Hannah Collings – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Clarion Allies, the university’s gay-straight alliance, is continuously working to change social and institutional constructs to the benefit of the LGBTQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and asexual) community at Clarion University. Over the past several years, Allies has achieved several changes sought on campus.
One example is the gender-neutral bathrooms, which have been designated in the Gemmell Student Complex, Becht Hall and other buildings.
Allies is currently working on an initiative called Lavender Graduation in which LGBTQA students would be celebrated and recognized for their contributions to the university. This ceremony is one that has been brought to over 120 colleges and universities nationwide.
Lavender Graduation, supported by the Human Rights Campaign, recognizes individuals, LGBTQA and straight, involved with affecting their campuses toward the accommodation of the LGBTQA community.
Pennsylvania State University, Carnegie Mellon University, California University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University of Pennsylvania currently have Lavender Graduations on their campuses. The Human Rights Campaign’s website has a list of all the colleges and universities that currently conduct this ceremony. Allies hopes to soon add Clarion University to this list.
Allies President, Beck Mullen, is very excited about the preferred name policy Allies moved to see implemented for next year.
“The preferred name policy is probably our biggest project or achievement so far this semester,” said Mullen.
Under this policy, students who do not want to be called by their legal first name can submit paperwork to have it changed on their student ID. As of spring 2017, except for certain documents such as diplomas and transcripts, a student will have their preferred name listed on class rosters, D2L and their email. Clarion is the first Pennsylvania state university to implement this policy.
Allies continually looks to accommodate for LGBTQA students, even those who are only prospective students. Reinhard Villages is equipped with a co-ed housing complex, but Allies is working to see similar housing options come to fruition in the Suites on Main. Mullen hopes that this will draw in more LGBTQA enrollment in future semesters.
Mullen also cited safety, as well as comfort, for some of these changes for Clarion’s LGBTQA community.
“Restrooms are the biggest concern when it comes to LGBTQA safety, for it is where the majority of hate crimes occur. We wanted to make sure that using the restroom won’t be an issue for current and incoming LGBT+ students,” Mullen explained.
Allies seeks to eliminate the potential for hate crimes against this community at Clarion University, even looking to implement a gender-neutral faculty restroom.
Allies members discuss changes they would like to see at their weekly Monday meetings at 6 p.m. in Harvey Hall.
“We get our ideas from our members and from things we hear, see from friends, the internet and other campuses,” Mullen said.
All Allies’ plans have to go through the Presidential Commission, but Mullen noted the commission is very likely to assent to their proposals.
“I’m unable to think of any requests that have been denied recently,” Mullen recalled.