08 December 2011

Occupy Purdue Press Release for December 10th

For those interested I just received this in my email (note I have removed the phone numbers). I have only attended one General Assembly for Occupy Purdue, but I know that it has been working on some pretty awesome stuff:
December 8th, 2011
Press Contacts:
Occupy Purdue
Josh Iddings – [Removed]
Jubin Rahatzad– [Removed]
Lamise Shawahin – [Removed]
Benjamin Gehlausen – [Removed]

Occupy Purdue
Human Rights Day: Global Day of Action

West Lafayette, IN – A coalition of West Lafayette organizations and community members will hold a rally and march in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and Human Rights Day on December 10th, 2011. The date corresponds with the Global Day of Action for Human Rights Day. The family-friendly rally will take place at 3:00pm in front of Lambert Stadium, followed by a march that will begin at 4:00pm. The march will be along Northwestern Avenue, turning right after MSEE and will conclude at the engineering fountain. Following the march, at 5:00pm there will be a general assembly (GA) meeting. Members of Occupy Purdue will explain the GA protocol and provide a few short speeches, then open forum where all present are welcome to speak

Global civil society is being threatened by a system based on ruthless exploitation and the violation of fundamental human values, a system which represses basic freedoms and consistently prioritizes the greed of the few over the needs of the many. The people at the helm of this system profit immensely from war, environmental disasters, and economic meltdowns, and they rely on brutal dictatorships worldwide to protect those profits Dr. Noam Chomsky, long time political activist and professor at MIT said, “The Occupy Movements are the first substantial popular response to a sustained assault on the general population that has been underway for 30 years.” Chomsky continued, “The movements have real promise for moving on to energize a major popular movement that will confront and reverse tendencies that are harming Americans badly today and are likely to do worse tomorrow. The Purdue initiatives are very welcome steps forward on this desperately needed path.”

April Burke, a member of the occupy movement described what attracted her to the movement, “I am a member of Occupy Purdue and the global occupy movement because I am dedicated to fostering social and economic justice for all persons. I see this as an opportunity for people to come together to discuss and change the failures of our current economic, political, and social systems.” Burke continued, “these systems prevent us from living together in peace and reaching our fullest potentials.”

For more information on the Occupy Movement, we encourage you to attend the general assembly meeting or visit http://occupywallst.org/ and http://occupytogether.org/.

The Global Day of Action rally and march will take place on Saturday December 10th at 3:00pm in front of Lambert Stadium. Lambert Stadium is located on the corner of Northwestern Avenue and Mackey Arena. The rally and march will be entirely family-friendly and inclusive.


Occupy Purdue is a group of community members and organizations responding to the ongoing financial, social, and environmental struggles in the United States through peaceful demonstration and community education.
twitter: @purdueoccupy

26 November 2011

Richard Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies

The Occupy Movement tries to address income inequality. I feel some people aren't sold on income inequality, but the link of quality of life and income inequality is strong. This is true for both the wealthy and the poor. Here is some evidence:

23 November 2011

Occupy Wall Street Ingenuity

The things that Occupy Wall Street has done is amazing me and I think it is fantastic. The fact that they set up a library, set it up quickly, and were so worried about it when the entire encampment was disrupted was unique by itself. The mic of the people is awesome, as is the fact that democracy is used to make decisions.

The movement keeps amazing me. I just saw that today that a Thanksgiving meal will be served at Occupy Wall Street. It flows so nicely from the idea! The fact that in the face of everything Occupy has been through, and our country has been through, that Occupy Wall Street has found a way to get food to its people and celebrate everything they are thankful for.

I think it is spectacular and shows the commitment to the cause. Occupy Wall Street gets another thumbs up from me! I also want to encourage everybody, regardless of your position, to remember all that we have to be thankful about. I also encourage people not to forget what we COULD have too. For today though, for Thanksgiving, let's remember even when it seems horrible we still have it far better than many people can ever hope for.

16 November 2011

Concealed Carry Failed

For those interested in my last two posts, concealed carry failed to pass at Purdue Student Government (7-15-0 against).

I got worried with the ferociousness of supporters and the posts on the Twitter feed. I worried Purdue might be "conservative" enough to fall for this. Luckily, the senators thought it through tonight, and listened to ALL of their constituents.

Essentially, I remember why I feel Purdue Student Government is a powerful institution. They have worried me a few times this semester, but I think they are still very much going strong.

In Response to a Few Gun Comments

Since I have already heard back on some of my post concerning guns on campus, I will add a few statements concerning those issues.

