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.

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