The Cape Fear region universities are seeking to make their campuses more inclusive, creating an environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students that make them feel more included in the existing college community.
The Safe Zone program was implemented by both Fayetteville State University and Methodist University. This national program that makes the students more aware about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campus population, educating them on issue that rise against the LGBT community.
As a result of high demands through their climate survey in the spring, FSU is set to open a Safe Zone office in the Student Affairs department in August.
“Our motto at Fayetteville State is ‘Deeds not words’,” said Emily Lenning. She is an assistant professor presently overseeing the Safe Zone training at FSU. “I think the overall sentiment on campus is that we are a community that celebrates diversity and demands inclusivity. But prior to the past year or so, our actions didn’t match those words or our values.
In April, they included the creating sensitivity training, the establishment of a student group, and additional activities for LGBT students and the establishment of a LGBT office in order to address the needs of creating a welcoming campus for them. “So, these programs are our way to putting our value of inclusivity into action,” Lenning said. “Anytime you can create a more open environment for people, your community benefits.”
FSU is one of the first groups of colleges to incorporate this office for LGBT students, making it the second historically black college and university in the state to do so. In April, North Carolina Central University decided to join the movement as well by opening one of its own.
A visible symbol will be placed on all the doors of the faculty and staff members that have successfully completed the Safe Zone training . This is a way of expressing their support and commitment to fighting the homophobia and hertersexism at FSU, once again, creating an outlet for the LGBT students.
“We are here to be supportive and make sure they complete their education and feel that they are included and matter on this campus,” said Latosha Williams, a career counselor who also plays a role in assisting the training at FSU.
They went as far as training the hall staff and students, the activity board members and student government representatives, including the FSU on campus police. “The training could be expanded to the FSU Board of Trustees,” said the vice chancellor at student affairs, Janice Haynie.“I think it would be wonderful if the board had some training because they would help drive it,” she said. “…We are hoping to try to institutionalize it so that it is a part of the culture at FSU.”