1) My case is primarily based on doubt. When you throw out statistics, some people will notice when they are flawed, or when you need to consider something further. Yes, a few campuses across the country allow this. However, the largest one made in the case for allowing guns on campus is Colorado State University. This campus is essentially half the size of ours. What is the impact of this scale different? Having lived in cities and towns of a few different sizes, believe me, the dynamics change as the size changes. Don't assume that because a small university or college can do it without repercussions that a large university can. When you increase the number of people in an area, a lot of the dynamics change.

2) I don't get why some people think guns have to be allowed everywhere. Sorry, there is plenty of reason to believe that reasonable restrictions (such as those involving public property) are allowed. No, the constitution doesn't explicitly say there can be exceptions, but it also doesn't explicitly say there can't be. In other spots it is clear about things. Look at religion. No room for exceptions. Second amendment, we get to go with the court there.

3) Just because residency will allow some additional people to have guns, that doesn't mean that everybody will, and people still have to get residency. You are thus still creating an unequal dynamic. Also, if people in the residence halls aren't allowed to have guns, you are partially surrendering your argument about reasonable restrictions not being allowed.

4) This is still a radical change. 32 universities out of hundreds does not make it common. Granted that doesn't make it wrong, but it makes it something new and still very uncertain. We thus have to approach it with a lot of caution, and thus my argument that the case must be airtight still stands.

5) Proponents say out of twelve universities there have not been any gun thefts. I find this a little hard to believe, but don't have the time to back check that so I won't argue that right now. What I will ask is where did your other 20 universities go? Did they have issues of gun theft, gun crimes, et cetera?

6) Finally, I still want to know what this will cost the university. That issue was not addressed at all.

15 November 2011

Guns on Campus

Since Purdue Student Government’s website is STILL down (at least when I try it), I will make a post along the lines of what I would have told my senators:

I urge Purdue Student Government to reject a bill that would allow concealed weapons to be carried on campus. A bill of this magnitude should only pass PSG if reasonable doubt of its benefits can be dissuaded. That doubt is still strongly there concerning the proposal.

We could argue all day as to whether or not allowing guns on campus would make people safer. To be honest, we do not know. Under certain circumstances guns do make places safer. Under other circumstances guns make places more dangerous. In a campus environment, we do not know. While statistics are presented about who commits gun crimes, where they are committed, and the presence of guns in certain environments, we do not have adequate knowledge on the university environment. We do not know how allowing guns on campus will affect the safety of our campus.

The fact that this is so strongly debated, however, shows that it would have a clear impact on the learning environment, and that impact is negative. People don’t need another cause for concern. In places where the free exchange of ideas is important, guns are restricted. Guns are not allowed in most public K-12 schools. Guns are not allowed in most universities. Guns are not allowed on the floor of the Congress. Guns are not allowed in court rooms. Reasonable restrictions on weapons are absolutely allowed constitutionally. Case law concerning the reasonable restriction of weapons is plentiful. The second amendment does not mean guns must be allowed on campus.

Guns are not guaranteed to make our campus safer. Guns will hurt the learning environment at Purdue. The second amendment does not mean guns must be allowed on campus. Yet the doubts about their presence still remain. What would the rate of gun theft be in an area such as non-official student housing? How will gun theft risk be reduced? What additional resources need to be available to handle gun theft? Remember, students often live in close confines and with a lot of people passing through their homes. What rights will certain entities have to restrict the issue of guns? What extra resources will the Purdue police need due to this policy (regardless of whether it increases or decreases the safety of students)? How much will this cost the university to implement? What safety precautions will the university be willing and able to undertake? What about the effect of the increases in weapons in a high alcohol presence environment? If you do assume guns will increase safety for those with one, what about the students who are unable to bring one due to their living arrangement or status as a foreign citizen?

Even if you support allowing concealed weapons on campus, I think this resolution hurts your case. You have to do a whole lot more than go to a gun range to convince the university that this addition will be beneficial. Due to the reasonable doubt, the case made to support concealed weapons must be flawless. If the case is not flawless, every doubt will wreck the campaign. This is a very serious issue, one issue that has a lot of people worried. This is an issue that frankly makes people worry about their safety on campus. In order to get around this, you have to be perfect, and this resolution and its case simply are not. If you do support the idea, and are unwilling to vote no, I urge you to at least table the resolution again or abstain from the vote.

15 September 2011

Remembering Who We Are

One of my favorite movies is, "The Devil Wears Prada." One line in particular stands out (though I would consider it a  motif throughout human expression). When our personal life goes up in smoke, it means it is time for a promotion. That was sort of my life last year. The Queer Student Union zapped much of the life out of me. It was great, rewarding, and I would not take that year back. That said, there were times that I was an absolute wreck. People around me noticed my emotional downturn. It was rough. I held afloat (thanks to a few things like being told to retake an exam), but it was almost on the edge. I actually called Purdue's guidance services a few times and hung up, having a hard time committing to the call I should have made.

