By Melissa Theodorakatos
One month ago, the Dowling College G.S. Alliance kicked off its first LGBT History Month. Co-Presidents Joanna and Melissa hosted multiple events throughout October with hopes to educate the Dowling community and provide opportunities for old and new members to enjoy themselves. A quick recap of each event is given below:
10/5/10 – “Celluloid Closet” Movie Night Held like the club’s monthly Family Nights, this event included party foods and dinner, a family style dinner discussion, and a screening of the film Celluloid Closet, which documents the portrayal of the LGBT community in film. The night was a complete success, with new attendees showing interest in the club and taking part in the group discussion regarding being part of the LGBT community in our society.
10/11/10 – National Coming Out Day/Vigil/Secret Share The GSA’s National Coming Out Day event took place from 1–6PM outside the doors of Racanelli. The club gave away ally pins and information materials to anyone passing by in order to spread awareness throughout the college community. Individuals were given the opportunity to sign an ally pledge after retrieving the information to help show support for the LGBT community. People could also put a secret in the Coming Out Day Secrets Box, which was used later on that night. A mock closet was set up beside the club’s table to provide the opportunity for people to take pictures of them “coming out” of the closet while holding up signs revealing a secret. The club sold cookies and photo printouts in order to fundraise for future events. At 7PM, the club held a candlelight vigil outside the Dowling Well for all the individuals who committed suicide because of LGBT related bullying. A small group gathered around the club presidents while each name of the victims was read and the candles were lit. The group walked down the path through the parking lot until they reached the Performing Arts Center. The club presidents read descriptions of each suicide incident followed by a simultaneous blowing out of the candles in remembrance. Later in the evening, the club hosted a Secret Share where each slip of paper placed into the secret box was read aloud for fun, with some attendees even indicating what they personally had written. People were encouraged to share their own coming out stories with the group, which sparked discussion for the remainder of the night.
10/26/10 – Diversity Town Hall Meeting: America Past and Present – Gay and Lesbian Americans The GSA encouraged members to attend the annual Diversity Town Hall meeting for Dowling due to its focus on LGBT related information. Co-President Joanna Goodman was on this year’s panel along with Dr. O’Connor, Iris Blumenthal, and moderator Dr. Johnson. The turnout of the event was extremely noteworthy, with an audience that not only engaged themselves in the discussion but took part in asking questions, providing insight, and commenting on spoken materials.
10/28/10 – Bake Sale The GSA ended off the month by holding a bake sale inside Racanelli, with the Art Club as its co-sponsor. The sale was extremely successful, raising enough money for the GSA to enhance its budget, and expand further in its upcoming events.
By Caitlin Curry
Now I know what you’re thinking: this is probably a cool club where the members mess around and have fun, but that’s not really true. It’s a support group lead by Professor Bertsch in the main lobby of the Brookhaven dorms. The group meets every Wednesday from about 7:00 to 8:00PM. When I walked into the meeting, it was very welcoming; the members were smiling at me, and the packages of fruit rollups and Capri Sun didn’t hurt either. “Keepin’ it Real” is a new group that has only had a few meetings so far. The first meeting was to discuss what the group was all about; and the second, to talk about time management, which is a key ingredient to being successful. I attended the third meeting, where the focus was help with the upcoming midterms. The group is really aimed toward helping students with academic issues and emotional stress. The great thing about the group that makes it so unique is the fact the students really help each other; they tutor and give advice to each other rather than receiving help from an adult.
Professor Bertsch explained, “It’s really all about empowering students” and it definitely does. Jacqueline DeMartino, Kerwin Sieara, and Anthony Azikiwe are the real leaders of the group who have contributed the most to its development and success. They attend all the meetings and really make themselves available for their fellow peers. What I personally think is the best thing about the group is the fact that it gives students a voice. Professor Bertsch set up a meeting last week with some of the FYE professors. Kerwin, Anthony, and Jacqueline attended the meeting to speak and represent the group with their thoughts and ideas. They talked about how the FYE classes are supposed to ease students into college, but sometimes the professors tend to turn away from that approach and teach however they want to. “After we talked, the professors seemed really open to our perspectives and really wanted to take our opinion on how to improve FYE classes” says Jacqueline DeMartino. Kerwin Sieara stated, “It feels good to know that the administration is listening.” With peer tutoring and emotional support, this group is really warm and helpful. There are about 17 students in the group, and there is always room to welcome many more. So, if any students need emotional support or help with a test, essay, or class, feel free to stop by; the group would love to help you!