University News

UCS talks campus climate in LGBT workshop

LGBTQ Center Program Director Kelly Garrett explains terminology, resources

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 12, 2015

LGBTQ Center Program Director Kelly Garrett led an identity workshop for the Undergraduate Council of Students at its general body meeting Wednesday, highlighting campus resources and issues of gender expression and sexual orientation.

Though the University is “ahead of the curb” regarding many LGBT issues, members Brown community members have a tendency to “overstate how welcoming Brown is,” Garrett said.

The University is “pretty much there policy wise,” but “policies do not equal climate,” she added.

UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15 said it is important for the student government to “be cognizant of the different kinds of identities that exist on campus” in order to move forward as a community.

“While there is a space where students feel comfortable, not all of Brown is that space,” said UCS Student Activities Committee member Ryan Anderson ’18.

“The campus climate here is amazing for LGBTQ students,” said Samuel Rubinstein ’17, a member of the UCS Academic and Administrative Affairs committee. “Queer identity is a part of the Brown community in a central and holistic way.”

To address sex, gender, gender expression and sexual orientation, Garrett presented binary and nonbinary identity models. She said offering multiple models is helpful because “oftentimes the traditional identity models early on were very linear, but most of us do not have a linear experience.”

Due to the short history of formal gender and sexuality studies, using such inclusive terminology is like creating a new language, Rubinstein said.

Addressing potential pronoun confusion and neutrality, Garrett encouraged students to ask what pronoun a person uses, rather than what pronoun a person prefers. She added that misplaced gender neutral pronouns may inadvertently discredit a person’s gender.

While “phe” is “a convenient gender neutral pronoun … it’s a very Brown thing,” Garrett said. Originating in the Female Sexuality Workshop, commonly known as FemSex, the pronoun is not necessarily used or known outside of Brown, she added.

Benjamin Gladstone ’18, a member of the UCS Student Activities Committee and Outreach and Advocacy Committee, arranged for Queer Alliance to facilitate the workshop. Queer Alliance offers peer support and programming as an “umbrella organization” to help foster “the coordination and building of a communal environment for various subgroups and committees,” according to its website.

The council also heard from four students from the Ivy Council, a group that meets biannually about “what it means to be a student of the Ivy League,” said Gaurav Nakhare ’15, head delegate for Brown’s Ivy Council chapter. The group announced the Inter-Ivy Policy Conference, an upcoming event involving students from all of the Ivy League institutions that will address community and global engagement. Brown would be a particularly interesting host for the April conference due to its recent interim alcohol policy changes , Nakhare said. Summerset Thompson ’16, conference co-chair, encouraged UCS members to apply to help lead conference break-out sessions.

Admissions and Student Services Committee Chair Ryan Lessing ’17 presented his amendment to the council’s Code of Operations to be voted on by the general body next week. The amendment will allow UCS Executive Board members to be appointed to University committees, as the current restriction may prohibit a member from serving the community after leaving the board.

In UCS committee updates, Lessing described the launch of the online feedback forum What to Fix Brown, an Admissions and Student Services initiative, as “enormously successful.”

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