The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI Pride House program coordinator steps down after six years

Emma Welch accepted a job at the University of Minnesota after nearly six years at the Pride House.
Cody Blissett
A pride flag is seen during the 2023 Pride Parade & Festival in downtown Iowa City on Saturday, June 17, 2023.

After nearly six years, the program coordinator for the University of Iowa’s Pride Alliance Center Emma Welch stepped down from her position.

Welch said she felt “inauthentic” working for a state actively creating legislation that affects LGBTQ+ individuals. The departure deeply impacted those who worked with and were mentored under her at the Pride House, with many reflecting on the passion she put into her role.

“I know that the university, they do what they can to show up for their students and their communities,” Welch said. “There are simply barriers and parameters, in which for me personally, I started to feel like the work that I was doing wasn’t as authentic as I wanted it to be.”

Fenix Lara, UI second-year student and student coordinator at the Pride Alliance Center said, they don’t think anyone could ever match the kind of energy and empathy that Emma has.

Welch announced her departure in early January, taking a job as Assistant Director for Student Life at the University of Minnesota. She will work closely with student government and with programs such as Parent and Family Weekend. Diego Rodriguez, UI director of Multicultural and International Student Support and Engagement, is serving as the interim coordinator of the center.

She said her decision to leave the UI was “one of the hardest, if not the hardest decision” she has made for her career. But she said expanding her career out of Iowa was the best decision for her.

Welch expressed praise for the state government in Minnesota. She said she will continue supporting students of all identities and backgrounds through the work in her new role.

“Minnesota, which is where I am now, has a very supportive environment, not only on campus but throughout the state,” Welch said.

While working at the UI, Welch worked to provide direct support to LGBTQ+ students. Her support ranged from providing academic and mental health resources to engaging with students about their lives.

Welch also assisted in the supervision of a multitude of Pride House events and programs and took part in campus-wide initiatives within student life.

Some of her favorite events that she worked on were Rainbow Graduation and the clothing closet that recently was added to the Pride House.

“All of the affinity graduations hold a very near and dear place in my heart. I hold them with such high regard,” Welch said. “I think they are such an important and valuable experience that this institution has been able to provide to students and remember graduation celebrations.”

Not only did Welch reminisce on her favorite events, but she said her favorite parts of the job were her colleagues and the student community.

Welch described the multicultural and international student support and engagement department, or MISSE, as transformational for student groups at the university. She also acknowledged the continuous areas of support, celebration, and unity that the MISSE community provided for students.

“I think that we would all agree that finding a sense of belonging is of the utmost importance right now, and feeling like you belong is critical, for well-being and academic retention,” Welch said.

Hunter Wienke, coordinator of the Latino Native American Cultural Center, worked with Welch through the MISSE program. Wienke said Welch became a friend, welcoming him in as the newest coordinator to the team.

“I could always count on Emma to be the first person to respond to a call for assistance, or just to be someone to help me out when I was experiencing something for the first time,” Wienke said.  “Emma was also the person always producing new ideas and pushing us to try new things as well. She was never afraid and always up to the challenge of fighting for our students.”

Lara said one of the biggest reasons they applied for the student coordinator position was because of Welch, who had quickly become their mentor figure at the Pride House.

After finding out Welch was leaving the university, Lara said there were a few tears, but they knew that Welch would continue to keep in touch with the community.

Welch said she hopes the university faculty and staff will continue to spread love and support to students. She hopes students will continue to recognize and remember that their presence is important at the university.

“I have faith that everyone will move forward through unity, that’s my goal and my hope,” Welch said.

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About the Contributor
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.