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Garrett Potokar

Garrett Potokar, Weber State’s first LGBTQ+ student senator, is making history at the university as an advocate for students who have not been represented in the past. 

“A lot of other groups have senators, which is amazing,” Potokar said. “I think every group should be represented in the senate and that every student deserves a voice. LGBT students didn't have a voice beforehand.”
Potokar, born and raised in North Ogden, is a sophomore working on a bachelor's degree in professional sales with an emphasis in computer technology. He chose Weber State because of the outstanding sales program and the convenience to his home. 

While working as a graphic designer for the Weber State University Student Association (WSUSA), Potokar realized there was little LGBTQ+ representation in the group. 

“I saw there were changes that needed to be made, and I've had past leadership positions,” Potokar said. “As part of the student senate, I wanted to help pass legislation, get things going and make campus a safer space for everyone.”

Potokar is determined to make Utah a place where queer people feel represented. Growing up in a religious family, Potokar has love and respect for those with religious beliefs, but recognizes that queer people need areas where they can feel safe. Only a year ago, Potokar first came out to a co-worker at the elementary library where he worked, because it was a space where he felt he could be himself. 

“When I was coming out and realizing my sexuality, I felt like I didn't have any safe spaces to turn to, and it's terrifying realizing those things about you,” Potokar said. “To have spaces set up around campus for people who might be realizing they're LGBT or who already know they are, that’s worth its weight in gold.”

Weber State’s LGBT Resource Center coordinator Jayson Stokes said there hadn’t been an LGBTQ+ student senate position because the federal government and the university do not track the LGBTQ+ student population, so there was no systematic way to identify a constituency to be able to vote in the election. In order to create the seat, the student senate worked hard to revise the WSUSA constitution. Students can now self-identify as part of the LGBTQ+ constituency or as an ally and cast a vote in the race.

In order to move forward quickly for spring 2022, Potokar was selected through an interview process and took over in the inaugural role. A number of candidates have already put forward their names to run for the seat in the 2022-23 school year.
“I believe this position represents progression in diversity and inclusion for all students on campus,” said Maren Dawson, WSUSA executive vice president. 

Potokar has already begun holding monthly town hall meetings to help LGBTQ+ students feel represented on campus. He’s also passed two pieces of legislation to make it easier for students to change their names and identifying pronouns, and to provide easier access to LGBTQ+ resources. 

“It's been amazing being in close collaboration with constituents and senators alike. It’s truly been a labor of love from not just me, but also from everyone I've worked with,” Potokar said. “I've really been able to hit the ground running, and passing such large legislation in this little time has been exhilarating.”

Stokes said Garrett's drive and passion serve as a great example at the university.

“Through his leadership, he demonstrates how students can be fully engaged and interact with their peers and the rest of the university community to bring about change and a stronger community. He is a great role model of how to build consensus, learn about the experience of others and advocate for his fellow students.”

"Every student deserves a voice."