That being said, I have come to understand a lot of things far better than I ever would have thought, and life doesn't have to be lived the up-in-smoke way.

I am starting to get that fire back on my tounge, and to remember why I was doing it all in the first place. Part of that I get to place on Mortar Board. The decisions and discussions that I have been a part of by being on Mortar Board's ExComm, especially tonight, have reminded me why I have done what I do and why I must continue. It almost seems disconnected, but the meeting, the thoughts expressed by the leadership conference committee, and the talk I had in the car ride home just offered clarity I had lost.

Hopefully I keep that clarity. This year has been so much more enjoyable than last! Plus, it is reminding me of what is important - the supporting of other people. The supporting I can still do in all of my current positions (including freelance!). If supporting people isn't what it is about, then what is it? That is where I care. That is where I want to go. That is what I am doing. Flying Spaghetti Monster help those that won't accept that!

I was just plotting along before so I would not be mad at myself for falling too far behind. Let the fire reignite!

23 July 2011

Vegetarian Claskets

My family has a dish we call Claskets (I am sure it is a mumble of the original word, but it is what I know and am going to use). While here in Minnesota I have twice made bean patties, and I thought that these might work well as a vegetarian replacement for the meat in the claskets. In my opinion, they worked really well. They took a long time to make (3 hours) but it is all from scratch. The recipe is as follows:

1) Making the Noodle
3 Eggs
1 Medium Potato

Cook and mash the potato.
Beat eggs in a seperate bowl.
Combine the mashed potato and the eggs.
Add flour until it becomes a dough.
Put flour down and roll out the dough, roll thin and keep floured.

2) Making the Filling
⅓ cup black beans
⅓ cup white beans
⅓ cup red beans
1 medium onion
½ cup oats
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 egg
Salt and pepper

Soak the beans over night.
Boil the beans in water until well cooked.
Drain the beans.
Dice the onion.
Mix the diced onion, egg, chili powder, oats, and beans in a bowl.
Mash the mixture together until the beans are decently mashed.
Salt and pepper as desired.

3) Making the Claskets
Roll out the dough on a floured surface.
Make small balls of the filing, space them out on the dough.
Using a glass, cut circles out of the dough with the filing in the middle.
Fold over the dough and pinch the edges to surround the filing.
Boil the claskets in salt water until they float.
The claskets can now be stored for later (or even served now, and I enjoyed them at this stage too).
Fry the claskets, and serve (often with sour cream).

15 July 2011

Changing Purdue's Nondiscrimination Policy

We Won!

Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Genetic Information were added to Purdue's nondiscrimination policy. I am copying a portion of an email I made explaining how this was done:
Here at Purdue, we took advantage of Student Government. Through Purdue Student Government there are two senators representing the underrepresented through what is known as the "Council of Organizations for Respect and Equality." Based on talks, one of the senators ran with the idea, and took it to the full senate. We initially proposed adding Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Genetic Information, and Political Affiliation. We were shocked when it passed unanimously through student government, and part of that was probably that we packed the room. Anyway, nothing happened at the university level that time, so the next year we did it again but took advantage of PSG's ability to propose policy directly to the Board of Trustees. Obviously there were meetings with various administration before that. We included Genetic Information as there is actually a federal law that includes genetic information (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm) so it is something universities have to think about adding anyway. Political Affiliation was dropped to make it easier to pass the Board of Trustees. 
Initial Reasoning for Work

The LGBTQ Advisory Board under the office of the Provost was charged with identifying areas that Purdue could improve to encourage more diversity especially in the area of sexual and gender minorities. One of the areas identified was the non-discrimination policy. The board suggested the addition of gender identity and expression into the non-discrimination policy. During my first semester as a student I heard of an instance of gender identity discrimination, when an employee blocked a transgender student from going into the bathroom. After that, I went to the 2009 Midwest Bisexual Gay Lesbian Transgender Ally College Conference (with support from the Dean of Students) and learned of the importance of gender identity and expression in non-discrimination policies. I also talked to students from schools with the policy, and became jealous of their protections, and embarrassed at Purdue’s lack of protections for a highly marginalized population. Due to this, I decided that Purdue needs to protect students on the basis of gender identity and expression.

