Wash. U., the gay way

| Pride Alliance President

As some of you already know, and all of you are going to find out, Wash. U. exists in  a bubble.  Wash. U. and the surrounding area provide much of what many students want or desire, thereby limiting their exposure to the greater St. Louis area and culture. However, when it comes to tolerance and attitudes towards diversity, Wash. U. and its students exist in a bubble as well. Unlike the outside world, where our  liberal president won’t back gay marriage, where people can be fired for their actual or perceived sexual orientation, and where it is not uncommon to hear about the bashings and murders of our non-heterosexual or gender variant peers, many students at Wash. U. consider the phrase “that’s so gay” offensive and derogatory.

There are many student organizations that cater to the needs of students of all sexual orientations and genders: Pride Alliance (the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual student group), Safe Zones (a peer education group), and the Alternative Lifestyle Association (ALA), to name just a few. Professors and peers create a classroom environment where every non-violent comment is tolerated and respected. Couples of any gender can walk around campus hand and hand without fear.  The only thing not tolerated at Wash. U. – by professors, administrators, and students – is intolerance.

We must take advantage of the four years we have to live in this judgment-free world. It is easy to slip into a sense of complacency when we can be ourselves without ridicule or criticism, and it is easy to look around Wash. U. and forget that this is not the case in most other places in our country.  Violence and intolerance plague our world, and not only against LGBTQIA people.  People are discriminated against and even murdered for their religious, racial, and political identities.

At Wash. U., we have the unique chance to do something about these problems.  Join Pride Alliance and protest anti-gay legislation on the State House steps. Join Safe Zones and teach Resident Advisors and other peers about LGBTQIA issues. It is a waste to go through Wash. U. just taking classes, jumping through hoops, and walking away with a piece of paper without taking full advantage of what this university has to offer.

We have to take the opportunity we have here to work towards making the world’s level of tolerance mirror that of Wash. U. We must use the advantages and resources we have at Wash. U. to work for the good of the disempowered, marginalized, and oppressed. Get involved, volunteer, take classes that educate you about the issues you care about, and most importantly, care about something. Get excited, freshman – this will be an experience unlike any other.

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