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Keweenaw Pride hosts forum addressing campus LGBTQIA+ issues

Last week on April 7 and 8, the Keweenaw Pride student organization held two equity forums at 7 p.m. in Wads G17/19. The forums discussed issues facing LGBTQIA+ individuals on campus by issuing  a survey prior to the event in order to gather information regarding the experiences of individual students. Present to introduce the forum on Thursday April 7 was the Dean of Students, Dr. Wallace Southerland, III, who spoke about his commitment to equity and invited students to have their say. 

Among the issues addressed by the forum was the short supply of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, which has been on the Keweenaw Pride docket since earlier this year. Though some buildings have adopted the proposed changes, representatives of Keweenaw Pride believe that more can be done to address this issue. Gender-neutral showers are in especially short supply, which can pose a problem for LGBTQIA+ students in university housing. 

Another topic of discussion was the experience of LGBTQIA+ students with professors at the university. While individual testimonies were broadly more positive than negative, some participants did note that there was still some work to be done in this area. Professors’ willingness to use a student’s declared pronouns was cited as an extremely important step in helping individuals to feel comfortable both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Keweenaw Pride intends to repeat the equity forum in the future, either annually or biannually, and stress the welcoming nature of their community. According to the organization’s president, Kieran Rowan, Keweenaw Pride has achieved great strides in establishing a safe space and a place to connect for LGBTQIA+ students on campus. They now hope to take a more direct role in ensuring a fully inclusive campus at the university, through activism and constructive interactions with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Dean of Students.


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