Members of the campus community gathered in the Harris C building to discuss what being an ally means, as well as how to get rid of the stigmas surrounding this word.
The Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) recently added another conversation to their “Spilling the Tea on Diversity” series this past Monday, March 12. The discussion was named “How to Be an Ally: Ally is a verb, not a noun.”
This discussion was hosted by first-year student ambassador Cole DiGrazia and third-year Community Advisor fourth-year student Rebecca Greiner. The two started by asking the students what they believed was the definition of an “ally.” Most of the responses were: a person who supports people of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, the word is more than that. An ally is someone who stands and fights for the equality of others who have been facing prejudice and discrimination. For most students, it is a word that has been seen as an item and not a form of action. Right after that introduction, poets watched a video about tips on being a successful ally towards others.
An interesting point that came up in the talk was about the word “privilege.” This word is typically given a negative connotation with regards to someone who did not struggle, but instead it can be someone who has the ability to use this as a platform and help those who do not have a voice. This tied into another topic — one should not just say the title “ally,” there has to be action in order to help the community become safe. Students and staff also shared some of their stories of how they were able to be helped or were allies to those who were in need.
The discussion soon concluded with some tips on being an active ally. Some of these tips included being and creating a safe space for people. Another tip that was very important was to educate ourselves and others about these communities, but to also accept that ally’s can’t know everything about the communities. The event also discussed that making mistakes allows a person to acknowledge what they did wrong and learn from that mistake. “This is a good stepping stone for students to become allies and learn how to become allies,” said Residential Life Director Andrea Valenzuela.
After the incident that happened on Saturday, March 20, it is important to take these few steps and act on behalf of our peers. In these hard times, it is important to be a support system for those whose voices are being repressed and underrepresented. If you or someone you know has faced a situation of harassment or discrimination, you may file a form on the Whittier College website under Student Life. For more information on how to be an ally or what the word means, visit the Office for Equity and Inclusion or go to the Human Rights Campaign website at www.hrc.org.