Gay Straight Partnership holds an open-forum discussion after Scalia protest

By Madison Pfeifer | September 30, 2018 3:38pm

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President of the Gay Straight Partnership, senior Megan McInnes, sits with students to discuss and write about how they felt after the silent protest against Fr. Paul Scalia.
by Elizabeth Lyons-Best / The Beacon

Last Thursday night, around 25 students gathered on the quiet side of The Bauccio Commons for a forum lead by the Gay Straight Partnership (GSP) with support from ASUP and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinators. The forum was in response to the student-lead silent protest at the annual Red Mass against Fr. Paul Scalia. 

During the forum, students broke off into small groups to discuss the protest and talk about their emotions in response to the administration’s decision to invite Fr. Paul Scalia to campus. The goal of the forum was to create a safe space for students to speak about their experiences with diversity and inclusion on campus and to come up with a specific list of issues to bring to the administration in hopes of creating policy changes. 

“The students are being proactive in a way that the administration and the university are not,” senior Megan MacInnes, the president of GSP, said. “We want to bring the university in line with our values.”

Each small group had a list of questions pertaining to LGBTQ+ experiences on their table to prompt discussion. Discussion topics ranged from personal stories and experiences on campus to frustration with the University. 

There were also large pieces of paper for students to write down their thoughts and feelings such as issues with current policies they want to change, or ways to make dorm life more inclusive. 

Students wrote what the felt after the silent protest against Fr. Paul Scalia on sheets of paper at a follow-up event.
by Elizabeth Lyons-Best / The Beacon

Many of the conversations were focused on what the administration should be doing for the LGBTQ+ community on campus. Students were passionate during their discussions and, although many were frustrated, they were also hopeful for the future. 

“I was surprised that even though the turnout was a little bit less than we were expecting, the passion for the issues at hand was still so alive,” ASUP President Sitara Nath said. “I think it’s the quality of the discussion, not the quantity of the participants that makes an event really meaningful.” 

After the forum, members of GSP and ASUP said they would compile each group’s list of ideas into a few common themes to present to the administration in hopes that UP administrators will make several policy changes—such as including gender identity in the UP non-discrimination policy. They plan to meet with the administration next week.

Many students at the forum hoped that their contributions will help to create a more inclusive community, but also acknowledge that having a conversation is the first step to creating change.

“This isn’t the last conversation we’re going to have,” junior class senator Nick Owen said. “We can’t think of it as that. We can’t think this conversation is going to end when we graduate...It really comes down to building the conversation and structuring it to create policies that can change. And then it just becomes a matter of having the university reflect who we are.”

Madison Pfeifer is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at pfeifer21@up.edu.

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