The mood was jovial but serious when Northern Kentucky University campus group SAFE (Staff, Administration and Faculty for Equality) met in a classroom March 30 to discuss possible ways of improving the experiences of LGBT students on campus.
Assistant professor of organizational leadership Whitney McIntyre Miller led and participated in the discussion, which was centered around the question, “How might NKU link students, faculty, staff and administrators to each other and appropriate services relative to the LGBT community?”
Tables were set with four chairs each, and each table had two large sheets of paper and a bin containing markers and crayons. Participants were encouraged to utilize the materials provided to aid in their discussion.
Some possible initiatives that were suggested based on the discussion included additional training for Allied Zone members and collecting data for driving change via survey. Americorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) leader Kyle Williams proposed that change needs to start with students.
“I find it very interesting, the differences between a top-down versus bottom-up approach,” Williams said.
According to Williams, the ratio of students to faculty and staff may mean that a bottom-up approach would be better than top-down to sway people and contribute to change.
Although SAFE discussions are geared toward staff, administration and faculty, students are welcome to come to them; however, many students may not be aware of the meetings. Of the 11 attendees, Northern Kentucky Equality Now President Michael Loch was the only student.
“The key thing I would like to see is more student involvement,” Loch said. “I would like to defeat the apathy that I see.”
One subject that arose multiple times during the discussion was on-campus housing. The group determined that it is imperative to address issues in housing because students living on campus can’t get away from some stresses as easily as other students.
According to SAFE President Brandelyn Tosolt, SGA recently passed a resolution in favor of gender-blind housing. The resolution is currently awaiting evaluation by the Board of Regents.
Although structured, the meeting was laid-back, with music playing and refreshments available to participants. While the topics being discussed were serious matters and were treated as such, the group had no problem joking and laughing at times. The whole room even stopped to sing “Happy Birthday” to a member who had to leave early.
“I would like us to continue to have these conversations, to have a conversation and keep it going,” said Student Achievement Center support specialist Anita Adkins.
For more information about SAFE and its affiliated organizations, go to http://safe.nku.edu.