Town hall held to address LGBTQ issues

Chris Toomey/The Watchdog
Chris Toomey/The Watchdog

On Tuesday, May 14, in D-106, Bellevue College held a town hall to discuss the struggles within the LGBTQ community. This forum was a way to bring up how to prevent future situations like the recent defacement of the LBGTQ Resource Center and other sensitive topics about the safety of queer students on campus. In total, 73 students and faculty members attended.

The first 40 minutes of the town hall was for student comment. Several members of the LBGTQ Resource Center stepped forward to talk about their experiences as queer people on campus and to answer questions about the vandalism incident as well as their general daily lives.

Sam Crenshaw, a member of the Resource Center talked about his struggles as a transgendered man. He described a need for more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. In talking about what he has faced as a member of the LBGTQ community on campus, Crenshaw broke down into tears, saying, “I can’t walk across campus without being stared at or teased. I can’t do anything.”

Ali Collucci, the director of the Resource Center, expressed a feeling of helplessness, saying, “The fact that I can’t do anything to fix it, so that my higher ups can fix it, so that the supporters can’t do anything, so the allies can’t do anything, is a problem because it’s a vicious circle. [We] have a room full of people that want to help but they can’t. And I can’t give them the answers because I don’t even know what the questions are.”

After the student comments, several faculty members including Vice President of Diversity Yoshiko Harden, Assistant Dean of Student Programs Faisal Jaswal, Vice President of Student Services Ata Karim and BC President David Rule asked questions of the students and pledged their commitment to making BC an LGBTQ-friendly campus.

On May 16, during the weekly Associated Student Government Board of Directors meeting, Jaswal talked to the members of ASG about the recent disturbances that have been going on in the Resource Center. “I will tell you that the incident is still very, very disturbing to me, and my hope is that you all will play the role that you need to play to ensure that Student Programs is a safe place for all of our students.” Jaswal continued, “I also want you to spread the word—I really want to find out who did this. Like you, I have worked hard to create this safe space and this is not fair, for someone to come and write these words. It’s not okay for us to sit back and say, ‘This happened two weeks ago. Let’s move on.’ I want to move on, but I want to bring it to a close. Because if we do that and we don’t hold the responsible parties responsible, we can’t guarantee a safe space for people. I want you to consider this and I want you to spread the word and help find who the perpetrator is. I don’t want guesses, I don’t want rumors, but I do want people to come up with facts. Someone knows something about this.”