Ferris RSO D-Saga is helping create a more open-minded campus in Big Rapids.
The Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (D-Saga) is an RSO at Ferris educating students on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (glbt) issues.
President of D-Saga, Erica Patrick said the biggest issues affecting glbt college students are sexual harassment and derogatory language.
“There are many issues that are faced by the glbt community,” said Patrick. “Some of the biggest issues for students in particular are bullying, verbal and physical abuse and not feeling as though they have anyone to talk to.”
According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), many suicides within the glbt community are due to homosexual taunts.
“We personally do not have a large number of complaints/problems, but they do happen, and more than they should be,” said Patrick.
A business administration major, speaking under anonymity, said issues faced by glbt students at Ferris are partly due to social ignorance.
“One thing the campus can do is be accepting, understanding and not judge on sexual orientation,” said the anonymous student. “Glbt students simply want to be accepted.”
The student also said Ferris needs more support programs for glbt students.
“I feel the university is lacking in awareness of this group and needs to have more support of them,” said the anonymous student.
Patrick said Ferris has created many programs to help glbt students feel welcomed on campus. She also said the university is finding ways to continue student support.
“Ferris has a strong diversity program and a strong backing from the OMSS,” said Patrick. “There are efforts in the works to better the environment on campus.”
D-Saga advisor, Jon Shaffer said both the university and rso have changed dramatically over the years.
“Many students viewed being glbt as a scary thing,” said Shaffer. “They didn’t feel it was safe to be out.”
Shaffer has been D-Saga’s advisor for nearly 12 years and said its’ members have recently exposed themselves more on campus. Besides National Coming Out Day, Shaffer said the rso also holds pride panels discussing the experiences of being a glbt student at Ferris.
“You need to reach out,” said Shaffer. “There are a tremendous amount of resources.”
The anonymous student said all students at Ferris should be willing to define themselves as individuals.
“We are all humans and created equal,” said the anonymous student. n