Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.09.13
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to email@example.com
1. The Cavalier Daily (University of Virginia) - College ACB raises concerns
2. New Britain Herald - CCSU opens lounge for gay/lesbian students
3. The Smith College Sophian - Opinion - Sex and the Smithie: It's Cool to be Queer
4. The Maine Campus - Maine to vote on gay marriage in Nov.
5. St. Petersburg Times - USF will offer domestic partner benefits, school president says
6. Chimes (Calvin College) - Calvin reacts to Board of Trustees’ memo
7. Daily Texan Online - Carnival acquaints students with queer community
8. The Spectator (University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire) - Creating safe spaces: LGBTQA groups work to create awareness, educate students
9. The Daily Texan - Gay rights groups prepare for rally, pursuing equality
1. The Cavalier Daily, September 8, 2009
University of Virginia, PO Box 400703, Charlottesville, VA
College ACB raises concerns
By Bridget O'Brien
The College Anonymous Confession Board, a Web site commonly known as College ACB, has recently raised concerns on Grounds.
Even though a number of potentially derogatory posts, such as sorority rankings and racial slurs, have been noted on the site in the past, a recent list of possibly gay students heightened tensions among several University community members, especially those listed on the board.
The College ACB site consists of student-run message boards composed entirely of anonymous posts in which students can both comment and vote on the messages of other posters from their colleges.
“It’s basically just to promote a student controlled space where people can say whatever they want without fear of social backlash,” said Peter Frank, current owner of College ACB and freshman at Weslyean University. Frank said the anonymity allows students to ask questions they might normally be too embarrassed to ask.
“It might be embarrassing to ask your friends like a sex question or a relationship question, whereas if you’re anonymous, it’s not a big deal,” he said.
With a home page for each individual college, the content varies from college to college. At Wesleyan, for instance, the site became a hub for student groups and campus events and was especially useful as a way for people to use information and share updates during the school shootings in May, Frank said. He admitted, however, that mean-spirited comments have been found on some college boards within the site.
“For some schools, it’s ACB; for many schools, it’s just the new JuicyCampus,” Frank explained.
To help monitor boards and yet allow for free expression, Frank said posts are immediately taken down if specific people are mentioned.
“We don’t like to monitor it too much … because it’s a student space and it’s entirely user driven, and I don’t want to stick my hand in and influence discussion in any way,” he said.
Even with Frank’s careful monitoring, though, potentially controversial comments can make their way onto the site. Some University students recently discovered that they were on a list of possibly gay students on the College ACB forum.
Third-year College student Reginald Benbow said that even though he is openly gay, he took offense when he saw his name on the list last week. Moreover, he wondered why anyone would bother to post his name, noting that he is “out and open and it’s on Facebook.”
D’Won Walker, a third-year College student and a straight student on the list, also found the list offensive, but added that he did not take it too seriously, noting that the assertions were “silly.”
Both Benbow and Walker said they hope that Student Council will issue a resolution against the site, with Benbow suggesting that the site should hold students accountable for their comments by requiring them to register their legal names with the site. A student petition against the site to block it from University computers may be helpful as well, he added. Last year, a similar condemnation of JuicyCampus was issued.
“Posting libelous gossip about your fellow students does not promote a community of trust,” he said.
Frank said he also believes blocking the site within the University computer system is a good idea.
“I’m pretty sure a few colleges have blocked it on their level,” he added.
But Dean of Students Allen Groves said these concerns deal with a touchy freedom of speech issue, noting that the University can only block the Web site if it becomes a serious public safety issue.
“Our consistent advice to students has been to stop logging onto the site if they find its content offensive, and if enough students do that, the impact of the site — and its lifespan — will be very limited,” Groves said. “Sites like [ACB] generally price and sell advertising based on the number of visits to the site, so lower student traffic should mean a less viable commercial enterprise for the site’s operators.”
Though ACB brings in revenue, Frank noted that it is less popular than JuicyCampus.
“I’d say it’s around three-quarters the popularity of JuicyCampus,” he said, noting that the site receives about 500,000 visitors daily.
