A hidden gem on campus: the open door closet

Hailey Roy Contributor

An outfit for the workplace, cold winter nights, college classes and a plethora of other occasions are available for college students at no cost in the Sexual and Gender Equality Center. 

“It’s one of the best-kept secrets on campus,” said 22-year-old S.A.G.E. Center Graduate Intern Brandon Iovene. “It really is surprising for some people who come in and are like wow! I can get several outfits and be able to clothe myself for any season, any occasion, any type of environment at any time.” 

Along with clothes, the open-door closet also supplies shoes in many sizes, tampons, pads, jewelry, face masks and other beauty/health products. 

The S.A.G.E. center only provides clean clothes to students. The clothes accepted are thoroughly checked for stains, rips or any other damages. The items containing damages are thrown away, although some items are given to other donation places.  

“We want to make sure any clothes we don’t use ourselves are donated to an ethical corporation that really prioritizes the similar missions we have,” Iovene said.  

The center plans on looking into more donation places and their ethics as they remove clothing from the closet that has been there for too long.  

“We want to make sure we’re bringing our places that people will really benefit,” Iovene said.  

Sociology major Rain Iaccarino, a junior, has donated to the open-door closet four times. 

“It’s pretty cool to donate. I’ve taken clothes from here before so it’s like a recycling system of you give back and then take things you want,” Iaccarino said.   

A huge part of the open-door closet is to provide gender-affirming clothing.  

“For a lot of our LGBTQ+ peers on campus, a lot of people are coming from different places which is why Southern is a very large community of intersexual identities,” Iovene said. “With that comes a lot of people questioning who they are, what their identity is and how they want to explore that and express that. Gender-affirming clothing is a huge aspect.” 

The closet has a large range of traditionally masculine clothing and traditionally feminine clothing.  

“A lot of students find the clothes to be very affirming for their own identities and it helps them get a concrete feel of how they want to present themselves in the world as they gain their independence in college,” Iovene explained. 

An 18-year-old freshman studying studio art with a concentration in jewelry Jasper Duman, a freshman, has used the open-door closet multiple times. 

“Having that help to find gender-affirming clothing for free has been extremely helpful,” Duman said. “It allows people who have been through many walks of life to pick out clothes free to them for whatever reason they need.”   

Dunman was shocked the first time he saw the open-door closet in the S.A.G.E. Center due to how full of clothes it was.  

Picking up items from the open door does not involve any questioning. Students can grab and go without having to give back anything in return. This is so students are not put in an uncomfortable situation. 

“We don’t want anyone to have to disclose that they might be experiencing financial insecurity or might not be able to have the resources to go out and get their own clothes,” Iovene said. “Being a college student is super expensive, so you want to make sure people have an opportunity to save money, focus on their academics but also have the stuff that they need.” 

 As of right now, the center wants to keep the momentum going. Additionally, they want to accelerate the closet. 

Currently, the S.A.G.E. Center is looking for winter clothing as well as professional clothing for the winter season. 

“We’re mainly going for more winter clothes. Jackets tend to be really expensive, and it could get pretty cold up here. We’re also looking for sweatpants and leggings or any long pants that are warm is also helpful,” Duman said. “We’re always looking for professional clothing for job interviews because professional clothing is very expensive.” 

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