What the Bod is an Ally

Farai Harreld Washburn Review

If at any point one walks around campus and happens upon a colorful decal with the words “Ally” on them, it means that the people who chose to display the decal are part of a network that is called a SAFE zone. A place for anybody regardless of gender, sexual preference, race or age, where they are free to be themselves. It is also a place for individuals in the LGBTQ community to feel safe, to ask questions and to not be judged. Members of the Ally program go through trainings with the Student Activities and Greek Life with support from the Diversity Initiative at Washburn.

 

The Ally program has been at Washburn for three years and has been working towards spreading awareness throughout campus with their trainings. The trainings are free and are available for staff. Students, faculty and fraternities such as Kappa Alpha Theta and campus organizations such as the Residential advisors  have taken advantage of the training and have become Allies at Washburn.  

“I wanted to go through the training process to become better informed about issues that my peers are facing. As a student leader, it is important to me to help others,” said Meredith Cline, Washburn student. “By learning about the discriminatory words and actions that can make people feel less human, I will be a better defender of those who are afraid to speak up. I also learned common myths about homosexuality and transgender lifestyles and how these affect everyone. Most importantly, I learned about how to help others who ‘come out’ to me by making them feel comfortable and respecting the confidentiality of the conversation.”

  

Over the past year, the safe zone program at Washburn has seen an increase in students interested and participating in the program.

“More students are realizing that knowledge is power  and the program fosters a support network and improves community on campus,” said Jess Barraclough, director of Student Activities and Greek Life.

Some of the hopes for the Safe Zone and Ally program at Washburn include more socialization opportunities for LGBTQ community and the Allies. Another hope is to have the Ally program institutionalized throughout campus making the campus a SAFE zone where anyone is free to be themselves and free to ask questions or gain information without judgment.

“One of the things we really appreciate about the program is that you can sit through the program and learn all the information and digest it however you choose to do so, but the important thing is that you don’t have to sign on the dotted line at the end, this could just be an opportunity for professional or student development,” said Barraclough. “In the end you learn how to be a supportive person or supportive student in the community.”

Anyone interested in the Ally and Safe program feel free to visit the offices for SAGL downstairs in the Memorial Union. The next training dates are 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., March 15 and April 12. Register at [email protected].