Amending - Gender Identity and Expression
(Note some of this information may have changed as this was written Summer 2009)

Gender Identity and Expression is included in a growing number of nondiscrimination and equal opporunity laws (One example would be the leading corporations - link). Republican Governor Mitch Daniels, through executive order, added gender identity as a protected class to several laws affecting state employees, including the Indiana State Employee Harrassment Policy (link) and the Equal Employement Opportunies for State Employees Policy (link).

In Indiana, gender identity and/or expression are included as protected classes in Marion County (link), Bloomington (link), South Bend (just for city employees - link), and Depauw University (link). West Lafayette added the protection in 2011.

Some of the Lafayette area's important businesses also include Gender Identity and/or Expression in their policies, including Eli Lilly (link) and Toyota (link). Suburu (link) even prides themselves on their corporate equality index for transgender people.

One might also note that on the national level, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which includes gender identity, has found success in Congress (link). Both Senator Lugar and Bayh of Indiana voted for this bill (link).

According to the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, as of 5 July 2009, thirteen states and DC include gender identity and/or expression in their antidiscrimination policies (link).  Three of these states are in the Midwest (Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota).

Beyond the world of politics and corporations, universities have been taking up the issue with full steam. All of the Ivy League Universities include gender identity and/or expression (link), and all of the Big Ten Universities include gender identity and/or expression.

Amending - Genetic Information
(Note some of this information may have changed as this was written Summer 2009)

Genetic Predisposition and Carrier Status are the blaring trains of nondiscrimination policies. They just seem like they are obviously going to come up. Already, many states and even the federal government have anticipated the potentials of genetic discrimination and passed laws.

Federally, genetic information can't be used by employers or insurance companies to discriminate (link). Indiana also has a law, Code 27-8-26, but it only applies to insurance companies, though it does define genetic testing/screening (link).

In the world of academia, out of the Big Tens and Ivy Leagues, only Columbia University has taken the move to include genetic protections in its nondiscrimination policy (link). Purdue has now made the addition (occurring in 2011). Its inclusion, however, could very likely be a trend. One of Lafayette's important businesses, Eli Lilly, includes protections for its employees (link), and others are almost certain to follow, especially because the federal government has already stated this is an important protected category. President Bush issued two statements of support, before eventually signing a bill, in 2003 (link) and 2005 (link). The National Genome Institute also has information on their website why steps must be taken to prevent genetic discrimination (link).

Genetic discrimination has real potential as testing becomes cheaper and faster. Purdue should take steps, as the federal government has, to protect people from genetic discrimination.

Additional Resources
QSU Press Release on the Addition

A Note on Housekeeping

Due to the recent purchase of my domain, I am in the process of revamping this to not just serve as a blog, but also as my personal website. Due to this for a short while you might get a lot of posts discussing old things. These are going to be used as pages on certain issues, and so please don't think your RSS feeds will always be so bombarded with my stuff.

Thank you!

Just bought my domain

I just bought genesjockey.com! I have thought about doing it for a long time, and finally made the leap (since blogger makes it pretty easy). I have been using the online alias genesjockey since early high school, and use it for pretty much everything. Now I just have to figure out how to set up Google Apps...

Edit: I figured out Google Apps. New primary email, though it forwards to my old email so it won't change anything you know, just gives me a cooler looking primary email.

09 May 2011

The Indiana State Legislature is Hurting All of Us

Hello, I am Nicholas Goldsmith, a 21 year old from Indiana and a Boilermaker - and the current Republican-controlled Indiana State Legislature is hurting me, my friends, and my family.

While I was born outside of DC, I have lived in Indiana for all of my living memory. My parents grew up in Indiana, and my grandparents grew up or lived out their days in Indiana. Yet I am afraid Indiana is slowly losing its home feeling. I can’t say I am planning my future to be in this state, because I am not. Not with the direction it is headed. That saddens me, but I suppose we all have to face reality.

While it has been against Indiana state law for some time now, the Indiana General Assembly feels the need to rub salt in our wounds and try to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage with HJR-6. It is crushing to see our elected representatives call us, our neighbors, our friends, and our families immoral and corrupt. Plus, it isn’t just marriage they are after. They want to block us from ever having civil unions or domestic partnerships. They feel any form of recognition for same sex relationships is too much to handle. It is crushing to see this happen. It makes me worry about my state. It makes me worry about its future. I have known I was Gay for a long time. I have been a committed relationship for two and a half years. But the Indiana State Legislature has decided that is wrong. They have decided that who I love is wrong, and that everybody should know it.

