ISC Exec Board gets 'safe space' training
Holsinger says chapters should take independent action
“I think there’s a perception with sororities that being in the ISC and being in the LGBTQ community are mutually exclusive,” ISC Public Relations Chair Sarah Holsinger, a third-year Architecture student, said. “I definitely think that’s false, and it’s a perception that needs to be changed.”
Members of the Inter-Sorority Council Executive Board participated in Safe Space Training in the LGBTQ Center Wednesday.
Scott Rheinheimer, coordinator for LGBTQ student services, and fourth-year College student Brendan Wynn trained six members of the board on creating safe spaces within the ISC for LQBTQ students.
“I think there’s a perception with sororities that being in the ISC and being in the LGBTQ community are mutually exclusive,” said ISC Public Relations Chair Sarah Holsinger, a third-year Architecture student. “I definitely think that’s false, and it’s a perception that needs to be changed.”
Holsinger said taking an initial step of educating the executive board could eventually disseminate to individual chapters and presidents.
“I think the entire community can be better educated,” she said.
The training process focused on finding support for LGBTQ students who are part of the ISC. Board members learned how to create safe spaces for LGBTQ people in the traditional spaces of the University.
Rheinheimer and Wynn went over terminology, discussing things such as the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality, terminology within transgender population and the use of appropriate pronouns.
Rheinheimer expressed how important what words one chooses are to a community.
“People like you are what can be a [support] for [someone coming out],” Wynn said to the board members.
Dean of Students Allen Groves also spoke to the board. He related things to his own experience in college, as a gay man in a fraternity.
“[I was] mortified that my fraternity brothers would find out that I was gay,” he said. “It is a really tough environment when you’re terrified about how you’re going to be perceived.”
Groves said board members need to stake out a position to make their sorority members feel comfortable. He challenged board members to “think hard about how we make this a space where people feel comfortable and welcomed and loved.”
Groves said the more the community can show LGBTQ students they won’t be rejected, the more they will be able to find someone who they can trust in the group.
Holsinger said unsafe spaces in the ISC are not openly discussed, but more implied.
“It’s something that’s more subtle,” she said. “[It’s] not even in an aggressive way, but more like people constantly talking about their boyfriends and dating guys, and it might be a little alienating for some people.”
Upon completion of the training, board members are expected to reject homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, following a safe space pledge.
“I think my favorite part of this training was laying it out concretely,” said ISC President Julia Pedrick, a third-year College student. “[H]ow to react in certain situations and how to understand the spectrum or understand the different obstacles people face in different parts of understanding their sexuality internally and coming out to their friends.”
She said the individual chapters are in a unique position to create a supportive environment.
“Chapter exec boards have so much power just in their day to day emails, how they interact with them and how they talk about social functions or sisterhood or ritual,” Pedrick said. “They spend so much more time on an individual level with members.”
She said she will push all of the individual chapter presidents to get their executive boards safe space trained.
“It’s about being more accepting and being less assumptious about who makes up our community and really making it a place where everyone can be comfortable,” Holsinger said.