Advocacy and acceptance

Celebrating diversity and fostering understanding

Celebrating diversity on campus is an important part of cultural awareness and development. There are numerous platforms in which this can be done. 

Joining one of the different organizations that Ferris has is one of the best ways to bring awareness and community to diverse groups on campus. 

Ferris Advocacy and Education of Gender Identity and Sexuality (AEGIS) is one RSO that Ferris social work senior Connor McGahan believed helped him in many ways. 

“AEGIS has helped me a lot on campus with networking, becoming a better activist and making friends,” McGahan said. “Being a part of AEGIS has helped me get the internship I had and I know it will help me with future jobs to come.” 

There are still many challenges that the gender and sexuality minority (GSM) community face. Though AEGIS exists, McGahan and Ferris social work senior and AEGIS president Samantha Colavecchia agreed that they don’t feel entirely welcomed on campus. 

“I feel we are welcomed but not as much as we could be. Certain social circles accept us more than others” Colavecchia said. “I see the under representations and misunderstandings this community has. I can only hope that the work we do can help combat these.” 

It is always important to remember that it isn’t required to be a part of a certain community—to be able to advocate for it. Ferris pre-science junior Scott Rogers hopes for students outside of LGBT+ community to join AEGIS and to help them advocate for the community. As the vice-president of AEGIS, he has seen many challenges when it comes to inclusion. 

“I feel like students are worried that their friends will think they’re gay if they want to join our RSO. It’s hard to get people to understand that anyone can be an ally and an advocate and we actually need voices from outside the community to make sure we are heard,” Rogers said. “As far as the campus is concerned, there is an overarching theme to respect our community but we often experience pushback regarding things we have advocated for.” 

A good way to identify and overcome misunderstandings with a community is through education. There are different community groups and cultures everywhere, so it is important to have knowledge about them to be able to develop. 

“One of the things AEGIS does is create workshops/presentations geared toward specific majors and how that major will work with the GSM community. We believe that no matter what you choose to go into, you will run into someone that identifies with the community,” McGahan said. “Whether that is working with people or just having co-workers, it is important to be aware and inclusive of everyone regardless of gender identity or sexuality.” 

If you would like to learn more about AEGIS and the GSM community, meetings are held at 11 a.m. every other Tuesday in FLITE 135. The next meeting is Oct. 3.