What is worse is myself and my LGBTQ friends and family are not alone. The Indiana State Legislature is on the attack. I have friends who were born in the United States, legally became citizens, are legal resident aliens, or even who are undocumented immigrants who fear for their safety because of the passage of HB 1402 and SB 590. One of my friends at Purdue from Columbia is worried that she will be subject to frequent police stops if this passes. I have friends who worry they won’t be able to get an education because of this law. I worry about my friends. I want them to have a good life. I want them to have opportunities, and I don’t want them to live in fear. Purdue is a major international university. How will it be able to attract the best and brightest if those from other countries are afraid of our laws?

I also worry about my teachers. How will they fare under all of this? Haven’t schools already given enough? How much more abuse can our educational system take? What will this mean to future Hoosiers? How will they compete in a globalizing society?

I worry about my friends who work. I have friends who work hard, long hours and depend on Union protections. How will they fair with the Indiana legislature?

I worry about many of my female friends. I have a number that depend on Planned Parenthood for their contraceptives. I have many friends who have taken advantage of Planned Parenthood’s STD Testing. What will happen to them? What will happen to the STD rate, and their treatments? I have even taken advantage of Planned Parenthood’s free HIV testing. The service was important to me. What will happen to these services if Republican control of Indiana’s legislature continues?

If we think of all of these issues as separate, we are fooling ourselves. The same people that seek to ban same-sex unions are also seeking to defund Planned Parenthood and their vital services such as STD and HIV testing. The same people seeking to pass a papers-please law are seeking to end the rights of workers to unionize. And these are the same people that are going after our schools. We can’t allow this to continue.

We have to put our hope into the Democratic process, and to do that we have to inform ourselves. We have to organize. We have to get people registered to vote, we have to let people know what the legislature is doing, and we have to vote. We can’t sit and wait for change. We have to be the change.

I am Nicholas Goldsmith, and I will vote against those who vote against me, my friends, and my family.

05 May 2011

Queer at Purdue: Student Organization Fliers

Event posters are an important way for student organizations to get their name out. Unfortunately, the Queer Student Union and its sibling organizations have an almost constant battle to keep up fliers. QSU spends far more money than it should on posters just because of the need to frequently reflier those that are removed.

While I understand that it is easy for organizations to accidently cover up others fliers, there have been cases in the past when certain organizations were targeted. One of these stories was compiled by a Jen McCreight, who noticed that the Queer Student Union, Society of Non-Theist, and Delta Pi Rho fliers were being placed in certain configurations. You can read more of that on her blog at http://www.blaghag.com/2009/08/more-school-drama-flyers.html

The QSU president before me, Jessica Lee, often told a story of a flier she had seen that had been through quite a bit. After it had been posted, the flier was removed, torn in half, and left on the ground. This story luckily has a somewhat hopeful ending, with somebody picking up the two halves of the flier, taping them together, and reposting it.

Whenever QSU has complained about the difficulty of keeping our fliers posted, we have been told nothing can be done unless we catch somebody. This is especially frustrating when entire buildings are sometimes stripped of our fliers. It can also be quite clear when our fliers are selectively removed. We often joined forces to flier with Delta Lambda Phi, Gamma Rho Lambda, Ally Association, and NOGLSTP. It was quite clear when the QSU and NOGLSTP fliers (that boldly have an LGBTQ message) are missing while the DLP and GRL fliers remain (which often have a much more hidden reference to sexual orientation and gender identity in the fine print). Once, NOGLSTP even caught a janitor removing Queer Student Union, NOGLSTP, and Society of Non-Theist fliers claiming they contained objectionable material (merely because they included Gay messages and Atheist messages respectively). NOGLSTP did report this incident.

The removal of fliers has required the LGBTQ organizations (and Society of Non-Theists!) to devote extra time and money to advertisement. I hope one day these advertisements will not be so quickly removed, and that QSU can devote some of that wasted time and money to the events themselves.

02 May 2011

Queer at Purdue Update

For those of you who are interested, I have visited the Office of Institutional Equity about the College of Agriculture awards issue (due in part to the number of you who contacted me). While I am not choosing to report at this time, it is now on record with the university.

I also wanted to make a note here. While I have told many students how to report, and encouraged people to do what I just did which was to talk to the Office of Institutional Equity even if you don't choose to report, I had not done it until today. I was even being somewhat hypocritical as I had not talked about a situation I had felt. I have now gone to the office and talked even though I have not reported. I now feel it even more important to urge people to go talk to the Office of Institutional Equity. It is not difficult, and took me about a half an hour. The person I talked to was really nice, and she merely asked questions. It is not difficult, and once you start it is no longer intimidating. You can find more information on the Office of Institutional Equity at: http://www.purdue.edu/ethics/oie/

I also have to add that it is really cool to see the new Nondiscrimination and Antiharrassment policies laid out in front of you in an official capacity. I was given a booklet and several print-outs because they haven't been able to print the new booklets yet. The Nondiscrimination Policy was such a huge change here, and I am glad I could be a part of it.

