By Gabriella Shriner / Editor
The Alliance at Raritan Valley Community College provides a safe environment for LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual) students on campus by promoting concepts central to their mission: acceptance through embracing today’s diverse people, and loving an individual for who they are, not their sexual preferences. By applying this concept throughout the school, the club was able to promote the campus’s diversity during LGBT Week, taking place from April 14 to 18.
The plans for LGBT Week started at the beginning of the spring semester, where members of the Alliance discussed topics they wanted to cover during club meetings. The week-long celebration of the LGBT community has been an annual event on campus since 2009, under current advisor Rebecca Case.
On Monday May 14, club members sat in shifts at a table in front of the College Center purple wall to spread the word about the upcoming week. The table featured a binder and timeline with prominent historical figures and events in history that dealt with gay rights, as well as rainbow pins, flyers for the week’s events and lollipops for those passing by.
The club then invited the student body to help draw the Diversity Mural on Tuesday May 15 in the Ray Bateman Center for Student Life and Leadership. Displayed along several windowpanes in front of the student life offices, the mural was made with window markers and featured positive words and images in a multitude of colors.
Conrad Colon, Vice President of Information and Media, felt that creating the mural would be the best-received event of the week. “We’re really excited about the mural. We were really trying to figure out how to unite the students on campus.”
The club set up the Intersex Awareness Bake Sale the following day, which featured homemade baked goods and pastries, as well as more information about the week’s plans.
During college hour on May 16, the Alliance partnered with BACCHUS to host a Jeopardy game. During the game, students were free to participate, where they learned STD facts and statistics, while BACCHUS provided free HIV testing.
On Friday, the Alliance brought their Pride Week to a close by setting up another informational table and serving coffee and other light refreshments at their Pride Day Luncheon.
After running a poll for National Freedom to Marry Day, a holiday on February 12 that promoted same-sex marriage, the RVCC campus revealed itself as a very tolerant community. Out of a total of over 200 people who were surveyed, approximately 75% said that same-sex marriage should be legalized and that LGBT couples should receive the same benefits as straight couples.
When asked why he believes tolerance on campus is not quite at the full support mark, Colon said, “Will it ever be 100%? We can’t say that, but we do see it moving in a positive direction, and small little things like this (survey) really show us that the work that small groups do, both locally and nationally, do have some impact.”
The Alliance is always looking for new members of every sexual orientation and gender identity to join and share their experiences. The club’s strict confidentiality policy exists to keep its members safe, allowing everyone the chance to share a private space for personal expression.