The Office for Social Justice and Diversity hosted a Safe Spaces Training Seminar on Wednesday, February 23 in the ballrooms of the Student Center to ensure a positive and inclusive lifestyle for students at the State University of Montclair inside and outside the LGBTQIA+ community.
Participants participated in writing their names and pronouns on a name tag and answered reflective questions to understand what life is like for people within the LGBTQ+ community today, in addition to identifying which language supports them or hurts them.
Students and faculty were welcomed at the event. Their ideas and experiences were to be discussed in a positive and educational way.
Blaine Doerflein, a fifth-year graduate student in English teaching, explained his feelings about the seminar.
“It’s extremely important to have training like this because many are unaware of the different struggles we face,” Doerflein said. “Being part of the LGBTQ community, myself, when my partner and I go out every day, we ask ourselves: ‘Are we going to be attacked today because of our identities?’ »
Sara Duricko, a psychology major, shared her thoughts on Safe Space training and how it served as the foundation for what she wants to pursue in her future career.
“Personally, I think there’s a huge need to learn more about the community to show people what’s right and wrong to say,” Duricko said. “It’s important to get a sense of the good communication you find in a seminar like this. I plan to become a therapist, and knowing the right communication formats will definitely allow me to connect with many LGBTQ members in a deep and smooth way.
Upon completion of the seminar, attendees signed a sheet pledging to be active allies to the LGBTQ+ community and received a Safe Space themed pin and sticker to show others what they had learned during the seminar.
Jean Moreno-Lassalle, instructional designer for the university’s Instructional Technology and Design Services (ITDS), explained how beneficial it was to attend the seminar.
“In our ITDS department at University Hall, [there was] no one left who was trained at Safe Space,” Moreno-Lassalle said. “And as a member of the LGBTQ community, with this training, I can be sympathetic to others in the workspace. [and use] valuable lessons learned.
Brie Krug, the evenings and facilities coordinator for the student recreation center, made the connection between the seminar and her work.
“I am very happy to be here [and] help support my students [in finding] how to interact with others safely and get an idea of the best ways to bond with each other,” Krug said. “And this formation does just that.”
Ebony Jackson, Deputy Director of the Office for Social Justice and Diversity, and Warren Rigby, the Student Coordinator, both presented various ideas and perspectives to members of the LGBTQ+ community and explained how outsiders can support them as well. They also gave their opinion on what Safe Space training covers.
“Many times what I get [out of this] is that I’m able to hear different experiences whether they identify with the community or not,” Jackson said. “And having support for these essential topics shows what a strong society can be made of.”
Rigby explained what he hopes to accomplish by offering Safe Space training.
“Education on these subjects is very important, and there are different generations of people in this room who have lived under changing rules over their lifetimes,” Rigby said. “It gives a perspective of how these different types of people come together in the present moment to create a stronger community that is well suited for the future.”