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Uplifting Identities Lunch headlines National Day of Silence

by Brianna Bush - Lifestyles Editor
Wed, Apr 17th 2019 01:00 pm
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Over the years, The College at Brockport has made efforts to become more inclusive of everyone who is part of the campus, whether they are faculty, staff or students. Many clubs and organizations on campus offer a safe space and an environment for those who are struggling with anything in their life.

Organizations like Gender Equity Movement (GEM) and Brockport Student Government (BSG) have recently shown their support for diversity and inclusivity. On Friday, April 12 BSG Activities Coordinator Sarah Martelle represented BSG for National Day of Silence. 

National Day of Silence is a student-led event that gives participants an opportunity to take a vow of silence in order to highlight the erasure of the LGBTQ community. BSG held a tabling event where students were able to make a vow of silence. Students could write down their words of support or take the vow themselves.

BSG also provided LBGTQ pins that had pronouns displayed over the pride colored background. When students picked up the pins of their choice, they also had the option to grab a sticky-note provided by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that had facts about positive representation of LGBTQ students.

Martelle believes that Brockport is inclusive, but said that there is room for improvement.

“I personally don’t know because I am not apart of the LGBTQ community,” Martelle said. “I’m an Ally, so I can’t say personally, but I always think that we can be improving as much as we can.”

Martelle mentioned that the campus does show support for those who need it, although there could be extra measures taken. Martelle also included that promoting events like the National Day of Silence and the Uplifting Identities Lunch is essential to spreading inclusivity.

To continue a weekend of support, GEM held Uplifting Identities Lunch, a panel event on Saturday, April 13. The panel consisted of The College at Brockport’s President Heidi Macpherson, sociology Professor Kyle Green, Women and Gender Studies Professor Milo Obourn and sociology minor Emerson Legg.

The lunch started with GEM President Angelica Whithorn introducing herself and handing the microphone to the panelist for their own introduction and pronouns. 

To start the panel, Whithorn asked the panelist, “What role does the university play in teaching and encouraging inclusion and diversity in all identities?”

Obourn gave their answer first, saying that the university has an essential role in teaching and understanding identity. They claimed that it is not always easy to reach out to others across different identities.

“One of our missions as an institution of higher education is to procure people to be ready for the world and to be successful,” Obourn said in response to Whithorn. “Whatever that is [to be successful] you are going to need to be able to talk and interact with other people.”

Obourn also included that college is a time where individuals start to reflect on their own identities, saying that for many of the students on campus it is their first time away from their family and community. Like Obourn, Green agreed that the role of the university is essential to inclusiveness.

“I consider the university to be both a model of society, meaning it reflects many of the challenges, many of the stories that are going out in a larger scale,” Green said. “So this can be both positive change and negative change, and it’s important to remember that the university is not isolated from the outside world.”

He made sure to include that campuses and universities are not in a bubble and when hate crimes go on outside the campus they also ripple into the college environment. He said the campus should strive to be better and the classroom should be a place where students can engage in conversation that is not necessarily discussed elsewhere.

To give a student point of view, Legg was able to give their opinion on the school’s role in diversity and inclusivity.

“Universities are the way you can find yourself; it’s the first time you are really away from your parents and the ideals that you grew up with,” Legg said. “I know for me, as someone who identifies as genderqueer, I have never met someone who was genderqueer before coming to university.”

Legg opened up about their experience going through the college system, and how it helped them with their identity. Legg believes that universities and campuses have a responsibility to accept as much diversity as they can.

Macpherson included insight on how the college admits students. One thing that she covered was the fact that the college is actively trying to recruit more under-represented minority students. The college is also in the process of diversifying the staff, which is a longer process, according to Macpherson.

The College at Brockport president also included that the SUNY program has taken it very seriously that colleges need to be open space for students of all backgrounds. SUNY provided surveys that asked questions based on how the SUNY systems treated them and if they felt included on campus.

“As a college, we really want to support the opportunity for students to give us that anonymous feedback because there are questions that we can’t ask students,” Macpherson said.

Macpherson also mentioned a survey report that she was informed about during her first few years as the president for the college. The survey was on the experience of female students at Brockport, and she recalled her own experience while reading over the report.

At the campus, the majority of the students in the 1980s were taught by male professors and many of the majors were male-dominated. There were very few female authors and very few female theorists that were being taught, according to Macpherson.

“As I read through that, I was kind of shocked to see where the college was at in the 1980s and happy to see how much progress, not enough, but how much progress the college has actually made during that period of time,” Macpherson said.

Though the college has made moves to better the campus for everyone, it is not there yet. There is still a long way to go for everyone to feel included and safe. For students who are in need of a support system, the campus has counseling services available at Hazen and clubs like GEM that offer a safe place for all students.

 

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