In 1991, Don Stenta attended a national student affairs conference in Atlanta, GA, as a University of Vermont graduate student. He met Scott Boden, a residence hall director at Boston College, and they began an enduring relationship that brought them to The Ohio State University.
Don has been with Ohio State for 24 years. He serves as the Director of Recreational Sports in the Office of Student Life. Scott has been with Ohio State since 1994 and serves as the Associate Director of Residence Life in the Office of Student Life.
Over more than two decades, Scott and Don have seen the evolution of marriage equality and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights come to life through their university experiences.
An early struggle for the couple, mirroring the climate of the nation at the time, was being able to live together in university housing as an unmarried same-sex couple. “There was no ill will from the university,” Don said. “It was just a point in time when policy did not align with the community’s passion and energy.”
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Don and Scott received tremendous support from the university. “Ohio State has always actively supported us as a couple,” Don said. “Leaders would ask us directly: ‘How can we help you?’ That meant a lot, especially at a time when it really mattered in this country.”
They believe the university continues to be an increasingly supportive place for students, faculty and staff. Don has seen a fundamental shift in the university from “accommodating” all to championing a fully inclusive community.
They attribute that progress to students. “Improvements to campus culture rests on the shoulders of students,” Scott said. “They change our environment. I give a lot of credit to our students.”
The university disseminates knowledge to students, but Don and Scott believe what the university receives, in turn, from its students is nothing short of transformational. A university community, they said, is a reflection of its students’ mindsets. “I look up to them and their worldview. They arrive on campus with an inspiring level of awareness,” Scott said.
In September 2015, Scott and Don married—almost 25 years after their first meeting in Atlanta and just months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.
Their favorite aspect of sharing Ohio State as an employer is the vast professional and personal network they have established. They seldom interact with each other in their respective university roles, so they enjoy meeting one another’s colleagues and friends. “When we ask each other about our days, we learn things about the university that we wouldn’t otherwise know,” Scott said.
They recommend other Ohio State couples get to know as many people as possible—from all levels of the university. “At the end of the day, it’s about building, maintaining and cultivating relationships,” Don said.
Scott agreed. “We are better off because of the people we know here.”