assistant Director of the Multicultural Resource Center Joshua Burford.

Prior to QY1, the University only offered Spectrum as a community for LGBTQ students. Burford soft launched QY1 in Fall 2013. He ran a similar program at the University of Alabama, but had to modify the program when he brought it to UNC Charlotte so that it would accomodate the needs of an urban university with a large commuter presence.

“I think LGBT students especially, even the students who are out, are not used to coming to a campus this size and then having to navigate the difficulty of finding other LGBT students,” said Burford.

This year, the cohort has four computer science majors who Tate believes may have not met without the program.

Fifthteen students attended the first meeting of the semester. Tate says the group is looking forward to doing community service projects and spent the majority of the first meeting planning what they want to do the rest of the semester.

If interested in joining Queer Year One, the next meeting is Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in Student Union room 261.

Alexandria Sands is the Niner Times' community editor. She is a senior majoring in Communication Studies with a double minor in Journalism and English. Her work has been published in Charlotte magazine, The Charlotte Business Journal, Creative Loafing, The Gaston Gazette, The Shelby Star and The State Port Pilot. When she's not in the newsroom, you can catch her reading a book at her home in Oak Island. Reach her at community@ninertimes.com or @alexsands_.