The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

New group "As Is" provides forum for students to discuss sexual, gender identities

By Zach Selke

Macalester’s latest campus organization, As Is, is unique not only in its goals-to provide a space for students struggling with issues regarding sexuality and gender-identity-but also in its origin. Several administrators, led by Dean of Students Jim Hoppe, came together to form the group.The facilitators of the group are school administrators and senior student peers who identify as GLBTQ.

The new group will differ from Queer Union (QU), a student organization dedicated to the discussion and advocacy of queer issues, in several important ways.

“As Is is focused on individual participant issues and is not intended to take on any of the form or functions of traditional student organizations,” Hoppe said.

Hoppe and other administrators presented the idea of forming As Is to QU, which responded with mainly positive feedback.

Bobbi Gass ’10, a student leader of QU, said, “I’m encouraged by the creation of the group. It’s important to remember that not all Mac students are completely certain with regards to their sexuality and that there is a large range of comfort levels. Although QU tries to be a safe space for all involved, it is also a political activist group.”

While QU is a well-established student org on campus, some administrators worried that it could be an intimidating environment for students struggling with their own sexual identities.

Eily Marlow, assisociate chaplain, associate for the Lilly Project and an As Is facilitator, highlighted the differences between the two organizations.

“While QU provides education and advocacy around LGBTQ issues, As Is will solely be a conversation circle where students can tell their stories of coming out and share any pressing situations,” she said. “QU probably could not function as well as it does if it put support and ‘coming out’ issues before its organizing efforts. We hope to work in collaboration with QU to provide a consistent place students can go for such support and conversation.”

Last year, the Princeton Review touted Macalester as the number one liberal arts colleges where the gay community is accepted. However, As Is coordinators have still kept in mind that coming out can be traumatic for anyone, regardless of their environment.

Even students who have been out for years still might have to wrestle with telling family and friends from home or experiencing internalized homophobia when encountering the heteronormative world,” Marlow said.

And recent campus occurrences, such as the homophobic comment left on a dry-erase board outside a door in 30 Mac several weeks ago, have indicated that Macalester is not immune to prejudice. Administration response has been swift in responding to incidents in the past and although the formation of As Is is not a direct response to these events, Marlow said, “As Is would be an ideal place for students to come and talk about feelings that arose in response to the incident.”

The group meets on Wednesdays in the Fine Arts Lounge from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

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