LGBTQ+ organizations re-establish presence on campus

By Heather Fabritze

Student Life Editor

After a few semesters of inactivity, Washington College’s LGBTQ+ clubs returned with a packed schedule of events and a renewed presence on campus.

WC boasts three primary organizations for students who identify as LGBTQ+ to join — Encouraging Respect of Sexualities (EROS), Supporting All Gender Experiences (SAGE), and the LGBTQ+ athletes club. All three groups advocate for an inclusive environment on WC’s campus and within the student community through events.

EROS and SAGE became inactive in-person during the pandemic. Both organizations were minimally present in the 2021-22 academic year and did not hold meetings.

EROS President sophomore Morgan Carlson took the initiative to request leadership of the club at the end of last semester. According to Carlson, the absence of EROS was felt by them and other LGBTQ+ students at WC.

When it appeared that EROS would go another year without events, Carlson jumped in to re-establish its presence on campus.

“Our mission is to just essentially create a safe space for everyone who’s a part of the LGBTQ+ community,” Carlson said. “To kind of strengthen knowledge of LGBTQ+ culture as well as to provide awareness to other people.”

The club’s schedule of events for the upcoming semester, as of their informal planning session on Sept. 1, includes an LGBTQ+ poetry night, a cookie fundraiser for coming out day, Bi Bingo, and game and movie nights. EROS also plans to hold general weekly meetings for those more inclined to hang out and bond.

Carlson said it was a priority to allow other LGBTQ+ students to have a say in what initiatives EROS takes on.

“[Students] should get involved because we’re going to be doing essentially anything that they want to do,” Carlson said. “It’s going to be a great thing to raise awareness, support other people, just support the community as well. And to be engaged with like-minded people and a really cool, accepting community.”

Crossovers with its adjacent organizations, SAGE and LGBTQ+ athletes, were a large priority going into event planning. Much like EROS, SAGE was absent from campus last year.

SAGE President sophomore Evan Merk also took charge of club leadership at the end of last semester. Currently, his plans include an initiative to make a clear, established guide as to where gender neutral bathrooms are in campus buildings. He also hopes to hold a clothing swap later in the year to encourage students to try out new clothing styles or pick up new items.

Merk, through these events and general meetings, wants to build a space at WC where transgender students can feel as though they are being listened to.

“I think WC in many ways is a great school for trans people,” Merk said. “But every school can use work and trans people need to know there’s a safe place on this campus where they’re supported, and cared about, and heard.”

Ensuring that transgender students have an outlet was one of the main missions of SAGE. The LGBTQ+ athletes shared that goal, particularly in regards to athletic spaces on campus.

According to President junior Emily Arnold and Vice President sophomore Emily Markley, being a WC student athlete and a member of the LGBTQ+ community simulatenously can often be isolating.

“I came out partly through the middle of the year and it was just a lot of stress and anxiety for me, just because it’s not something that [was] really common within our sports team at the time,” Markley said. “I just kind of felt alone. Like, I was singled out again, and I didn’t really want to be.”

The club’s plans for the year involve increasing awareness of the community amongst WC’s sports teams through pride-themed games.

Arnold acknowledged that there was little action they could take outside of themed games and events, but wants LGBTQ+ athletes to know that there will always be a space for them.

“There’s not much we can do around the campus except to advertise the fact that this is a safe open space where anybody in the athletic department, as of right now, is welcome to join,” Arnold said. “…It’s just different having to come out to your entire team. You change in the locker room with your teammates and go through that entire process. The only thing we really can do on campus is offer that safe space and be your friend or someone to listen to.”

All three organizations share this sentiment and agreed to collaborating on events as the semester progresses at the planning session.

Photo courtesy of Evan Merk

Photo Caption: The EROS and SAGE executive boards held a planning session in their shared space in the Intercultural Affairs Center.

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