Drinko event teaches Marshall faculty about Safe Spaces

The Safe Space training at Marshall University Thursday in Drinko Library helped faculty to better understand diversity as a whole and, more specifically, to gain a better understanding of students in the LGBTQ community.

Carla Lapelle, associate dean of student affairs, said this training gives an understanding of the variances and languages, helping the participants to see ways to be affirming to everybody, whether a person fits the stereotypical mold or not.

“People in the LGBT community don’t fit the typical social mold that America has made for men and women,” Lapelle said. “And a lot of times they find it difficult to maneuver through their lives.”

The discussion was led by Morgan Conley, mental health specialist at Marshall’s counselling center.

Conley covered a range of topics, including what to do if a particular individual were to identify themselves, differences between gender identity and gender expression and heterosexual privileges not extended to the LGBT community.

“I think when we compare ourselves to the general community, we are much more affirming,” Lapelle said. “If we compare ourselves to other universities, I really don’t know how we stand, but I know that we are coming up to speed with a lot of work to do in many areas; we are working so that is hopeful to me.”

Chris Hodge, project coordinator at Housing and Residence Life, said he wants to be inclusive and open as an ambassador for Marshall to students, providing a safe space.

“I am very proud to be a part of Marshall,” Hodge said. “I am proud of the steps we are taking as a university community, being more open and welcoming to our students.”

Hodge said Housing and Residence Life is taking proactive steps to be more open, including working on making some changes to application forms for the next application period regarding gender identity.

Stickers were provided at the end of the discussion for participants to place on their office doors, allowing students and individuals to know that it is a safe place for them to go and talk about their issues.

Kessyl Lim can be contacted at [email protected].