Danny Reinan, Staff Writer
In early June, Maxwell Poessnecker, who uses he/him and they/them pronouns, joined Augsburg’s staff as the new LGBTQIA+ Student Services director. He previously served as the director of LGBTQ Services at Century College. Even though he held a similar position at Century, Poessnecker feels that there is a clear difference between the work he did there and the work he will be doing at Augsburg.
“I was getting burnt out doing foundational 101 stuff.” Poessnecker also felt demoralized in the role because of his identity. “I was feeling tokenized and isolated being the only trans-identified staff member on campus,” he said. “There was a lot of opposition.” This opposition was a large motive in his decision to move to Augsburg. “I wanted to be on a campus where everything I did wasn’t a fight. I wanted to work at an institution where I wasn’t the only queer or trans person.” Augsburg seemed like the right place because of its reputation for equity and inclusion. “What really drove me here was the students,” said Poessnecker.
Max has been connecting with other organizations and departments, both on and off-campus for collaborations. One of these collaborations is with the Strommen Center, who he will be working with to host a Queering Careers panel. At this panel, queer panelists with careers in a variety of sectors, such as STEM, education and business, will share their navigational strategies and experiences. This panel will be a starting point for a series of monthly site visits to queer-owned businesses such as Urban Growler, Jackalope Tattoo and Real Life Coffee & Yoga. Poessnecker has also established a partnership with Solcana Fitness, a queer-owned, feminist-minded and social justice-focused gym. Solcana will open up their doors to allow Augsburg students to work out in a space where they will be welcomed and accommodated.
Poessnecker also wants to work with the Marketing Department to create a template for faculty and staff to indicate preferred pronouns on their business cards and email signatures. “Hopefully this can challenge some of the binary mindsets we have on campus.” Another project is to adjust the signage for gender-neutral restrooms on campus, as the current signage is still reflective of a binary outlook. “I want something that is more reflective of what is actually in that space,” he said.
Poessnecker knows that the work he does is vital to creating an inclusive and liberating environment for students. “When I was a college student, I didn’t have anyone who looked like me or who I felt I could have conversations about my identity with. I want students to know that I always have an open door policy. I want to help them brainstorm what a radically liberated institution looks like for them. I want students to know that queerness is beautiful and that they deserve to take up space by virtue of being queer, trans, people of color… whatever sorts of identities they occupy.”
The LGBTQIA+ Student Services Office is located in the Auggie’s Nest in the basement of the Christensen Center. The LGBTQIA+ Student Services Office can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Poessnecker can be contacted at email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the September 27, 2019 issue.