06 April 2010

Watch out for the big, bad LGBT cliques

Watch out for the big, bad LGBT cliques

By Nicole E. Avery
GVL Columnist

Remember the cliques and stereotypes we were all so desperately ready to escape when we went to college -- jocks, Barbies, geeks, weirdos and in-betweeners? They are the same cliques our parents faced and the same cliques our own children must tackle.

What I don't remember in high school was the administration fearing the manifestation of cliques into intimidating masses and then tackling that problem by not allowing anyone to socialize.

Cliques are exactly the reason why the LGBT Resource Center is no longer allowing students to "meet-up and socialize" in its lounge area.

The article in the Grand Valley Lanthorn said the LGBT staff has made every effort to comfort students and support them in understanding the changes made to the LGBT Center policies -- what?

Typically, you support someone in a choice they have made, not a choice you force them to make.

What exactly was going on in the LGBT Center that would warrant such a drastic change? Were people actually comfortable socializing in there, enjoying each others' company? Were they freely and openly discussing important issues that would generally be deemed taboo?

I'm describing what should be the function of the LGBT Center. Its whole purpose is to provide resources, space and a safe haven to the LGBT community, and now the groups of people for whom it was meant to be a support system can't even go in there unless they have "official business."

The assistant director of the Grand Valley State University LGBT Resource Center claimed the LGBT Center is still "completely committed to having any conversation that is needed with our students."

Something that was once extremely personal has become as phony and meaningless. I'm really interested in seeing how this policy is going to really play out. Is the LGBT Center going to give a time limit as to how long it's willing to have "conversations" with students and then give them a pamphlet and send them on their way?

What I like about centers such as the LGBT Resource Center and the Woman's Center is their open-door policy, their attentiveness, the accepting, comfortable and safe atmosphere and their willingness to help in any way they can.

What's wrong with having a group of regulars that comes in every Monday to sit down and chat it up, and why would those groups then be deemed intimidating or disruptive?

There's nothing wrong with it. In my mind a newcomer would feel more put off if they see an empty center with tumble weeds blowing by than if they saw a group of cheerful students comfortably conversing with one another.

Perhaps the problem is the center needs to expand and have two separate areas: one strictly for "business" and the other for all of us socialites who just can't help but be friendly.

"Any fool can make a rule and any fool will mind it." -- David Henry Thoreau


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