College Dems Launch Petition for GSA
The University chapter of the College Democrats launched a petition for a University recognized Gay Straight Alliance at a general body meeting entitled “Why STJ Needs a GSA.”
The petition was launched in preparation for a meeting in the coming weeks between University administrators and members of the College Democrats. The petition can be found at ipetitions.com/petition/STJ4GSA and will also be available around campus.
The meeting, which acted like an open forum, was opened to the student body and a little more than 25 students showed up to voice concerns and give suggestions on what many called, “the civil rights issue of our time.”
Chapter President Erin Kennedy said the need for a GSA on campus has been a concern of the group for a while now, and after the Torch printed an article on Feb. 13 they decided to act.
“After the article was printed there was a lot of chatter,” she said. “We decided this is the time to grab hold of the momentum.”
The University’s “Safe Zone” program – a program that “utilizes trained administrators and faculty to provide a place for LGBTQ students who have questions or need support,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson in an interview with the Torch –was a concern during the meeting, with multiple participants saying it wasn’t enough.
“Every inch of this campus should be a Safe Zone,” Luis Quinones, treasurer of the College Democrats said during the meeting.
In a statement to the Torch, the University said, ““we would not recognize a gay alliance.”
Junior Brendan Latimer said he showed up to the meeting because he believes the “suppression” of a GSA on campus is “a suppression of our first amendment rights and the freedom to assembly.”
Members of the College Democrats and students present at the meeting said a concern of some was having their name with the petition or organization because they feared retribution from the University.
Kennedy said the University’s recognition of a GSA would be a major step in removing this fear, and allowing students- and even faculty members- to come out of the shield of anonymity and show their full support.
“The University recognizing a GSA would be saying you can be who you want to be without the fear of repercussions,” she said.
At the closing of the meeting, Quinones recognized the efforts to create a University recognized GSA might fail, but citing a quote from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, he urged students to have the courage to fight.