LGBTQ+ HISTORY MONTH
Friday October 25, 2019 • Volume 103, Issue Number 3 • An Independent, Student-Run Newspaper
IN THIS ISSUE:
A-3 MEET THE PRIDE/WOMEN'S CENTER DIRECTOR B-2 LGBTQ+ VOICES C-2 KICKING INTO HISTORY D-3 VIGIL OPENS PRIDE WEEK COVER DESIGN: KEEGAN BEARD
Watch WSRU-TV's livestream of the chancellor's open forum
History in transition
Fight for trans-inclusive policies next step in SRU's LGBTQ+ history By Hannah Shumsky Editor-in-Chief
Within the past 70 years of SRU's history, student groups, faculty and administrators have implemented policies and advocacy events and groups to support LGBTQ+ students. However, this isn't to say that these policies are perfect. For one transgender student at SRU, she is typically deadnamed by professors at least two or three times each syllabus week. This occurs when someone refers to a transgender person by using their name prior to transitioning, whether intentionally or not. According to this student, who is a junior political science major and transgender woman who preferred her name be withheld, the issue is that two administrative programs— Banner 8 and Banner 9— are running simultaneously. While Banner 9 can accept chosen names, Banner 8 will only show legal names. The deadnaming issue occurs most often when professors print their classlist from Banner instead of D2L. "They're always using deadnames if they're pulling from Banner," the student said. The issue isn't exclusive to SRU either; the student's girlfriend, who attends a technical college in Illinois, sees the same issue at her college with Banner 8. "The problem really lies not in the Slippery Rock policy, but
the fact that Banner doesn't seem to want to use it together to allow people to use preferred names," the student said. The chosen name policy at SRU was enacted in March 2018. While the policy states that a chosen name can be used on certain documents and systems, the Banner 8 issue is still resulting in deadnaming for transgender or non-binary students. The policy, however, is only one step in SRU's recent history on inclusivity on campus. From interest to activism So, if SRU's LGBTQ+ history is still changing today, where does it begin? William Bergmann, chair of the history department, sought to find an answer. And as it turns out, there was not much scholarship on gay rights movements at rural colleges to begin with. "Most historians, when they look at this, look at urban spaces for the gay rights movements in general, and usually universities fall in that," Bergmann said. Bergmann's research was originally a project for the President Commission on Gender Identity & Expression and Sexual Orientation (GIESO). Then, he wanted to investigate this topic as a research agenda to collect more information about rural colleges. "I was really curious about why or how students could become engaged in this activism in rural schools," Bergmann said. "Slippery Rock isn't that
far away from Pittsburgh, but it's pretty out there, and it's in a pretty socially conservative area." According to Bergmann, SRU's LGBTQ+ history starts in the 1960s and early 1970s with a series of panels on homosexuality. These seminars and panels were dispersed throughout that time period, and especially around the time of the Stonewall Riots in summer 1969. "[The panel] really speaks a lot to how gay activism was really visible within Pennsylvania, most of it in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh," Bergmann said. "Students are interested and concerned about it." In the mid-1970s, the gay rights movement spread across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and namely West Chester and the Gays of West Chester. This group was invested in bringing gay rights to the Commonwealth of the Association of Students, a lobbying group of students from PASSHE. This marks the switch from an interest in gay rights to activism, Bergmann notes. Later in the decade, Edinboro State College students posted an editorial in The Rocket in order to start a chapter of the Gay Information and Concern Team (GIACT) at Slippery Rock State College. SRU's chapter of the team formed in spring 1979. The energy of the '70s dwindles out during the 1980s,
GRAPHIC BY HANNAH SHUMSKY; INFORMATION COURTESY OF WILLIAM BERGMANN
and while gay groups were still active during this decade, they were not captured often in the limelight, including newspapers. The next resurgence of the gay rights movement came in the early 1990s in response to the AIDS crisis and "culture wars," or conservative responses to the liberalization of society at the time. "You have activism really taking root as students are responding to this, coming into this sort of political fold and really trying to advance interests on campus," Bergmann said. In spring 1991, the Alternative Lifestyle Union organizes on campus. This group reorganized in fall 1995 as Bisexuals, Gays,
Lesbians, Allies Disarming Discrimination (B-GLADD), which will eventually become RockOUT, which has a heavy on-campus presence today. In the 2000s, two events provided more support to LGBTQ+ students: the formation of GIESO by SRU President Robert Smith in spring 2006 and the grand opening of the first LGBTQ+ Resource Center in October 2007. "[The formation of the resource center and GIESO helped] cement a voice of gays and lesbians and others on campus because now they have institutional legitimacy in a way that before really the institution hadn't taken as firm of a stance on those issues."
