(Photo credit/source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/06/18/lgbtq-inequality-and-vulnerability-pandemic)
-By Pablo Lopez-
Passaic County Community College is a diverse institution where people of different cultures, nationalities and religions come together from all-around Paterson, Passaic, Clifton, Wanaque, Wayne, Little Falls, Totowa and many more cities, to sit down and get a quality education.
The LGBTQ+ Allies creates an environment for those who are part of that universal community for the students attending PCCC. Through their mission statement of “providing inclusion for students through support, social action and advocacy.” But there is an issue that has arose as of recent. There is a lack of members.
The club host social events including talent shows that happen around the fall semester. They do slam poetry, acting, improv-standup comedy and perform music all by students attending PCCC. Pride Prom, which is to celebrate the ending of the Spring semester for students who have studied themselves sore and need a nice social gathering to get them into a more positive environment.
They start bake sales that would often take place inside of the college on their free time to help fund events such as Transgender Remembrance Day. For those who have taken their lives because of their insecurities and lack of support from family, or even themselves.
Without members, who will attend? The club is facing the hardship of finding team leaders that can help support weekly meetings and events. Especially due to COVID-19, the club was forced to switch to zoom meetings and cancelling of those events. The support for those within the LGBTQ+ community were challenged and the relationships and connections of the Allies, weakened due to CDC guidelines and restrictions. Talent shows, Pride Proms and bake sales put on the back burner.
Dr. Kate Thurman, a sociologist professor the Chief Advisor of the club, Maria Marte, an administrator at the college and the club who is part of the student government association are those in charge of providing information and setting up events and weekly meetings for the club. They state, “Everything was put online and put on pause.” As well as “It’s a matter of ‘if’ and ‘when’ as the college slowly turns into in-person as it was before.”
Rutgers University say they want 100% in-person classes for the Fall 2021 semester and require those attending students to be vaccinated; PCCC might follow that path. Dr. Thurman states “It would be helpful. Although it is up in the air still.” PCCC will state on the conditions and their plans for the upcoming semester within the next two weeks states Marte, an administrator herself.
But again, without students helping create events and have students join the Allies, nothing is sure. “Students learn leadership skills and build their group management abilities” states Tris, a supporting staff member. Exercising the core muscles, that is social skills to aid in their future for when students try to obtain high paying, quality jobs.
Students gain life experience, achieve goals set by themselves and help out a community in the middle of a limbo and in-need of support when they join the LGBTQ+ Allies. Especially for those who long for inclusion and acceptance