From the desk of William Stackman, Vice Provost for Student Affairs
June is LGBTQ Pride Month, with this year marking the 50th Anniversary of LGBT Pride events and traditions. I celebrate Pride Month 2020 and people of all genders and sexual orientations and the strides they have made in history. I especially celebrate all of the Mizzou Tigers and their identities.
Throughout our university, you can see the great work being done by our students to promote inclusion for LGBTQ students. Mizzou has more than 600 student organizations, many of which relate to sexuality and gender identities and issues.
Here in Student Affairs, the student-led Greek Allies program works to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer members in the Greek community. Greek Allies is a recognized program within the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. During the 2019-2020 academic year, more than 375 students participated or attended Greek Allies events.
“Greek Allies hosts a range of events to educate and engage the Greek community at Mizzou,” said Molly Wooster, sophomore from Lee’s Summit, member of Kappa Alpha Theta and Greek Allies president.
“Each fall we have a panel discussion with LGBTQ+ members from different councils where students can ask questions and learn more about the queer experience within Greek life,” Wooster said. “We also host Safe Space trainings throughout the year, and we were planning to bring a speaker to campus during the spring semester. Additionally, we host community-building activities like movie nights.”
I asked Greek Allies student leaders for their advice for students to find success at Mizzou and here is what they had to say.
“I would advise any new students to expand their understanding of FSL and not rely on any pre-conceived notions they might have,” said Cole Stringer, sophomore from Cassville and member of Delta Chi. “I came into Mizzou nervous about not being able to come out to my fraternity brothers, but was welcomed with only open arms and support that I never would have expected from Greek Life.”
“Walk around with pride in yourself and in your sexuality,” said Dayton Bloemer, sophomore from Moscow Mills and member of Sigma Tau Gamma. “At the end of the day, the only person that you truly need support from … is yourself!”
“Find ways to create inclusive spaces for yourself instead of trying to fit the mold others require,” said Elizabeth Vasko, sophomore from Jefferson City and member of Kappa Alpha Theta.
“Be yourself and do not stay in a space where you are not celebrated,” said Li Zhang, senior from Columbia and member of Kappa Pi Beta.
During the 2019 Lavender Graduation, a tradition at Mizzou which celebrates the accomplishments of LGBTQ graduates as they finish their time at the University of Missouri, recent graduate and Student Affairs graduate assistant Huong Truong recognized how the Greek Allies program works to make fraternities and sororities more inclusive.
“To my past and current Greek Allies students, thank you for being brave in a space that was not built for us and our identities,” Truong said. “Thank you for challenging that narrative every day and making Greek life more inclusive. You all have taught me patience and resilience and how to make the most of what is given and demand change for what is not just. I am lucky to have been able to advise you for two years and am excited to see all you will do in the future.”
Students who want to get involved can learn more at MU Engage or can email Molly Wooster, the Greek Allies president, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Greek Allies are also on social media @MUGreekAllies on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I also encourage students to visit the LGBTQ Resource Center, which provides resources, programs and support for queer and transgender students. Serving as a campus and community resource, they accomplish their mission through the development of healthy communities, strategic partnerships, and leadership and identity development within a culture of celebration and inclusion.