The Chronicle’s View: Help the U to be a true Safe Zone

Sexuality should never factor in to how students are treated at school.

Students with sexual orientations other than heterosexual are a minority on campus. Minorities are always at risk of being treated differently, and possibly unfairly, by the majority. The U campus is no different.

In order to cultivate a campus that is comfortable for students of all races, religions, ethnicities and sexual orientations, everyone needs to engender sensitivity.

The first Safe Zone sensitivity training session was held yesterday to educate faculty and staff on how to make members of the U’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community feel comfortable on campus.

Relationships are essential for education. Education is tough and strong relationships enable students and professors to support each other in the delivery and reception of knowledge and skills.

Sometimes personal differences can inhibit strong relationships. One such difference is sexual orientation.

Some people are uncomfortable around sexual minorities. Whether this is right or wrong, forgivable or not, tolerable or intolerable, it is a reality and it isn’t fair to let that get in the way of relationships.

Students deserve to feel comfortable and welcome in an educational situation. Feelings about sexual orientation should not disrupt that. U faculty members need to extend the same professional, caring and supportive interest to every student.

Some students take personal, as well as academic, problems to professors for help. For many members of the LGBT community, professors are sometimes more accessible than the counselors at the LGBT Center in the Union.

Every professor should have an open-door policy to students. No sexual minority student should feel that the center is the only place where they are respected or understood.

This principle extends beyond the student-faculty relationship. Many resident hall authorities are concerned about ensuring that the dorms are a safe and comfortable place for all students. They should be. If there is one place that should feel safe it is one’s home or dwelling.

As one person at the training session said, “We are a place of learning. Are we focusing on their sexuality or helping them get an education?” No one should be focused on sexuality. We are all here as students and should be treated equally as students.

Personal feelings about homosexuality should have no influence whatsoever on the level of sensitivity and understanding that exists at the U.