Pride Alliance Center to open a new location this fall

The UI Pride Alliance Center found a new permanent location at 601 Melrose Avenue after months working out of the Pride Lounge in Iowa Memorial Union.


Matt Sindt

The new Pride Alliance Center is seen on Melrose Avenue in Iowa City on Wednesday, March 12, 2023.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Pride Alliance Center will open its new location at 601 Melrose Ave. this fall after having its initial location closed.

Originally, the Pride Alliance Center operated out of 125 Grand Ave. Court before a temporary closure and a move to the Iowa Memorial Union. The news of the move comes after the state Board of Regents approved the university’s request to raze the Grand Avenue Court building.

Map by Jami Martin-Trainor/The Daily Iowan

Pride Alliance Center Coordinator Emma Welch said the center was informed about the university’s construction plan for razing the previous Pride Alliance Center building and how it would impact its operations.

“The university had identified another house for the Pride Alliance Center in acknowledging that we’ve operated out of a house, and so to keep the Pride Alliance Center as a legacy center, the university identified another house on the west side of campus,” Welch said.

The new location will keep the symbolic red door from the previous location.

“The red door has become, for many students who frequent the pride house, an iconic staple of the Pride Alliance Center,” Welch said. “Especially with the imagery of National Coming Out Day, doors are relatively important in our community.”

Additionally, Welch said students will be able to help choose the design and décor for the home, including the color palette of the building and its rooms.

“I’m excited that we’ll have an opportunity to make this space what we have learned from our campus community that they need,” she said.

Welch said the Pride Alliance Center is working with campus contractors to create a sidewalk ramp and add railings to increase accessibility to the building.

“In this new space, I’m hopeful we’ll have more space so that folks can comfortably be in there for student org meetings and programming,” she said.

Paras Bassuk, a UI second-year student, was first introduced to the Pride Alliance Center by attending its programming during their first semester on campus.

“I met so many people through that that have stuck with me in various ways, and it felt like a kind of natural progression to work there because it was a place I wanted to spend more time in and have more reasons to attend,” Bassuk said.

At the end of their freshman year, Bassuk applied for a job at the Pride Alliance Center and was excited when they received the position as a programming assistant, they said.

While the first semester provided opportunities for learning everyday operations at the center, they said the second semester was different than anyone expected.

“We closed a week in because of mice,” Bassuk said. “There was a mouse infestation over winter break because it got cold, and the mice needed a place to stay.”

Bassuk said the mouse issue was challenging to face, and the staff at the Pride Alliance Center did much of the maintenance and recovery from the infestation.

“We kind of quickly realized it was bad beyond the scope of what we as a student staff could really take care of, and in the process realized it was also kind of beyond the scope of what the university was willing to take care of,” Bassuk said.

RELATED: UI Pride Alliance Center to open house on Melrose Avenue 

In the move to the IMU, Bassuk said, the Pride Alliance Center has been able to retain people who already regularly engaged, but it has been harder to reach new people with a less visible location.

“We are really looking forward to what will happen with the new place, but it definitely has been sad,” they said.

Bassuk said the excitement for the new house is underscored by the knowledge that not only is the former location not going to be the Pride House anymore but it is also going to be demolished.

“Although it doesn’t have legal historic status that protects it from being demolished, it is a building that has a history,” Bassuk said.

Bassuk said when the Pride Alliance Center was closed temporarily, one of the community’s first questions was if the Queer Trans Clothing Closet — often called the QT Closet — would continue running.

“One big change that I think we’re still trying to figure out how to navigate is that one of the things that was most significantly damaged in the mouse infestation was the QT Closet,” Bassuk said. “The closet had thousands of garments, and unfortunately, the majority of those clothes were deemed not recoverable by the risk assessment that we got from the university.”

Welch said the Pride Alliance Center will host clothing drives once the center moves into its new location.

The community support for the QT Closet has been inspiring, Welch said.

“We’ve had folks on campus and offices who have reached out even without knowing that a good chunk of our QT closet stock has been negatively impacted by this maintenance issue we’ve had,” Welch said.

UI first-year student Nia Garcea is a member of the All In Living Learning Community and first learned about the Pride Alliance Center from their resident assistant.

Garcea said they visited the Pride House at the start of the year but hasn’t seen the Pride Lounge location in the IMU.

“It’s nice having something that is clearly like, ‘We like the gays’, especially in a red state like Iowa,” Garcea said.