Welcome to the ‘State of the Heights’ a new Gavel column focusing on exposing the student body to the inner workings of UGBC. This week’s column focuses on GLBTQ issues on campus. The next State of the Heights will focus on Socioeconomic Issues on campus. If you have any questions which you would like answered by representatives from UGBC on this topic, please send it to [email protected] with “State of the Heights” in the subject line.
When you were campaigning last year, what did you learn regarding GLBTQ issues while campaigning that you had not yet already known?
Marchese: Nanci was already very involved in the community, but I, on the other hand, sat down with individuals from the GLBTQ Leadership Council to see what I could do as executive vice president to make sure that their voices were being heard in the BC community.
One of the things that I became aware of during these talks was the extent to which BC students verbalized their non acceptance of the GLBTQ community and in fact is something we are continuing to work on this year.
Fiore-Chettiar: Something I realized I did not know enough about was transgender issues. The Janet Mock Q&A, which was the first trans-related event that I attended, was very eye opening for me and gave me a language with which I could address these issues that I could not before.
Marchese: Something else I learned was the intersectionality of the GLBTQ community with other facets of diversity. I went to an event recently where a black male who was also gay spoke about the issues that arose from living in a community that is oppressive to both groups.
Alright, next, how do you think the restructuring of UGBC to have GLC be more a more integral part of student government benefitted both UGBC and BC as a whole?
Marchese: Under the old structure, if GLC had a problem, it was GLC’s problem. But now, because the student government is more integrated, GLC problems are now UGBC problems. When GLC is hosting an event, UGBC is hosting that event. We are united in our efforts and I think that is the best thing to come from the restructuring.
Fiore-Chettiar: It is easy when you think an issue only affects a small population to marginalize it and not be as focused on overcoming it. But when you have the voice of UGBC which speaks on behalf of the student body, then you have more power.
Marchese: That was actually one of our platform points - to make GLC and ALC issues UGBC issues.
Fiore-Chettiar: And one way we are doing that is actually reexamining the GLC ten year plan which is, at this point, way off of where it needs to be. The problem has been that all of the points are lofty with no tangible steps to progress. So what we have done is create a committee to review it and create goals that we can actually strive for.
How do you think attitudes towards GLBTQ issues have changed in your four years here?
Marchese: Within my friend group the awareness of GLBTQ issues has definitely increased. I know I had a lot of friends that used to use derogatory words towards each other, but since then that has since changed.
But outside of my friend group, I am not sure if I could say that there has been progress in the attitudes of the BC community as a whole.
Fiore-Chettiar: There has definitely been progress in terms of the types of events GLC has been allowed to put on and what they have been able to come up with.
But, like Chris, I am not sure about changes in terms of the attitudes on campus towards GLBTQ issues have changed. I do think there are a lot of students who perceive themselves as allies and tolerant of GLBTQ students, but because of that I think there has been a lot of silence on the issue which has led to a sort of thought process in the student body that this is no longer an issue that must be overcome.
Marchese: One of the changes that I have notices is, since gay marriage has become legalized in parts of the country over the past few years, students no longer think that there are not as many issues facing GLBTQ students. Our freshman year, I think there was more of an activist attitude in fighting for GLBTQ rights on campus, but now when I tell my friends what they face, they just cannot believe it because they assume that everyone is already in support.
FInally, what does UGBC have lined up in terms of events and programs for GLBTQ students?
Fiore-Chettiar: GLC has many programs that they run throughout the year. A lot of it is social programming because there isn’t necessarily a place for GLBTQ students to feel safe discussing their issues. Gala (December 6th) is coming up and that is a celebration of the GLBTQ community, but also a place for students to have fun and eat good food.
Marchese: We also have someone working to amend BC’s discrimination clause to make it more inclusive. It is a difficult task, but it is something that we are passionately working towards.
And of course GLC has its continually run programs like Queer Peers and the GLBTQ Undergraduate Society (GUS) which pairs GLBTQ freshman with upperclassmen as they transition to college life.
Thank you so much for reading this edition of State of the Heights! Please remember to submit questions to the Gavel via email at [email protected].