“I would say [College ACB is] not very popular [at the University],” Benbow said. “I mean, I don’t know that many people use it.”
- Katherine Raichlen contributed to this article.
2. New Britain Herald, September 9, 2009
1 Herald Square, New Britain, CT 06050
CCSU opens lounge for gay/lesbian students
Over a hundred people packed the tiny TCC lounge on the second floor of Central Connecticut State University’s Student Center Wednesday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the school’s new LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) lounge on the Student Center’s third floor.
“This has been in the works for years,” said Sarah Rine, the school’s assistant director of Student Activities and Leadership Development.
One of the people crowding the TCC lounge was alumna Lesley Hubbard, who graduated last May.
“I was the co-founder of the ‘1 in 10’ committee,” a reference to the oft-quoted “One out of every ten people are gay” statistic. “This is huge. This is the university’s commitment to the LGBT community, and recognition that LGBT students and faculty are here, and are a part of this community.”
University President Jack Miller cut through the pale blue ribbon stretching across the bottom of the stairway leading from the TCC lounge to the third floor; the LGBT center occupies a small room off the third-floor common area. It’s a small room with a couple of comfortable chairs and two bookshelves filled with LGBT titles; Hubbard said some of the books were donated, but most were purchased by the Student Activities and Leadership Development Fund.
At the Student Center’s Alumni Hall Cheryl Jacques, who served as Massachusetts’ first openly gay state senator, said in a speech that the LGBT center “marks yet another small step in the long journey to full equality.”
“We are literally at a crossroads in this country,” she said, “writing another chapter in the book about civil rights.”
Jacques, who is half Irish, recalled her grandmother talking about her mother, who had a college degree (a rarity in that era), yet could only find work as a servant because, upon arriving in America, she saw a plethora of “Irish need not apply” signs. “I’m from Boston, a city where Irish rule ... it’s surreal to think of them being discriminated against.” Jacques predicts that at some point — though she cannot say when — the thought of anti-gay discrimination will seem as surreal to Americans as “No Irish Need Apply” appears now.
Jacques mentioned other civil rights battles Americans fought and won within living memory: as recently as the 1970s, she said, it was illegal for women to serve as jurors, and in several states there existed restrictive covenants forbidding Jews from buying or owning property. She also mentioned the landmark desegregation ruling “Brown vs. Board of Education,” and how the U.S. Supreme Court justices who voted to end racial segregation in the schools were derided as “judicial activists.”
That phrase prompted some snickers from the audience, and Jacques nodded knowingly. “Sound familiar?” she asked, and later asked another rhetorical question: “Why do I tell you these stories? To remind you we’ve been here before ... the arguments and the hate are the same; it’s just a different minority group.”
The new LGBT center, according to university assistant Antonio Eason, will be open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. “Those are the hours as of now. We haven’t decided about weekends yet.”
3. The Smith College Sophian, September 10, 2009
Capen Annex, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063
Opinion - Sex and the Smithie: It's Cool to be Queer
Lezbehonest: Lesbians are a really hot commodity right now, at Smith College and beyond. It's in style to be gay in political controversies, movies, music and, of course, dorm rooms campus-wide. Upon arrival at Smith, when our internal Gay-PS systems are still rusty from a long heteronormative summer, we're forced to face the wave of women kissing women as a noticeable, often comforting, change of pace.
Statistically, Smith is apparently not overwhelmingly gay. A 2009 survey by city-data.com stated that although Northampton has the largest lesbian percentage of "likely lesbian couples," it ranked at only 2.7 percent. A forum claimed that Smith is only 11 percent gay. It seems that Smith is not the bubble of Lesbos it may at first appear to be. In light of the recent Vermont victory for gay marriage, maybe the gay community just has the loud support it deserves. Could the world be changing into a more gay-friendly place?
I can hear the naysayers already: The fight never ends! There is no one battle to win! Think of Proposition 8, which refuses to recognize marriages other than those between men and women in California. Though I rarely say this to naysayers, I must admit that I agree. There will always be people who suffer at the hands of oppression in a seemingly tolerant society; no matter what, society always has room for change. However, in the recent years more than ever, being a lesbian garners major points in the media, directly contradicting the legislative block.
