By Jackson Hare, Campus News Editor
LGBTQ+ Alliance’s executive board will explore the opportunities their newly-granted UAO status may provide as they plan events and activities for Xavier’s LGBTQ+ population in the next fiscal year.
The Student Government Association (SGA) voted to approve the LGBTQ+ Alliance’s (Alliance) request to become a University Affiliated Organization (UAO) last Monday.
Being granted UAO status secures Alliance’s presence on campus, obligating the university to support the organization and prevent it from being disbanded. This also means the organization will be funded directly by the university rather than pulling from the student activity fee pool.
President of Alliance Leo Fowler was comforted by this decision, reflecting on the role Alliance has played in his own identity development.
“Alliance was the first space that I felt I could explore my identity. I grew up in a very religious household in a place where queerness was not allowed to be expressed at all. Coming to Xavier, and finding out that there was the LGBTQ+ Alliance, attending and meeting people there, gave me the courage to come out and be open about my identity,” Fowler said.
Alliance Vice President Mia Karlsson shared this sentiment, emphasizing the value Alliance has had in her coming out experience.
“Being able to go to a university where I don’t have to keep it covert and… just being able to experience other people who are maybe just now coming out or are significantly more open with their sexuality and gender has allowed me to figure myself out,” Karlsson said.
“I hope us now being a UAO is something that more students who are in this situation get to experience,” she added, citing reassurance that the organization’s new status will ensure Alliance continues to be a resource for students on campus.
Fowler added that this decision affirms the space LGBTQ+ students have on Xavier’s campus.
“We believe that it’s important to have (Alliance) as a staple of the university because queer students are a staple of the university,” he said.
Additionally, Karlsson asserts that Alliance also includes non-LGBTQ+ students.
“Our goal is not just to be a safe space for queer students, but a safe space for all students to learn, grow, make friends and kind of get a sense of community,” she said.
The vote to approve Alliance’s UAO status was uncontested with no votes against this approval, according to SGA senator Maria Fulhorst. There were a number of senators who abstained from voting.
“I wasn’t expecting some people to abstain, but that was like the first time I ever encountered that… I’ve only been on (SGA) a year, but I’m sure in the past people made it on certain things for various reasons. But this was the one time I officially saw it,” Fulhorst said.
She further explained that during the discussion and debate prior to the vote, one senator expressed concern about the implications of granting Alliance this status.
Fulhurst speculated on the potential reason for senators’ abstention from voting.
“I can’t speak for everyone. But I think the whole purpose was like… We think about Xavier as a whole and not just like the student body, but also the people that fund this institution… I think in a business type of world, some people are more inclined to say this may not align with the university values,” she said.
SGA senator Jake Galvan added that the abstentions may be related to inexperience among the senate.
“Most of those abstains were from newer members who had never gone through the process before and they weren’t there for the Alliance presentation. Or, there are those who really didn’t have any familiarity at all with the UAO process,” Galvan said.
Karlsson argued that concerns about university values are not reason enough to contest Alliance’s UAO status, adding that Alliance’s mission shares aspects of the Jesuit values.
“I think it’s inherently harmful to say that a Jesuit Catholic institution is not aligned with LGBTQ+ students. I think that the Jesuit values of solidarity and kinship — walking alongside others — Alliance becoming a UAO also gives students who aren’t a part of the LGBTQ+ community an opportunity to do that,” she said.