Resurgence of the last decade Cindy LaCom joined the English department 26 years ago as a professor. Today, in their seven years of being director of the gender studies program, they have students who openly talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in a 100-level gender studies class. "To be in a class where students openly talk about being bisexual or gay or trans or pansexual is just wonderful," LaCom said. LaCom, who grew up on the west coast, recognizes that the rural community of Slippery Rock contrasts with their own upbringing.
SEE HISTORY PAGE A-4
Intersectionality at SRU
GIESO begins campaign to encourage inclusivity in social justice movements By Haley Potter Senior Rocket Contributor
S RU ’ S Pr e s i d e n t’s Commission for Gender Identity and Expression and Sexual Orientation, better known as GIESO, established a new campaign about intersectionality as part of LGBTQ+ history month. The hashtag for this campaign is “#IntersectionalitySRU” and can be seen on lawn signs in the quad and on GIESO’s social media accounts, @srugieso. Vanessa Vought, co-chair of GIESO, said that the lawn signs are highlighting the different intersections within the LGBTQ+ community. “We are recognizing that population isn’t homogenous and there is a variation and a lot of diversity inside the category alone,” Vought said. “There are different issues that come up at different intersections, hence the name ‘intersectionality.’” Emily Keener, a GIESO member, said that she likes to describe the intersections as a kaleidoscope. “Every time you turn a kaleidoscope, the image changes, so if you took
everything about you and changed one aspect of your identity, whether it is education, socioeconomic status, race, age or anything, that really changes your life,” Keener said. Vought said GIESO typically sponsors the Pride Banners on campus which are currently in place, but this year they added the intersectionality lawn signs. The signs include many popular slogans for other movements such as “All black LGBTQ+ lives matter” and “No LGBTQ+ human is illegal.” “We took these popular slogans and just added LGBTQ+ to them because it shows that within these movements there are also other types of oppression,” Vought said. She said that using these slogans shows their solidarity to these other movements as well. “We are trying to show that all oppression is connected and that we support your movement,” Vought said. She said that this is also a social media campaign that encourages different departments to use the hashtag to show where their group, population or
identity comes into play. “We had a post on Twitter from the President’s Commission on Disability on how they showed an intersection of disability and LGBTQ+ because that’s a completely different experience,” Vought said. Keener also shared the example that people from other countries may have been more or less accepted for their sexual orientation before coming to the United States. “That comes with another bag of problems or privileges and so does living in a rural versus urban area,” Keener said. Keener said working together solves a lot of intersectionality issues. “We don’t know how much power we have until we work together,” she said. “People work separately on environmental issues, women’s issues and LGBTQ+ issues, where the system of power that is causing oppression is the same across all of these groups.” On the other hand, Keener said that intersectionality movements can be difficult and messy. “You have to do it in a way where you aren’t pitting one
KEEGAN BEARD / THE ROCKET
GIESO created lawn signs promoting the social media campaign #IntersectionalitySRU. The campaign's purpose is to inform students, staff and faculty about the connection among all forms of oppression.
group against another,” she said. “One group’s problems can’t be more of a problem or priority.” She also said that some people are committed to one movement but not to another. An example she gave was that women of color are not always for the traditional feminist movement. “There are historical reasons why groups may not work together,” Keener said. “Activism is hard.”
