Diversity Advocacy for Identity and Sexuality Empowerment broadcasted their fairly new Registered Student Organization during their first big event Queer and Glad You’re Here.
During the 2023 spring semester, DAISE had two small events that soft-launched their RSO. After a full summer of planning amidst losing E-board staff, the event held 83 students and 43 faculty and staff. This was widely successful for the members of DAISE.
The event started off with a presentation about DAISE and the LBGTQ+ Resource Center. Social work junior Al Alley is the president and founder of the RSO. Alley spoke about DAISE’s plans for the semester, while Vice President Nora Fiero talked about the Center’s resources and events offered to students.
After the presentation, attendees participated in an icebreaker bingo where they got to learn more about different resources on campus and meet allies and members of the community.
When Alley first started at Ferris, they felt disconnected from everything and everyone. Alley started to feel motivated to start fresh and get involved during their four years at Ferris after talking with their advisor. They started going to cultural RSO events and academic life coaching.
“I really put myself out there because that was one of my big goals,” Alley said. “Just seeing those communities there and being welcomed by all of them, I wanted the LGBTQ community to also have a space where people could feel the same. And that’s how I came up with DAISE.”
Alley looks at their past struggles as motivation to be more active on campus and “be what they didn’t have” as a freshman. They feel that their experience makes it easier for them “to understand and empathize with people going through similar things.”
After the LGBTQ+ Resource Center was in between directors, Alley felt as if the community “crumbled.”
“Under those conditions, the majority of programming that was centered around community building and support for LGBTQ+ students kind of petered off,” Alley said.
In Dec. 2022, Alley started volunteering for the Center and noticed a need for representation, support and a “sense of belonging.” Alley and their co-founder digital animation and game design sophomore Sherlyn Trejo-Villegas realized this was something they both wanted to achieve.
“DAISE started in mind with wanting to make sure that it’s welcoming to everybody. We just wanted to secure a space that made sure that [hate] wasn’t tolerated,” Alley said.
Alley didn’t know about the majority of resources until they started asking around and “doing that work” themselves. They believe that there’s “a lot of energy taken out of marginalized communities.” By hosting this event, Alley hoped those communities would feel as if DAISE was reaching out to them.
Alley and Trejo-Villegas’ hopes for this event and DAISE in general are aligned. Like Alley, Trejo-Villegas would have been satisfied with a small attendance as long as it helped those students know about Ferris’ resources and where they could feel and be accepted.
“I know it can be difficult because sometimes you find yourself being ostracized or not being accepted,” Trejo-Villegas said. “The whole goal of this event was to show the staff and faculty that [those students] can count on and rely on.”
According to Alley, DAISE got a lot of encouragement from the Center for Latino Studies, the Hispanic Student Organization and the Asian Student Organization.
“They’ve really been such a huge help when it comes to making sure that DAISE and LGBTQ students are welcomed at their events and that it’s a safe space. They’ve offered a lot of advice and support for us,” Alley said.
Health information and health care systems administration senior Nicole Ly is a board member of ASO and considers herself an ally of the LGTBQ+ community. Ly fe els that there is a “tight bond” between the marginalized groups. She became fast friends with Alley as they are both a part of cultural groups at Ferris.
“I actually became connected with Al through events hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Services, and I’ve only known them for about five months,” Ly said. “Now we support each other during our events, and we like to help each other out.”
Ly has been able to watch Alley grow professionally by “leaps and bounds,” and she feels that Alley has seen her develop leadership skills. She describes this experience as the “coming-of-age moments” that aren’t noticed until they’re over.
Ly “got to work” as soon as she got to the resource center before the event.
“I was like, ‘What do you need help with? Is there anything that I can do to support you?’” Ly said. “Because in a student leadership position, especially at a predominately white institution, there’s a lot of pressure on us to not only do good but to excel. And that pressure is very crushing. Anything that we can do to support student leaders and students helps.”
Sophomore Comeela Shepard was an attendee at Queer and Glad You’re Here. As they are a part of the community, Shepard has struggled with finding a place where they feel welcomed. They went to this event in search of a place where they were accepted and liked for themselves.
“This was a really good event to connect people and help find a community within other communities,” Shepard said. “I liked that they brought different representatives from different groups into one event and let them share their story and what they’re about so you can find a place you fit into.”
Alley felt proud of the event’s success and the “sense of community” during it. Members of the RSO are hoping this welcoming event to be annual. With a lot of trial and error, the group now knows what to do in the future to make the planning process and hosting “even better.”
“I wouldn’t be here without the support that I’ve gotten the last couple of years and I just want my time here to make sure that by working on a few of the big problems, it makes Ferris a kinder place for LGBTQ+ students so it’s a little bit easier to make big monitor monumental change,” Alley said.
Some other events DAISE’s will host this semester are support groups, study tables and movie nights. Meetings are every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. in the LGBTQ+ Resource Center. For more information on DAISE, visit their Instagram daisefsu.
Copyeditor Marlow Losey helped with the reporting of this article.