By Madeline Turner and Nick Distefano
Safe Zone is a program that offers participants information about LGBTQIA+ identities and ways to support students by becoming allies.
The program is open to all members of the UCM community, including faculty and staff.
Candice Moran, a psychologist at the Counseling Center, has facilitated UCM’s Safe Zone workshops every semester for the last five years.
“A lot of the research shows that academic functioning, GPA and college graduation rates are higher, students mental health is better and substance use is lower when they have allied programs like this and when things like this exist on college campuses,” Moran said.
Eight participants, including professors and students, attended the workshop on Nov. 15 in the Elliott Student Union, Room 231.
There, they learned about what it means to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and the importance of not assuming someone’s gender. Participants also learned what it means to be an ally and the different types of pronouns, like they/them/their, zie/zim/zir and many more.
Moran’s presentation described an ally as “a person who associates or cooperates with another; supporter. To associate or connect by some mutual relationship, as resemblance or friendship.”
Anna Nickel, a sophomore nursing major and chapter assistant for Panhellenic Hall, attended the workshop in order to better understand the community and terminology.
“I didn’t understand or know a lot of information and I wanted more information,” Nickel said.
Nickel said she would recommend the program to others wishing to know more about the community and ways to become a supporter.
“It definitely helped me a lot,” Nickel said. “The teacher answered a lot of my questions and gave me a lot of good information.”
Participants also received informational documents about LBGTQIA+ community.
Moran discussed the importance of the program by informing participants that “10 percent of the population at UCM identify with the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Moran said that by becoming informed and becoming an ally, participants are helping the community.
“Forty percent of trans people attempt suicide each year (nationwide),” Moran said.
After completing the two-hour workshop, participants are declared allies. They are also asked if they would like to become public or private allies.
If they choose to become public, their name and graduation date or organization is provided on a list on the Safe Zone website, as well as dates and times of other workshops available each semester. The public list currently has over 130 allies, including over 50 students and more than 70 staff and faculty members.
Students who feel they are struggling with anything should also seek out help provided at the Counseling Center in the Humphreys Building, Room 131, or visit its website.
Moran encourages students, faculty and staff to get involved and participate in the program in order to provide a safe and comfortable space for the UCM community.