LGBTQ director calls for students to be “allies”

Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement’s Democracy Square Live open forum event hosted by LGBTQ director Bonnie Meyer Tuesday afternoon in the Student Union revolved around many topics including sexual assault, racial discrimination and LGBTQ issues.

She began the discussion by informing the circle of those in attendance about what it means to be an “ally” nationally, statewide and on campus.

The students then voiced their opinions on what the word means to them and how it affects their daily lives.

“Being an ally is an identity,” Meyer said. “It also requires action; it’s something we do,”

On NKU’s campus there is a campaign that students, faculty, staff or administrators can participate in called the “Allied Zone” which trains members to be “allies” for those in the LGBTQ community, according to Meyer.

Meyer also brought several articles for students to discuss including one about a Columbia student who carries around a mattress until her alleged rapist is expelled, racial stereotyping on Michigan’s campus, and Tyler Clementi, a student who killed himself after finding out his roommate had secretly recorded Clementi’s romantic encounter with another man.

One student said he believes that universities are lacking in educating students about homosexuality and minorities.

Meyer said when she travels around the state to meet with other universities, she noticed NKU is definitely being recognized by others.

“It’s kind of like we are doing diversity the right way. We are thinking not just of diversity, but inclusivity,” Meyer said.

Moreover, she said that students and faculty should feel welcome and safe to participate in campus activity and that in order for that to be successful, the campus needs to be inclusive.

“People need to feel welcome being here and I think that is definitely a priority with the university. They have actually taken steps to see that through and you don’t see that happening everywhere,” Meyer said.

Junior social work major Marcel Hughes said the reason he came to the meeting is because he’s always looking to be a better ally and intersectionality is his “thing.”

Additionally, he said he feels like NKU is special in the fact that people can have these conversations.

“I do respect that a lot. I don’t think that I see that at a lot of other campuses. I think it’s very neat of NKU to do,” Hughes said.

Hughes said that he knows that many universities do a lot of work with diversity and community, but it’s kind of rare to have a discussion where it’s completely open to all communities and marginalized groups.

He also said that he thinks that these discussions build solidarity and a sort of inclusive space.

“The trick is figuring out how do we perform this and that’s just another thing that comes with the territory with being cutting edge, I guess, because this is cutting edge stuff,” Hughes said.

Hughes said he believes NKU’s image has grown from a commuter college to an actual living, learning environment for people here on campus.

“A part of making that mission possible is making sure that all students are included and the only way to do that is just to be aware of diversity,” Hughes said.

Public history graduate and Democracy Square Live representative Katie Crawford-Lackey said the goal of DSL is to create civically minded students in the classroom and in the community.

Crawford-Lackey said she thought the discussion went great because they had a really great turnout of students who also had ideas to share and that is important.

“I think everything starts with conversations,” Crawford-Lackey said.