28 April 2011

Director of LGBTQ Affairs

At Lavender Graduation it was announced that the search for Purdue's first Director of LGBTQ Affairs will begin this summer. It has taken a lot of work to get to this point, and I am excited to see things moving forward.

With that being said, our work still continues. We must continue to collect stories. We must continue to push for changes on campus. We still know the issues, and the Director has not been filled yet (and even once they are the students still play some role in activism). I also urge you not to think this thing is done. Purdue Student Government and Purdue Graduate Student Government both passed the Nondiscrimination Policy resolution unanimously, and it still took another unanimous passage, PSG invoking their policy proposing power, and several months to be achieved. I vote we celebrate and hold them to this.

For those of you who were around the last time we were close to a director, know that it is much more realistic this time than before. The accreditation report effectively said we need to hire one, and the students have built up a huge case for it. Dr. Exum has also joined Purdue, and she was part of the reason why the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill has theirs. Yet I also understand your skepticism, and will be joining you in a percentage of that until the position is filled and the person is on campus (btw, if the future director is reading this, schedule a meeting with me, please).

My advise is to celebrate this victory now. Then keep the work up. Confirm every step of the way that things are moving forward. Email them regularly until the job is posted and filled. I have great respect and trust for the people responsible for making this happen, but this is so hugely important to the lives of so many students that we have to keep track and make sure things move forward. I know I will on my own, and I hope QSU, NOGLSTP, and others will do so as well.

Queer at Purdue: Potential Students

Support staff is not just for supporting students who are here, but also for prospective students. While I was Queer Student Union president I received a good number of emails from prospective students. One I remember involved a transgender student. They were going to the length of contacting every Big Ten university to see which would be the most supportive of them. Unfortunately that was at the beginning of this year before Purdue or West Lafayette included gender identity and gender expression in their nondiscrimination policies. They also were already somewhat dismayed that we did not have an LGBTQ center that they could contact, and thus had had to resort to contacting a student organization. Another student I remember was potentially coming from abroad, and wanting to know how Gay men were treated on campus and by the campus community. Not only were they potentially going to a new country, but they had no idea how their sexual orientation would be treated. Neither of these questions are uncommon to receive. I remember before I came to Purdue my high school councilor and I called the university and ended up getting forwarded to the Queer Student Union (due to lack of administrative knowledge) to talk about potential issues facing Gay people in the dorms. I, as an undergraduate, was even contacted by graduate students and postdocs wondering about the campus climate. I can also remember times when the Queer Resource Center has been visited by parents, wondering what it will be like for their children to attend Purdue (not to mention all of the questions when QSU is present at diversity-related events for prospective students).

I find it really odd that students have to offer this informational service. While I understand a student may want to contact other students to find out how the campus really is, when it comes to questions of policy, isn’t that where there should be support staff? Unfortunately, students can’t consistently offer information like this, and many may be unprepared and uninformed on the details a specific individual wants. Plus, with the turn-over rate of students, by time we know the university well enough to really talk to the climate or enforcement of policies, we are gone. Besides, while students will serve this role, shouldn't the university have an interest in distributing this type of information? Especially if it is linked in some way to recruitment (an area Purdue has recently come under fire for with how it is choosing to spend its advertising money).

26 April 2011

Queer at Purdue: AIDS Shout from Meredith

One thing I feel across the board people talk about at Purdue is getting yelled at from cars. If you are on Chauncey at night, regardless of who you are, it is going to happen. Even walking along State Street at night can often be like that. Getting yelled at from a car in the middle of the day is not nearly as common, as I think yet again most anybody would report. Being yelled at from dorm windows is even less common, and I have only experienced that once. Thus, I felt that would be appropriate for the second story I post about being Queer at Purdue.

Nathan and I were walking by Meredith holding hands. We frequently get yelled at when holding hands (I think we counted 11 times in less than two weeks and then we stopped keeping track). Most of them don’t really stick out in my head, but this one does. The people yelled from the window, “Have you got AIDS yet?”

If you have stories or anecdotes about being Queer at Purdue, consider passing them on. We can talk about a reasonable confidentiality in them. I will be collecting them, and I am pretty sure the Queer Student Union is starting to compile them. These stories are an important next step in moving forward on LGBTQ issues at Purdue.

