Eastern Michigan University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center hosted its SAFE campaign Tuesday in the Student Center to inform students and staff of ways to help maintain an inclusive campus for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.
LGBTRC Program Coordinator Mary Larkin spoke about ways to create an accepting campus environment, including policies created to prevent discrimination, societal impacts and gender-neutral initiatives. She said about 12 departments and organizations on campus are participants in the SAFE campaign.
“It’s been mandated that their student staff and professional staff have to go through this [LBGT] training,” Larkin said. “Most of them are in direct relations with students.”
Larkin partnered up audience members to engage in activities involving their opinions of a given statement about people with certain sexual orientations, and whether what has been said was a fact or myth. Sixty-three percent of students (not strictly at EMU) said they felt unsafe on a daily basis due to their sexual orientation, and 30 percent of LGBT students experiencing harassment will actually go to college, Larkin said.
“Substance abuse and drug abuse are running rampant between the
ages of 18 and 24 and a lot of that is college ages,” Larkin said.
“They’re going to bars and clubs because they know there are going to be people just like them there, that it’s a safe environment and that they can express themselves freely.”
LGBTRC’s philosophy is that “every student has the right to a safe learning environment where they can learn, live and grow academically and socially.”
Senior and psychology major Lisa Klein said the event helped her and could help other students become more accepting to other views.
“It was very informative,” Klein said. “It opened my eyes into ways of thinking that I haven’t thought of before.”
EMU senior and social work major Elizabeth Mainville said she is already planning on going to the March 25 Pride Prom, a dance hosted by the LGBTRC for the LGBT community and anyone else who is interested in attending.
College of Health and Human Services academic adviser Amber Robbins said this was her first LGBT event on EMU’s campus. Robbins said this struck home for her because she helped start the first LGBT organization at a past institution she worked for.
“I went to college in mid to late ’90s and there was no LGBT organization on my campus, and most of my friends that were gay didn’t come out till after college because it wasn’t an open and welcoming environment,” Robbins said. “As an 18-year-old you may be coming from a place that’s not open, onto a campus like this where you can find yourself. And to have organizations and an LGBTQ office just allows students to explore their identity and their possibilities and who they are, where they fit into.”
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