LUP: Slowly but surely pushing for more LGBT+ support on campus

Art+by+Annemarie+Mullet+

Art by Annemarie Mullet

Anne Walkup, Staff Writer

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Linfield United and Pride, a LGBT+ club is working hard to bring equality and acceptance to the Linfield campus. Having to connect solely through Zoom seems like it would put a damper on club meetings and engagement, but Linfield’s LGBT+ student union is making the best of the strange circumstances this semester.

The club recently changed its name from “Fusion” to “LUP,” which stands for “Linfield University Pride” or “Linfield United and Pride.” 

LUP President Beatrice DeGraw, ’22, said that over the past year or so, LUP members have been working hard to bring significant changes to campus. “The hope is to bring greater awareness across campus to LGBT+ students and issues that they can and do face,” said DeGraw. “Even on a seemingly very progressive or very liberal campuses, there’s still going to be a lot of barriers and roadblocks.” 

DeGraw joined LUP at the beginning of her freshman year, first hearing about the club at the activities fair during orientation weekend. “I saw there was an LGBT+ student club, I thought it sounded really cool,” DeGraw said. “ I didn’t really have anything like that to be a part of at my high school, and so I was like, ‘I want to get involved.’”

LUP’s Vice President Zack Robie, ’23, also joined as a freshman. “When I was in high school, I was the president of my school’s GSA [gay-straight alliance] for two years, and so I knew I wanted to keep being a member of one in college,” Robie said. “I went ahead and attended all the meetings  and at the end of my freshman year, they offered me the position of vice president.”

LUP is currently holding all its meetings over Zoom to ensure comfort and safety. Currently, the club has about 10 members who attend regularly, but occasionally additional members attend as well. “We talk about everything, and we’ve been talking a lot in the last few years because of the political climate,” Robie said. 

Involvement is flexible, and weekly attendance is not required. DeGraw said this is nice for people who are feeling particularly burnt out on Zoomt. “It’s hard to sit in front of a screen all day and then be like, ‘Do I really want to go to this meeting over Zoom again?’,” she said. “That’s why we try to have different events and fun meetings so we can try and reach more people.”  

Robie added that the last thing LUP wants to do is add more stress to its members’ already busy lives. Even so, DeGraw said meeting engagement has actually been higher this semester due to the convenience of virtual meetings. 

Events, on the other hand, are not what they once were. In the past, LUP has hosted a Pride Week in April, as well as other in-person events. However, with the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, the club is waiting to see what next semester will bring before deciding what they will do.  

Recently, LUP has been working to update the information and resources available to LGBT+ students, such as knowing where to locate gender-inclusive or gender-neutral bathrooms. DeGraw explained that this can be tricky because “there’s a weird legal technicality between the two terms. We wanted to make a set list—like ok, [these bathrooms] are in these buildings on these floors, here is a comprehensive list,” she said.

Although LUP feels the LGBT+ community is supported at Linfield, DeGraw said there is room for improvement. She described Linfield as being “accepting” of them but not necessarily “celebrating” them. “We’ve gotten some support from Jeff Mackay, the dean, but we haven’t ever heard anything from the president or anyone else [in upper administration],” she said.

However, not all members have felt entirely accepted. “I’ve heard from multiple individuals that some professors won’t respect people’s pronouns or their correct names if it doesn’t match what’s on the transcript…just microaggressions and small things like that that just kind of keep adding up,” said DeGraw. 

LUP is working towards helping Linfield “tip the scale” toward being more on the welcoming side by hosting educational events. Club members are also asked somewhat regularly to speak at meetings and classes about pronouns and other aspects of being a part of the LGBT+ community. 

According to Robie, LUP members have been focusing a lot of their energy into creating an LGBT+ resource center. “A lot of other schools either have Queer resource centers or centers for gender equity, so we want to make something similar. We’re just having trouble finding a building,” Robie said. “We’re still drumming up as much support as we can for the project, so we’re hoping that that’ll sort of gently nudge administration into realizing that more than just the openly gay kids on campus want the center.”

The hope is that this center will be able to provide the condoms, lubricants, and LGBT+ related information that the Health Center provides, as well as more up-to-date information and resources to help with name change processes. It would additionally act as a help center for people looking to report a bias incident or something similar.

For students interested in joining LUP but unsure of how to get involved, both DeGraw and Robie urged students to refer to LUP’s social media pages, Instagram in particular. Regular postings about meetings, Zoom information and events can be found there.

Those attending who would prefer to remain anonymous are welcome to leave their camera off or change their name for the meeting. “We don’t release the names of any of our members because we don’t want to out anyone if they aren’t out on campus or comfortable with that,” said DeGraw. 

“We try to make it feel like a very safe space and very welcoming,” DeGraw said. “We want to keep it LGBT+-focused, but everyone is welcome.”