Every GSA meeting begins the same way: a member of the board introduces themself, states their name and pronouns, and asks an ice-breaker question to be answered by everyone in the group. These questions can be anything, from a pleasant memory with friends, to a favorite smell, to what type of potato you would be. Their goal is simple: to get the group comfortable and talking when they turn their attention to often serious or difficult topics in the LGBTQ+ community.
Ursinus’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, or GSA, is devoted to creating a safe and open space where members of the LGBTQ+ community can share their thoughts and learn about a number of important topics. The meetings often center around less well-recognized identities in the community, such as nonbinary identities. At other times, the focus is a specific issue such as stereotypes in media or transgender rights. The GSA is also run entirely by students, which allows them to have the greatest amount of control over the group and the community they wish to create.
In addition to its weekly meeting, the group organizes LGBTQ+ speakers, educational events and an annual student-run drag show. One of its most popular events is the Gayla, a party held each semester designed to be a safe space for anyone who wants a truly accepting social experience.
The GSA isn’t Ursinus’s only LGBTQ+ resource, however. The Rainbow Resource Center, a division of the Institute for Inclusion and Equity, handles the more administrative side of things. The Rainbow Resource Center advocates for Ursinus’ LGBTQ+ community in the classroom and across campus. It works alongside the administration to redesign and institute programs that create the most inclusive possible environment.
Students can also apply to live at 777 Main Street, known by its residents as “Queer House.” 777 is dedicated to providing housing where LGBTQ+ students can feel absolutely at home. While only upperclassmen can live in special interest housing like Queer House, 777 always keeps a door open for anyone who wishes to enter. Transgender and nonbinary individuals can go through 777’s free clothing swap to find clothes that better fit their desired presentation. Each resident of the house also hosts one program per semester that is related to the house’s goals, creating even more fun and casual LGBTQ+ events on campus.
Ursinus’ LGBTQ+ resources are constantly working to create greater awareness and inclusivity—and their work is clear. As Robin Gow (’18), former president of the GSA and student director of the Rainbow Resource Center states, “Ursinus’s queer and ally community has been so supportive and accepting over my years here—my professors always impress me at how much they support and advocate for students.” —By Audrey Pitcher ’19