College Democrats talk Gay-Straight Alliance with Adminstration

Members of the College Democrats met with Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, vice president of student affairs, last Thursday to push for creating an on campus Gay Straight Alliance.

The College Democrats presented Hutchinson at the meeting with the more than 1,000 names of students who signed a petition supporting an on-campus GSA.

The petition was launched by the College Democrats on Feb. 21.

In an email to the Torch, Hutchinson said about the meeting, “We had a very engaging and respectful first meeting.”

“This is a topic that touches our university community in many ways and therefore we will continue to meet and have on-going dialogue.”

The University told the Torch last month it would not recognize such an alliance because it would conflict with Catholic principles.

The University currently offers a “Safe Zone” program – on call “allies” to provide support- along with monthly support meetings.

Last month, several students told the Torch they were dissatisfied with the current options.

Donya Nasser, the secretary of the College Democrats, said the group would continue to hold meetings with Hutchinson, as well as other members of the University about the matter.

The next meeting, scheduled to take place on next Friday, will also include members from Campus Ministry.

Last week’s meeting with Hutchinson came after members of the College Democrats reached out to their faculty advisor, Brian Browne, in the hopes of meeting with the administration, according to the group’s vice president Maria Bernadzikowski.

In an interview with the Torch on March 5, Bernadzikowski said the group was then contacted by Dominic Scianna, associate vice president for external relations, saying the administration would be happy to meet with the students.

The College Democrats said they were recently contacted by the Human Rights Campaign, a non-profit organization that “works to ensure LGBT people of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community,” according to their website.

Nasser said the head of HRC’s campus outreach program found them through the “St. John’s Students for a Gay Straight Alliance” Facebook page, and contacted them to see how they might be able to provide assistance.