Every time when we knock on the door of an office on campus, a unique sticker might catch our eyes. Other than the notice of office hours, a paw-shaped and rainbow-colored sticker marks a safe zone on campus, a place where students are always welcome to speak out their concerns and seek solutions. Alex Watson, a sophomore student at Lander, is a transgender student. When he recalled his first experience entering the office with a “safe zone” sticker, he said: “That was a special experience and turned out to be very helpful although I had some concern before I did it.” With liberal policies at Lander, he got his information changed with the help from Student Conduct Office. Tracy Clifton, Director of Student Conduct and Interim Title IX Coordinator, mentioned that “We will take care of each Lander student in need to the best of our ability, and we will always try to put ourselves into their shoes.”
Paul Crutcher, the lecturer of Media and the manager of XLR Radio, said that when students came to him, he would always be happy to offer help because he believes that it is a new normal that we need to learn and accept. Also, there is a program called Queerly Yours featuring LGBTQ news at XLR radio. Adam Thrasher, the student host of this program, said that he wanted to spread different voices from the LGBTQ community through this program. Furthermore, faculty offices are not the only place labeled with the safe zone. There is a club on campus named Spectrum that also plays an essential role in promoting the diversity on campus. Emilee Fuller and Hannah Leister, the President and Vice President of Spectrum, said their club is a gay-straight alliance, which means everyone who is interested in LGBTQ topics can join this club. Last year, they held a successful drag show, which attracted many students, faculty, and people from the Greenwood community. Next year in March, they are going to have another fabulous drag show.
In the Jackson Library, Rebekah Scoggins, the librarian who is in charge of the monthly reading collection, said that she is totally supportive of the LGBTQ community on campus. Meanwhile, she is devoted to providing many more LGBTQ resources for students to read. “Some students asked if we have access to Out magazine, and at that time we have limited resources to this field. However, we are always trying to meet their needs. Now, we have various resources for students to read and learn about LGBTQ culture.” Last month, she selected some great books in observance of LGBTQ history month. During her work, she said: “I was trying to find hot topics for this collection and hope students can feel more comfortable to read and talk about this area.”
In respect of building a diverse community on campus, Crystal Rookard, the Chair of Diversity Advisory Council said that diversity is a core value across the university. As a representative group, the Diversity Advisory Council promotes and supports diversity initiatives. As the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Boyd Yarbrough said that Lander is an open-minded campus and he always welcomes students to have a conversation with him. “Most importantly, we want students to be comfortable and confident to be themselves.”
The “safe zone” sticker is more than the symbol of support for the diverse community on campus. Behind the stage of safe zones, many people are sharing their efforts and love to contribute Lander to a more delightful campus. When it comes to the student conduct report, Director Clifton said: “The good news is that we have zero report of such case regarding student misconduct, and we are proud of our students.”