Granted, homosexual presence in the arts is ancient. Everything from Plato's Symposium, which touched on Greco-Roman homoeroticism as an elevation to higher learning to Shakespeare's lusty sonnets that were allegedly written to a man; Boy George and David Bowie, paved the way for the in-your-face bicuriosity of pop star poster-children by way of the Britney Spears/ Christina Aguilera /Madonna MTV Awards kiss, Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl (and I Liked It)" and Lady Gaga's "Poker Face."
Yeah, it's grating. When Lady Gaga is graphically tonguing some guy from Twilight in the video for her song, "Paparazzi," is she really truly bluffin' with her muffin? Is she putting on an inscrutable poker face as she waits for the perfect woman to come along? Call me conservative, but I'm skeptical.
Whether any of the so-prevalent pop stars are actually harboring lesbian tendencies, the point is that they've shifted lesbianism out of the shadows and into the living room. The L Word was on HBO, and Lady Gaga has been on the cover of Rolling Stone. Even more importantly, perhaps the fact that these media mavens aren't gay further proves the push for support of the gay community. Being a lesbian is sensational. They want to be gay. It's cool to be queer.
Any more word from the naysayers? Perhaps the new-found media presence is derogatory. Maybe all the lesbianism and gender-bending is a kitschy, offensive caricature of a beautiful understated countercultureâ€¦but at least something is out in the open. May the media project a more tolerant political climate, so that if you kiss a girl-and you like it-you can marry her. You shouldn't have to be bluffin' with your muffin. No matter what your opinion on the music scene, seemingly contrary media projections can only lead to one thing: discussion.
4. The Maine Campus, September 10, 2009
5748 Memorial Union, Orono, ME 04469-5748
Maine to vote on gay marriage in Nov.
By Tracy Evans
On July 1, one day before the deadline, nearly 100,000 signatures opposing the new law were submitted to Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, almost double what is needed for a people’s referendum. After certifying more than 60,000 signatures, Dunlap agreed Sept. 3 to add the referendum to the Nov. 3 ballot.
Gov. Baldacci signed the law May 6, an hour after the Maine Senate passed the bill. Sept. 12 would have been the first day same-sex couples in Maine could legally marry, according to Dunlap, but because of the people’s veto it has been indefinitely postponed.
Question No. 1 will read: “Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious institutions to refuse to perform these marriages?”
C.J. Bearce, the University of Maine campus organizer with League of Young Voters, an organization that encourages young people to engage in the democratic process, anticipated the law would be met with resistance.
“We hit the ground running with the assumption that they [opposition groups] would [resist],” Bearce said.
Bearce is one of three campus organizers for League of Young Voters in Maine. He started out volunteering and has since decided to dedicate more of his time to the organization.
“We’re trying to get a lot of local donations and raise money the grass roots way,” Bearce said.
Groups such as Equality Maine, a coalition partner with League of Young Voters, began campaigning around the same time the opposition first circulated petitions.
Equality Maine works closely with the Rainbow Resource Center — a resource center for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community at UMaine — and has received support from university clubs like Wilde Stein, Progressive Student Alliance and the Student Women’s Association.
UMaine College Republicans member Timothy Woodman plans to vote for overturning Maine’s gay marriage law this fall. He is in favor of No. 1 because “religious organizations will no longer be forced to perform same sex marriages,” he said.
“The College Republicans as a whole do not have a stance,” said College Republicans Vice President Joe Grace. “It doesn’t need to be made into a partisan issue.”
According to Mary Conroy, a volunteer coordinator and deputy communications director at Stand for Marriage Maine, the group that organized the people’s veto, it is supported financially by four national sources: the National Organization for Marriage, the Maine chapter of Focus on the Family, the Portland Roman Catholic Diocese and Family Resource. A full list of Stand for Marriage Maine supporters is available on its Web site: standformarriagemaine.com.
In July, with two months of campaigning behind them, Stand for Marriage Maine members had raised $350,000.
“I have friends who are homosexual. … They don’t think [the law] is a big deal. It’d be a big deal to get rid of it,” said Lindsey James, a fourth-year psychology student.