24 April 2011

Queer at Purdue: College of Agriculture Awards

It is important in moving forward to begin collecting stories. It is important for people to see what it is like to be Queer at Purdue. The numbers speak volumes about why a staff member is needed, but they alone have proven not to be enough. What we need now are our voices. Stories on every topic, ranging from students being forced out of bathrooms to students asking about relatively common bits of information that Purdue just doesn’t have. I will start to collect these, as I am sure my successors in the Queer Student Union will as well.

So I have decided to start this process off, at least for me. I decided I would start with something I have personally been trying to figure out how it should be handled. I am of course one of the students who should be the most knowledgeable on how to handle something like this, yet I am not really sure (I am not sure what I am personally willing to do. That is the problem with issues like this, is we almost feel limited in what we do about it just because we already feel wronged this far). So I have decided to record this in this way.

For each of the past three years I have been my department’s outstanding student for my year. The first two years I went to the College of Agriculture Awards Ceremony. For everybody, they call your name and read through a short bio. This includes people’s involvement and other information. Yet both times I went, my involvement was cut short. All of my Queer involvement was conveniently left out. At first I just thought it was an accident. I mean I was only a first-year student, and was the secretary of QSU and had been on the LGBTQ Advisory Board, but both of those things were new this semester. I had listed them on the form the department had me fill out though, so I knew people were aware of it though. So the second year I waited. After all, I was Vice President of the Queer Student Union and that was a pretty cool thing to be. I also had the LGBTQ Advisory Board to the Office of the Provost, and Ally Association (where I had even done a panel for the College of Agriculture’s AGR 201!). Yet again, it was left off. I was frustrated, but I didn’t really think to do anything about it.

That of course means this year came around. I got the invitation to go, and of course was glad that my department again nominated me. But this year I decided not to go to the awards ceremony. I was the president of the Queer Student Union, I had been involved in some huge changes on campus, and I decided it wasn’t worth being insulted by having my involvement cut short again. I told people I was busy and couldn’t go, which was a lie (sorry to those of you finding that out now, but I hope you understand). I was just sick and tired of being insulted. It is sad that my lab, my department, the university, and Mortar Board can acknowledge that I have been involved in [successful] Queer activism, but my college can’t mention it when listing my involvement. I would love to find out it was all a mistake, that it was just an accident. Two (likely three) years in a row though, I am afraid I can’t feel that way.

I am also not the only one who has felt this. I now know of another student, involved in one of QSU’s sibling organizations, who is also having his Queer involvement left out of his bio. Why is it that the College of Agriculture refuses to acknowledge this involvement? Especially with the sheer number of students they list off with Cru and XA (those in the Queer community will understand why this is significant, if you don’t just email me and I will explain).

I am sure I should have said something. I know I could have gone and just talked to the Office of Institutional Equity, yet I have not. I don’t even know if they discussed it this year as I did not go (though I have a feeling they did not as a Queer organization was left off of one of my friend’s bios, but he left before the Outstanding Juniors were announced). If that person wanted to push things, then I would definitely step forth. For now, however, I will just start off the Queer at Purdue story telling with this story.

22 April 2011

Purdue Diversity Assessment

Purdue's Diversity assessment was just brought to my attention (http://www.purdue.edu/ethics/contribute_pdf_docs/2007_diversity_assessment_000.pdf and bolding is my emphasis). Honestly, I am surprised nobody brought this to my attention earlier, but I guess that was because it would have been useful in pushing for a change. People might be surprised that people, on a survey, actually exposed what they might be uncomfortable with! Here are some reasons why I say that:

Staff reported being very comfortable interacting with individuals from the eight different groups (more than 94% rated agreement or strong agreement that they were comfortable), with one exception. Although still very high in absolute terms, comfort levels were lower for interacting with someone different in sexual orientation. Given the number of respondents describing themselves as heterosexual in this sample (90.5%), this finding likely indicates less comfort interacting with GLBT individuals, regardless of whether they are a co-worker (87.1%) or one’s supervisor (84.7%)." (Diversity)

13-15% of staff surveyed would be uncomfortable with people who are GLBT? Really?! I think that alone should be a prime example of why we need better administrative support and reporting procedures. But wait, there is more!

