Community members past and present gathered in the academic quad as part of the ‘Pilots for the People: Week of Action’ spirit week, last Friday, Jan. 28. The gathering was a celebration for QTBIPOC students and a send off for Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences, Sarina Saturn – who left UP at the end of January.
The gathering started out small but grew to around 30 people. Many held pride flags, listened to music, socialized, put up posters and ate cake.
The gathering also had student speakers, including August Stone, Kaylee Menefee, Grace Fortson and Beth Chvilicek. They all spoke on the importance of creating a space for QTBIPOC students to feel supported via resources and organizing.
"It’s important for admin to see the faces that are associated with the statistics that they use to their advantage, and it’s even more important for admin to hear the message and concerns that QTBIPOC students have regarding resources," Chvilicek said. "Having a gathering of QTBIPOC students tells students that they’re not alone and tells admin that we’re paying attention."
Active Minds President Kaylee Menefee sees a lack of emotional support resources for LGBTQ and BIPOC members on campus.
“I think the biggest thing is a lot of this activism and taking up space is really taxing on emotional care and emotional well being,” Menefee, Active Minds president, said. “So, Active Minds tries to get involved in any way. The University doesn't have a lot of resources for LGBTQ or QTBIPOC students.”
Associated Students of the University of Portland President Emma Fuller was at the gathering to show support for the leaders there.
“I just wanted to show as much support as possible to minority communities.” Associated Students of the University of Portland President Emma Fuller, said. “I think that it's such an important job and it's also so hard. I recognize it, being a leader on campus and how hard it is, especially in a predominantly white campus.”
Notable alumnus Clara Ell also came to the gathering to show support of the students, citing their sexual assault case in 2016. Shortly after, Saturn spoke, echoing previous ideas from student speakers.
“This is a celebration of QTBIPOC and feminists,” Saturn said. “There are often times like not enough resources and spaces that are affirming, that make us get a sense of belongingness and inclusion. So, this is the importance of taking up space. Yes, this is our campus too.”
Kimberly Cortez is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.