Gay? Fine by Canisius

By Jasmina Tacheva
Assistant Opinion Editor

Over the past three days Canisius has been invaded by a colorful army of t-shirts. Rather than being mere vagaries of fashion, they carry a very short but crucially important message. They say that whoever wears them is a friend of diversity and social dialogue and a foe of homophobia.

This, according to philosophy professor Steven Halady, a firm supporter of the ‘Gay? Fine by Me’ project, is an important way to raise awareness of the invisibility of both the LGBTQA community and those who show solidarity with its struggle. By visually declaring our support, we help create a safer and more welcoming environment and diminish oppression.

The shirts were offered for a dollar on Wednesday afternoon by Unity, Canisius’ gay-straight alliance. All revenues will go to Gay and Lesbian Youth Services of Buffalo. Despite the overall success of the campaign, the club’s Canisius Community Outrach Coordinator, Neil Savoy, voiced concerns about Unity’s declining email outreach. Like other organizations on campus, it is experiencing difficulties sharing information on upcoming events with the Canisius community because, as of last year, clubs can no longer send emails directly to the student body. “We reach people through Collegiate Link,” Savoy said. “People can only get information from the club if they’re on the roster. And if they’re not on the roster, the emails don’t reach them.”

Unity is trying to overcome this technical obstacle through the social networks. Last year the club created a Facebook page and a Twitter account. “We’re working on having a presence on social media, especially so that alumni can see how we’re continuing to develop,” Savoy said.

Asked about her opinion on the attitude of the school’s faculty and staff toward Unity, Savoy said, “We have overwhelming support from Campus Ministry, Campus Programming and Leadership Development, the administration, Residence Life, and just about every office on campus along with strong student support.” Although he identifies some well-known misunderstandings with the administration, Savoy recognizes they are not the administration’s fault because it has to abide by certain rules pertaining to the Catholic affiliation of the college.

“Our biggest goal is to create a safe and supportive environment for all students, especially those that are included in the LGBTQA community,” Savoy added. By maintaining a warm and open atmosphere, Unity provides LGBTQA students with an incentive to choose Canisius over other schools. “Last year we had a campus wide event in which students, faculty, and staff created “It Gets Better’ videos, which clearly showed the sort of campus-wide support we hope to foster.”

In the fall Unity is starting a peer-mentoring group project that will try to help both college and high-school students and potentially aid high schools by establishing sister programs with them.

“I hope members, old and new, will continue to participate and, by doing so, will work to create a compassionate and supportive environment that we pride ourselves on,” Savoy said after welcoming the new E-Board at the last meeting for the semester Thursday night.


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