Mary Emmi contributed to this report.
5. St. Petersburg Times, September 10, 2009
490 First Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
USF will offer domestic partner benefits, school president says
By Richard Danielson
TAMPA - The University of South Florida plans to start offering full domestic partner benefits to employees, president Judy Genshaft said Wednesday.
Details of the benefits and eligibility requirements still need to be worked out, but administrators said they would cover both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
"We believe it's the right thing to do, and we'll work to make it happen this year," Genshaft told administrators, professors and others during her annual state of the university speech at the Marshall Student Center.
Based on figures from universities that already offer the benefits, USF has budgeted about $500,000 annually to provide the benefits.
Genshaft said no money allocated by the state, paid in tuition or received from the USF Foundation will be used to pay the benefits. Instead, administrators said they anticipate using revenue from other sources, such as concessions.
Administrators and faculty members have been discussing the issue of benefits for domestic partners for about two years, but Wednesday marked the university's first public acknowledgement that it is committed to providing them.
The USF system has about 13,000 employees on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Lakeland. Of those, about 6,000 are eligible to receive university benefits and thus would potentially be eligible for domestic partner benefits.
Based on national averages of employers who provide the benefits, USF would expect about 1 percent of those 6,000 employees, or 60 people, to participate, USF spokesman Michael Hoad said.
Genshaft's commitment is "a step forward," said faculty senate president Laurence Branch.
"The details will be important, and nobody has seen those yet," said Branch, a distinguished university professor in USF's College of Public Health.
USF senior vice provost Dwayne Smith said those details are subject to negotiation with USF's unions representing faculty members and staffers.
But the benefits would likely be available only to USF employees' partners who did not already have benefits through their own jobs, Smith said.
In studying the issue, USF administrators looked at similar benefits currently offered at the University of Florida, Hillsborough Community College and Florida International University.
USF's analysis suggests that many large national research universities with whom USF competes for faculty members already offer domestic partner benefits, Smith said. That group includes institutions such as the University of Michigan and Ohio State University.
Although the city of Tampa and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office have announced in recent years that they would provide benefits to the partners of gay employees, USF administrators acknowledged that some people might not like the university's decision.
"We anticipate some critique," Smith said.
Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.
6. Chimes (Calvin College)
3201 Burton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Calvin reacts to Board of Trustees’ memo
By Pricscilla Megalaa and Elizabeth Steele
A recent memo issued by Calvin’s Board of Trustees has sparked a great deal of controversy in the last few weeks. The May 2009 memo issued by the Board of Trustees states that “advocacy by faculty and staff, both in and out of the classroom, for homosexual practice and same-sex marriage is unacceptable.”
The memo, an updated version of a statement released in May 2008, requires that “this position guide student, faculty and staff conduct, direct college practices and policies and govern teaching, mentoring, writing and speaking by the faculty and staff of the college.”
The Board has stated that the Memo was issued to clarify the college’s 2008 statement confirming its commitment to the CRC’s position on homosexuality, which states that a person’s sexual orientation is not determined by the individual, and as such, homosexual inclination is not sinful except when practiced outside of marriage.
Nevertheless, the memo has sparked a fire of controversy among the college’s many individual communities over what this statement means for faculty, students and academic freedom.
Shirley Hoogstra, vice president for Student Life, said the primary issue is the misunderstanding between faculty and the Board of Trustees as to what the May 2009 memo actually meant.
The Board intended it as a clarification of existing policy, while the faculty believed it to be a change in existing policy and therefore contrary to the guidelines in the Faculty Handbook.
“Christians do their scholarship under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. So they always bring that lens with them,” explained Hoogstra. “The CRC and the college tries to apply that Lordship of Christ to what they do. Are there limits to what and where your scholarship can take you?”
As she understands it, the intent of the Board was to create a sense of “consistency” for the faculty so that the college’s academic and theological standards and expectations would be consistent for everyone.
In an interview with Grand Rapids News, Karin Maag, vice chairwoman of the faculty senate expressed her concerns about the way the board processed the updated memo.
