University bolsters support for Salve’s LGBTQ+ community: Amanda Self is appointed to coordinate new initiatives
Amanda Self, assistant director at the Center for Student Development, will coordinate University efforts to better serve its LGBTQ+ community through the establishment of new support initiatives, chief among them to address their call for a dedicated space on campus. Self was asked to serve as point person for this work in support of the efforts of the Presidential Commission for Equity and Inclusion.
With her new responsibilities, Self will gather input directly from the Salve Regina community through a series of focus groups, which are listed below. She will research what other institutions of higher education are doing on behalf of LGBTQ+ students as she develops campus proposals – both immediate and long-term – to elevate awareness and support for a long underserved community.
Self was appointed to conduct this important work by J. Malcolm Smith, vice president for student affairs, because of her passion and experience in working with LGBTQ+ students.
“I was honestly pretty honored to be asked to lead this initiative for Salve and am excited that I get to play such a large role with something this important,” Self said. “I see this as a huge responsibility. While supporting LGBTQ+ students is something I have experience with and really enjoy doing, I want to make sure that it is done right for Salve students of all intersectional identities.”
Self said whenever she has conversations with students about what they want to see on campus, it always comes back to having a dedicated space. “Students hear about the resources their friends have on other college campuses and wish that they had something like that here,” she said. “They want a space to gather with people like them, to engage in conversation, to celebrate their identities and to have access to resources specific to their experiences.”
Establishing such a safe space on campus is “invaluable and necessary to the well-being of our LGBTQ+ and questioning students,” said members of Salve’s Alliance E-Board. Alliance is the official student organization on campus – open to all students – that promotes education, awareness, support and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The safe space in particular will allow LGBTQ+ students to connect, grow and learn from their peers,” wrote executive board members Jadyn Scully ’21, Kathleen Joyce ’22, Alyssa Cuomo-Perriello ’22 and Jasper Khambaylarsirikul ’21. “With a place to be fully oneself without judgment, we can lift each other up and connect people with the resources they want and need.”
Senior social work majors Hannah Cedrone ’21 and Rachel Beilgard ’21 are enrolled in a capstone course that has identified LGBTQ+ services as something that is missing on Salve Regina’s campus. They shared a conclusion reached by classmates:
“Having this space on the Salve campus will provide two things. One, a space to educate allies who support individuals in the LBGTQ+ community, specifically on our college campus. And two, create a safe space for individuals of the LBGTQ+ community to go where they know they will be loved, accepted and supported. Unlike more visibly under-represented groups, it is difficult for individuals of the LBGTQ+ community to know who to trust and where they know is a safe space. Other than the Alliance Club, there isn’t a concrete place or an easy method for LBGTQ+ persons to find other people who will support them on the Salve campus.”
Beilgard said that for many students, herself included, college is a time for truly finding out who we are as individuals. “We form relationships with peers with whom we can put all our trust,” she said. “LBGTQ+ students need a place on campus where they can form these relationships and know that others in this space will help them to feel safe, accepted and seen.”
It’s the kind of recognition and support that Alliance members have been fighting for, both on campus and in the Newport community, for years.
“We represent an underprivileged and underrepresented group of individuals, far more at risk than the average person for mental health issues, harassment, discrimination and homelessness,” the executive board members wrote. “In a world where being different is a crime in over 70 countries, a firm foundation built at these pivotal years of our lives is essential, making an LGBTQ+ support program a must for every 21st-century school. The steps that Salve is currently taking are vital and will allow LGBTQ+ students to feel far more accepted for who they are.”
Upcoming LGBTQ+ Focus Groups
To participate in one of the following open focus groups, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Undergraduate students: Tuesday, March 16, 1-2:30 p.m.
- Graduate students: Thursday, March 18, 4-5:30 p.m.
- Faculty and staff: Friday, March 19, 2-3:30 p.m.
- Alumni: Monday, March 29, 6-7:30 p.m