Students, W staff lead Safe Zone training

Jessica Barnett


Students, faculty and staff attended Safe Zone training in the President’s Dining Room on April 4.

The session was designed to educate members of the W community on issues faced by the LGBT community and to encourage support and acceptance of LGBT individuals. There were multiple presentations and activities.

Molly Rafaely, an intern at the MUW Counseling Center, hosted a panel of LGBT students from Mississippi State University and The W. The students answered questions about terminology, representation in classwork and ideas for improvement on campus.

“I feel like we would want on this campus the same thing that anyone would want anywhere on any campus, and that’s just to be accepted,” said Marissa Vaughn, who has attended The W for five years.

The panel also discussed Title IX protections for LGBT students, pronoun usage and how to handle students who voice concerns or fears.

“The things that you say to this person could decide their entire mental stability for the day, for the week, for the month… for their entire year,” said Elliot Hatch, Communication major at The W.

Rafaely also led a star activity. Each participant wrote a name or goal on each of the star’s five points. The star’s color determined whether that person, community or goal accepted or rejected the participant when they came out.

Reactions ranged from “upsetting” to “terrifying” to “sad,” though many agreed it was powerful. Some asked for copies of the activity to use in their own classes or organizations.

Those who successfully completed training signed an agreement to be an ally to the LGBT community and received a Safe Zone card to display in their office or campus area.

“All we ask is that you accept us,” said Hatch.