She said, “We usually follow a more ‘bottom up’ approach, where a change might come from a committee — and we have a lot of committees — then be recommended to the Faculty Senate and get the seal of approval from the full faculty. Then everybody has an opportunity to express their opinion on a controversial topic.”
The policy has caused significant campus-wide debate, and in response to the memo, Calvin College faculty members called for a campus discussion that would address the implications the memo might have on academic freedom at Calvin.
According to provost Berversluis, “The board memo about advocacy raises crucial questions, and brings to light some significant disagreements, about a whole set of issues. These issues range from specific questions about biblical perspectives on sexual activities to broad questions about the purpose and extent of academic freedom and shared governance in a Christian college. I hope that this academic community can keep having honest, respectful conversations about these contentious topics.”
President Byker and the Board representatives agreed that faculty and Board members should gather together regularly to discuss issues such as this one.
On Thursday, Sept. 3, two such meetings took place, the first of which focused on issues of process and academic freedom. The three board representatives (Bastian Knoppers, Ron Baylor and Craig Klamer), President Byker, Claudia Berversluis, Shirley Hoogstra, Ken Heffner, Professors Doug Koopman, Carl Plantinga, Ruth Groenhout, Ken Bratt, Randy Bytwerk and Loren Harsma attended the meeting and took turns expressing their concerns.
Around 60 faculty members attended the second meeting, which was held later that afternoon, but they still failed to clarify many of the issues, some of which were mentioned in Maag’s recent update of the ongoing debate to Calvin faculty:
“There are still significant areas of disagreement: Is the memo a clarification or a new policy? Is the issue of advocacy for homosexuality or gay marriage a confessional issue (at which point it falls under section 6.3 of the Faculty Handbook) or one that fits in the parameters of academic freedom (Section 3.6.4 in the Faculty Handbook)? Does the Board of Trustees have the right to determine whether a given issue is or is not confessional?”
Hoogstra said that the Board’s position on the matter is determined by the decisions of the CRC Synod. It is the Synod which determines what is acceptable for the denomination, and the Board is guided by those decisions.
Nevertheless, in spite of its position on the matter, the Board does not intend to hinder the ability of faculty and students to discuss homosexuality. According to Hoogstra, the Board encourages faculty to support and care for homosexual students, yet it does not condone their advocacy of homosexual practice.
“It will not change the ability of students and faculty to discuss these issues,” said Hoogstra. “Faculty can still continue to put forth a point of view so that students engage it ... The Board is not saying that faculty cannot talk about homosexuality. It is saying you cannot promote only one side of the issue.”
The Board continues to affirm that its May 2009 memo was intended as a clarification of the previous May 2008 statement rather than a new policy.
In an e-mail to the college community on Sept. 4, the Chair of the Board, Bastian Knoppers, said that the Board intends to “work through these issues in consultation with faculty, staff, and students, honoring established college procedures as stated in the Faculty Handbook.”
The Board intends to further address the turmoil this memo has caused at the October meeting, where it will consider the feedback it has received, as well as consulting with Homosexuality and Community Life group and certain faculty members to determine the best response.
“The faculty and the Board are looking into ways to take this up at that time. Wherever you are on the topic, I know people are well intentioned and love the college.”
7. Daily Texan Online, September 8, 2009
2500 Whitis, Austin, TX 78712
http://www.dailytexanonline.com/top-stories/carnival-acquaints-students-with-queer-community-1.1868860 (Click link for video.)
Carnival acquaints students with queer community
By Yvonne Marquez
The aroma of freshly popped kernels wafted throughout the second floor of the Recreation Sports Center as the Queer Welcome Carnival kicked off early Friday evening.
Bright multi-colored balloons littered the floor while the sounds of laughter could be heard over upbeat music. Students of all orientations were donned in whimsical balloon hats and vibrant face paints provided by the Queer Student Alliance, which hosted the event. Ordinary carnival activities such as a giant castle moon-jump and a bungee run mixed with the unconventional “drag transformation station” and condom races.
Katie Wanamaker, government junior and director of the alliance, said the event is especially helpful to freshman by introducing them to the queer community at UT.