Faculty members reported being very comfortable interacting with individuals from the eight different groups (percentages of agreement all in the upper 90s), with one exception. Comfort levels were lower for interacting with someone different in sexual orientation. As with staff, the high number of self-identified heterosexuals in the sample (95.5%) probably indicates respondents were less comfortable interacting with GLBT individuals, regardless of whether they are a co-worker (89.9%) or supervisor (88.2%). Still, these percentages remained high, in absolute terms." (Diversity)

10-12% of faculty surveyed would be less comfortable working with people based on their sexual orientation! One more category to go:

Students also described themselves as very comfortable interacting with individuals from the eight different groups (percentages of agreement all around 90%) with two exceptions. First, the percentage of students agreeing that they feel comfortable was lower for sexual orientation. Given the number of students who identified themselves as heterosexual in this sample (96.3%), this finding likely shows less comfort interacting with GLBT individuals, whether as a classmate (78.8%) or as an instructor (77.7%). Second, the percentage of students agreeing that they feel comfortable is lower for disability status. Given the number of students in this sample describing themselves as having no disabilities (97.3%), lower rates of comfort probably reflects somewhat fewer respondents being comfortable interacting with people with disabilities as a classmate (88%) or as an instructor (87.7%)." (Diversity)

That is like 22-23% being uncomfortable! That is over 1/5th of the student population based on these numbers. To make matters worse, LGBTQ individuals aren't to only ones. People with disabilities are also looking at 12-13% of the students who are uncomfortable working with them!

What is worse is I am kind of going easy with you on these numbers. They get worse. Go to the section about harassment and discrimination. Only 66.6% of staff say they have NOT experienced discrimination, and only 54.5% say they have NOT witnessed harassment! Faculty report worse numbers yet with only 57.1% NOT experiencing harassment. Only 40.5% of students are NOT concerned with being discriminated against. So wait, Almost 60% of our students are worried they may be discriminated against?! That is clearly a huge problem! I realize there are a number of categories here, but that doesn't sound good for saying we have an inclusive environment!

To sum it all up for this report, let's jump to the key findings, where we can find that, "Moreover, approximately one-half of the students report witnessing discrimination or harassment largely on the basis of race/ethnicity and sexual orientation" (Diversity). Clearly there is a problem on campus.

The question, then, is whether or not anybody with a voice notices. If nobody calls Purdue out on it, it is clear they won't do anything. But wait! People have. Not just Joe Shmoe either, but the Accreditation Report mentions the problem (http://www.purdue.edu/accreditation/PDF_Files/PurdReportMay062010.pdf and bolding is my emphasis)! Let's just look the section entitled "Aspects of Diversity":

"Purdue University should continue to make concerted efforts to advance a diverse and inclusive learning environment by integrating cultural competencies into the core curriculum and other learning opportunities across the institution; providing support for centers and other resources for underrepresented racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, gender and sexual orientation groups; partnering with community leaders to create an inclusive climate for diverse faculty and staff; tracking the progress of diverse students; and establishing or strengthening pipelines from various regional communities to the campus.
Attention to Lesbian, Gay Bisexual,Transgender (LGBT) issues were not well represented in the self study nor in conversations team members had on campus. When asked, campus representatives acknowledged the lack of organized and visible support for the LGBT community. A fully inclusive university would embrace the LGBT community and enhance the lives of all of its constituents.
Finally, as the nation experiences rapid growth among Latinos and retirements by the Baby Boomers, the economy will face major labor market changes. Latinos are projected to increase from 15% of the population to 30% and Latino youth are projected to surpass the number of White youth by mid-century. As the same time, they are one of the most marginalized and undereducated population segments in the nation. Taken together, these shifts present a major challenge for the nation, and Purdue University, like other institutions must begin to consider its role in addressing this challenge. In the current context, Purdue has to continue to embrace the important role that a public research university of this stature has in advancing educational opportunity and equity for all students." (Accredited)

Oh look, the people responsible for Purdue's accreditation notes it doing very poorly with LGBTQ issues. Purdue, we got a lot of work done this year. We got gender identity and gender expression added to the Nondiscrimination Policy. We got single-use bathrooms on academic campus updated. We got your survey's fixed. We moved you closer to online discrimination and harassment reporting (hopefully that can also get numbers on non-persecutory offenses like yelling from cars). We got the first university recognized National Coming Out Day celebration and will soon have the second Lavender Graduation. A foundation has even been laid for a strong safe zone program. But let's jump to the chase. Can you just do us all a favor (that includes yourself, Purdue) and finally hire a Director of LGBTQ Affairs? Somebody who can focus on these issues so the students don't have to keep doing it. Vice President Exum wants to make it happen, at least the last zillion times I have talked to her. Give her the power to do it. Please. For all our sake? If you want numbers, if you want an important group saying we need it, you have it. If you will keep being stubborn the students are going to keep moving on you. We might have high turnover but we are picking up steam and have fixed some continuity issues. The advice from IU is that you need stories. If stories are what you need, we will deliver.