It is hard to believe the College Experience started off with only a handful of students in a program with an uncertain future back in 2005. Thirteen years later it has ballooned to just under forty students with two hailing all the way from Puerto Rico and Africa. As the program continues to become more diverse, we have and shall continue to step up our game to embrace the many different identities we are blessed to welcome into the program.
Students have advocated for a LGBTQA club that will be a safe place for students to speak about gender issues that affect them or choose to attend if they support others with these identities. The club has been proposed and organized by Gillian Friedlander, who is one of our College Experience tutors. The club started about a month-and-a-half ago and is known as the Rainbow Moon Club, which the students have named themselves.
Right before spring break the students made posters to hang on the door. They often talk about terms, issues, and come up with a few things that they want to do. Their current intentions are to perform a presentation for the Human Sexuality class that Kelly Weiss and Suzanne Bernier instruct. They are also planning a field trip to the Pride Center in Albany.
Volunteering is another goal, and a flurry of ideas took up much of the meeting time. They discussed performing a park cleanup for Earth Day in the spring, litter cleanup, or participating in the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. Max even proposed creating some kind of carnival.
The club definitely has some ground rules that are respected by all group members that include, but are not limited, to the following:
- Respect your differences.
- Nothing leaves the room What we talk about here does not leave the group.
- No bullying, no homophobia and no homophobic language or any type of language.
- No violence. If someone says something…don’t laugh.
- Make everyone feel welcome and comfortable.
- Have fun and be respectful and learn.
Gillian came up with the group as an option for those students who did not feel comfortable going to the Identity Club and revealing some of their personal issues to their classmates. The group meets every Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 PM.
As Gillian explained, “We are all good people, and if you ever have a problem you can always contact us so we may explain. We could always try to find a way. We make posters. We did a poetry thing on Valentine’s Day. We have done different art projects. We have sung songs. Some weeks we do a structured activity. Other weeks we just chat. It is good to know who on your staff identifies with a certain orientation so you know who to talk to about such things.”
From left to right in the photograph are Gina, Max, and Gillian showing off one of their posters advertising its colorful and original title!