In 1992 , a task force was started in order to improve the community on campus. From this task force many things came about. A person was designed to have 1/4 of their job pertain to LGBTQ issues, and a resource library was formalized alongside LGBTQA concerns committee and, encouraged Ally Training. After looking at other school’s programs, West Chester University developed their own Ally training program that was implemented in 1996. In addition to Ally training, about one year ago LGBTQ 101 was formed as a prerequisite to Ally training. The reason for this is it was found that many people who meant well wanted information, but were not ready to take the next step to be an Ally. Both programs are run by
Dr. Jacqueline Hodes, Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs and Coordinator of LGBTQA Services, and Dr. Rodney Mader, an English and women’s and gender studies professor who is also faculty associate for LGBTQA service.
Dr. Hodes expresses that, “[Rodney’s] commitment is an unmatched dedication to make a difference on this campus.” Other Allies have helped present in the past and allies are welcome to offer their help to present these two programs.
These programs are very important to have on our campus. Dr. Hodes explains, “It’s hard to tell who has is an Ally just by looking at them, but with a sticker on their door students can see there is a safe place for them to go.”
There are so many layers around sexual orientation and it can be scary for an LGBTQ person looking for support in a heteronormative world, but when professors have an Ally sticker on their door students can see they have support here on campus.
There are 150 student Allies and 225 faculty or staff Allies on campus. Dr. Hodes states, “It’s amazing how many people take the time out of their busy schedules to complete two one-hour sessions in order to make a critical difference in the lives of LGBTQ students.”
Some Allies themselves wanted to share with the community their thoughts and feelings about Allies and the Ally program. Dr. Adele Bane, Associate Director of WCU library services explains what being an Ally means to her.
“We all need an “Ally” in life at some point. For me, an Ally offers a safe space which is there when needed and reassuring even if not needed. Just seeing the many Ally signs on campus reinforces the feeling that everyone is valued and that differences should be celebrated ,not shunned.”
Dr. Lauri Hyers, Associate Professor of Psychology shares that, “It lets students, faculty, staff, and visitors know that WCU is safe space for LGBTQ students – I wish we had an ally program for every group that feels marginalized or alienated.”
Lastly, Dr. Lisa Ruchti, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and a professor in the Anthropology and Sociology department states, “Although I am part of the LGBTQA community, I am an Ally because I am wholly devoted to making our campus climate safe and secure. LGBTQA violence is perpetrated in part based on perception, not identification. No one is safe unless we are all safe.”
In order to sign up for LGBTQ 101 or Ally training if you have already completed LGBTQA 101, go to the LGBTQA services webpage and follow the directions. If any group of students wants LGBTQ 101 for their organization, they should contact Dr. Hodes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebekah Balmer is a fourth-year student majoring in women’s and gender studies and sociology . She can be reached at RB649636@wcupa.edu.