Wanamaker said the first welcome carnival she attended three years ago encouraged her to get involved with queer activism.
“The carnival is in its fourth year, and it started as an event to introduce queer students to UT and to the community and show how much fun we have and introduce the resources available to them,” Wanamaker said. “We have the Sexuality Center, University Health Services, and Counseling and Mental Health as well as most student-run queer groups here.”
This year’s event included more student organizations and activities than in the past. The newest GLBTQ student organization, FLAGS, Federation of Lesbian Allies and Gay Sports sponsored a raffle for various prizes and a giant bowling game.
“What FLAGS is - we’re trying to build and promote communities among the GLBTQ community through sports,” said psychology senior Daniel Otero. “We wanted to create an organization where people can participate in sports and be athletic and not be afraid to be openly gay.”
Many of the students that attended the carnival wanted the chance to meet other gay/lesbian people. Computer science freshman Adrian Avelar said he was shocked to see so many people at the event and is looking forward to future events. Avelar said he broke a lot of barriers back in his hometown because people didn’t think he was the stereotypical gay guy.
“I don’t know what the stereotypical gay guy is because a gay guy is simply a guy who likes guys,” Avelar said. “The way I was judged was that I was trying to have fun and go out and get attention, but people didn’t realize that it was who I was and who I’ve been.”
On the other hand, there are students who still haven’t come to terms with their sexual orientation. One freshman student, who did not want hhis name printed, said he didn’t really know why he came to the event.
“I recently came out, so I’ve just been trying to open up more and just to see what the GLBTQ community is like around here,” he said. “I was really hesitant about coming here because I was afraid of what people would think, and I’m still in that mindset.”
Wanamaker says that it’s important to know that queer people don’t meet all of your expectations about what they should be like.
“You would meet so many different types of queer people that if you had previous dispositions or ideas of what a gay person was like, they would probably be shattered just by coming to the event,” she said.
8. The Spectator (University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire), September 10, 2009
Hibbard Hall 104, Eau Claire, WI 54701
Creating safe spaces: LGBTQA groups work to create awareness, educate students
By Heather Mawhiney
Coming to college means new opportunities - both academically and socially - a million ways to improve and grow as an individual and, of course, meet new people. But sometimes, it's up to the students to improve the university, and that's what they've been doing when it comes to the LGBTQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and ally) community on campus and around Eau Claire. They kicked off the semester with "Safe Space with Bass," a LGBTQA event intended to create awareness and show students they're not alone.
"It's all about getting students connected and involved, while providing a safe space for those who need it," said alumnus David Gardner, LGBTQA Program Coordinator with the Women and Gender Equity (WAGE) Center.
Saturday's "Safe Space with Bass" was the first of many events intended to do just that. This semester, many LGBTQA groups on campus and throughout the community - including WAGE, the LGBT Community Center of the Chippewa Valley, College Democrats, College Feminists, Spectrum, University Counseling, Student Health Services, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, the Residence Hall Association, Women's Rugby Club and the Hobnailers - came together to host this event, complete with dancing, a bonfire, games and information. Hosted in the yard behind Sutherland Hall, students danced and mingled, proving that those who are in the LGBTQA community are definitely not alone.
"I remember when I came in as a freshman," senior RA Tyler Thom said. Thom is an intern with AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. "I hoped college would be more open, but it was just like high school. At the time, there was only counseling services available to students; now there are a lot more outlets for students looking for support, and the climate is much more accepting."
Creating a more open climate is something that the LGBTQA groups on campus have been working towards for some time now, and initiatives that were developed just last year are now coming to fruition, said Gardner. Of these are included Safe Space training, along with the new LGBTQA Advisory Committee, alumni fund and events.
While faculty previously used Safe Space training, run by WAGE and the Affirmative Action office, it has since been implemented to include RAs this semester.
Senior RA Tony Och, with help from the social work and education departments, coordinated the Safe Space training this semester.
"We wanted there to be more resources and visibility for people, especially incoming freshmen, who need it," Och said.
Using the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Safe Space training teaches RAs how to stop anti-LGBTQA bias, how to deal with coming out, as well as discussing issues such as heterosexism and adapting campuses to inclusiveness and acceptance, Och said.
