By AMANDA GHANNAM, Staff Writer
On Thursday, PRIDE at the University of Michigan-Dearborn hosted its first “I Am An Ally” event in the University Center. Allies finished the sentence “I am an ally because…” on dry-erase boards and paper stars, responding with statements of support such as “because everyone deserves equality”; “because love is love”; and “because I’m not an asshole.”
“The goal was to spread awareness of LGBTQ issues on campus and raise money for alternative spring break,” said Anthony Wagner, PRIDE chair. “As an individual who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community, it’s personal for me to help get people to understand that these identities exist, and getting them to embrace these communities.”
PRIDE is UM-Dearborn’s newest queer-centered student organization. The club’s goals include promoting diversity and inclusion on campus, and focusing on activism, social awareness, and community outreach. At the I Am An Ally event, students could buy an ally star, or grab an ally button, tattoo, candy, or condom; and had their photos taken with their reasons for being LGBTQ allies.
On PRIDE’s specific goals, Wagner added “this campus needs a safe space. We don’t have a permanent one, so SAFE tries to offer one through our Safe Zone program. It allows individuals to come together on a regular basis and meet with allies or individuals who identify as LGBTQ, and have conversations that allow them to learn and grow with their identities.”
Safe Zone meets every other Thursday at 6:30 in 1198 SSB. The next meeting is February 20th.
“With more allies we can create a more welcoming environment and make LGBTQ students feel more comfortable and safe,” said Patrick Carlisle. “We have had some students harassed on campus—“biased incidents” is what they’re called—and not only do we want to see less of that, we want to be here for students who experience it.” Carlisle is a sophomore studying computer science.
The event managed to raise $300 for Alternative Spring Break-Detroit through the generosity of over 90 donors. The program takes UM-Dearborn students on trips to various locations (past locations include Toronto, West Virginia, and Chicago) to promote the following goals: enabling opportunities to serve and make impact through personal and professional interests; developing leadership opportunities for students through engagement with community; fostering partnerships with nonprofit and community agencies to create positive change; building communities of servant leaders; and promoting socially just principles through service.
This year’s Alternative Spring Break trips are focused around six specific core issues: urban poverty, rural poverty and community development, environmental preservation, health access and poverty, social justice and LGBTQ issues, and affordable housing.