Those who are Safe Space trained will have the opportunity to place a Safe Space sticker on their doors, showing people they are accessible and provide a non-judgmental environment for those who seek it. But Safe Space training may be available for people other than RAs in the future, Och said.
"We'd like to include Safe Space training into the curriculum for certain students as well," Gardner said. "Programs such as nursing, education and social work would, I think, benefit greatly from this type of exposure."
In the future, Safe Space training may also be made available to any student, regardless of his or her program, Och said.
"We're looking into programs for anyone who wants to become more well-versed in LGBTQA issues and provide more in-depth training," Och said. "It's about education as well as awareness."
Along with increased Safe Space training, a new LGTBQA advisory committee was created, established largely by Vice Chancellor Beth Hellwig.
"My son is gay, and after watching him grow up in a hurtful and close-minded campus, I was impressed with what the chancellor wanted to create here at Eau Claire," Hellwig said. "There are already faculty and staff on campus who are role models in this community, but we're working with the LGBTQA groups on campus to create an even more welcoming climate."
With five meetings already under its belt, the advisory committee is working to create some new initiatives on campus to help foster an LGBTQA-friendly atmosphere.
"One of the things we're working on is a Hate/Bias Response Team," Hellwig said. "This would be a group of people trained and prepared to help people and be a resource for those who have been or are treated poorly or discriminated against."
Though attitudes concerning the LGBTQA community have been changing for the better, these types of incidents are an unfortunate and realistic possibility, Hellwig said. But with more events such as "Safe Space with Bass" and increasing Safe Space training, she added, they will work towards educating non-LGBTQA community members, hopefully lessening or even ending this possibility.
"The more allies we have within the LGBTQA community, the better," Thom said. Though many who are allies wouldn't consider themselves as such, being an ally is a great step in creating harmony between LGBTQA students and straight students, he said.
"The biggest problem is that most people don't know a whole lot about the LGBTQA community and approach it with certain preconceived notions or prejudices," Och said. "If anyone has a question, find someone with a Safe Space sticker and get involved in the LGBTQA community. Being educated will solve half the problem."
9. The Daily Texan, September 10, 2009
2500 Whitis, Austin, TX 78712
Gay rights groups prepare for rally, pursuing equality
By Shabab Siddiqui
In preparation for the National Equality March in Washington, D.C., meant to promote gay and lesbian rights, two local groups will hold a rally today at the West Mall fountain near Guadalupe Street shortly before noon.
The groups, Burnt Orange Benefits and Join the Impact, will follow the rally with an information session at 1 p.m. in the Texas Union Lone Star Room.
“The purpose of this rally is strictly to promote the National Equality March,” said Corina Cantu, co-director of Burnt Orange Benefits. “We’re hoping to organize groups from UT — and Central Texas overall — to represent our ideas at the national level.”
The national march, scheduled for October 10-11, is sponsored by Equality Across America, a network of organizers in every U.S. congressional district.
Dana Cloud, associate professor in the College of Communication, is a member of Join the Impact, which serves as the Austin-area arm of the EAA’s national network. Cloud said the national organization serves as a wake-up call for the gay and lesbian community.
“Basically, it’s an organization of people who believe now is the time for a strong public statement about our desire for equal civil rights,” Cloud said. “A major goal of this rally is to pressure the Obama administration to uphold some of its promises to the gay and lesbian population.”
Burnt Orange Benefits is an on-campus student organization working for a similar cause.
They are proponents for domestic partner benefits for faculty and staff at the University.
Cantu said the University currently has none of these provisions.
“By getting these benefits, we would assist both current and prospective faculty and staff,” Cantu said. “By not having them, it affects our competitiveness with other universities in the country who do provide domestic partner benefits for their employees.”
Cloud said that while many of the marchers have specific goals, such as lobbying for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and for protection against hate crimes, the organizations are primarily trying to make a statement.
“It’s not just about marriage,” Cloud said. “It’s about equality. We’re expecting over 100,000 protesters [in Washington, D.C.], which hasn’t happened in a long time.”
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