Vought and Keener both said that they encourage students to participate in the campaign by using the hashtag, #IntersectionalitySRU. There is also a study that they encouraged all students to participate in. “There is a share study looking at relationships in health and wellness,” Keener said. “We need all types of relationships to be represented in the research, whether that is interracial,
same-sex, relationships with big age gaps or people who are not in relationships.” She said that in order for the research to be valid and meaningful to help the SRU community improve the climate and resources for different groups on campus, diverse communities need to actually participate. Students can be included in this research by finding it on GIESO’s social media. This study runs until the end of October.
October 25, 2019
The search is over
The Pride and Women's Center welcomes new assistant director By Haley Potter Senior Rocket Contributor
The SRU Pride and Women’s Center hired a new director to fill the vacancy, and they already have plans to make the campus more diverse and accepting. Dr. Lyosha Gorshkov is the new director for the center, and they said their plan is to extend the center. “I am getting to know the campus, and my plan is
"We are trying to reclaim our place in society." – Dr. Lyosha Gorskov, Assistant Director of Women's and Pride Center
to go knock on each door to talk to different people and let them know we are here because we need to extend a little bit,” they said. “Our ultimate goal is to bring more students and faculty to the center and provide them with services.” Gorshkov is from Russia but has been living in the states for five years. “SRU’s campus is very family and communitylike, which reminds me of my alma mater back home in Russia,” Gorshkov said. They also said that they love how friendly and passionate the people are here at SRU. Gorshkov is primarily a professor with a degree in Political Science and has been working on LGBTQ+ studies for fi fteen years. They also said they have launched a couple of international-organized projects such as Russian speaking pride. They said they most recently taught Russian-Queer politics at Indiana University. “I have been working over the last five years with under-represented communities and
some people who are marginalized to bring awareness on the federal level that we have some issues with the LGBTQ+ and female agenda,” Gorshkov said. Gorshkov also said they have been working on some new plans for campus. “I’d like to bring some more outside world to the campus,” they said. “I have some connections from other places such as activists, educators, and artists from the big world. I want to bring them for people to embrace the diversity and learn that diversity doesn’t bite.” Gorshkov said they know that some people are concerned about the existence of the Pride and Women’s Center, and their plan is to extend the center to show everyone how they operate. “We are not trying to change or break the attitudes of those individuals, but instead we want to embrace everyone,” Gorshkov said. They said we have people from all walks of
HALEY POTTER / WSRU-TV
After several months of interviews, open-session presentations and student luches, Dr. Lyosha Gorshkov is hired as the Women's and Pride Center's new assistant director.
life, some of which are under-represented. “We know there are gaps and prejudices against women, and there is still misrepresentation especially with the LGBTQ+ community, so we recognize that social order has changed, and we need to make sure everyone feels like part of the family,” Gorshkov said.
They said the mission of the center is not to suppress others, but instead to have dialogues and discussions to show that they aren’t trying to steal anything from anyone. “ We are tr ying to reclaim our place in society,” Gorshkov said. They said they want to educate people on how
to use pronouns and how to be more diverse and inclusive without sacrificing their own identity. “Look around and see people around you are d i f f e re n t ,” Go r s h k ov said. “We can’t be one. We have to embrace our differences in a positive way and that is my goal as the director of the center.”
Seeking identity and validation LGBTQ+ community more likely to experience mental health issues
By Allison Downs News Editor
By Nina Cipriani Assistant News Editor
“Something that I have learned about in my classes is that there is a toxic stress that comes with being part of any minority group,” Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) President Maggie Calvert said. “But, specifically for LGBTQ+ individuals, it could be constantly having to worry about what others think of you and your identity, questioning if your identity is valid, safety—especially for trans women of color.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), L G B TQ + individuals are more than twice as likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse compared to those who identify as straight or cisgender. This is in part due to the societal stigma and discrimination the LGBTQ+ community experiences on a regular basis. Dr. Kenneth Messina, director of the student counseling center, said these factors align with the findings of the minority stress model, which links the effects of discrimination, prejudice and stigma to psychological stress. He added that this stress can be worsened by lack of acceptance or marginalization within a heteronormative environment or culture. “When we factor in incidents of bullying and harassment and feelings of being alone or rejected by others we care about, it makes sense that LGBTQ+ individuals would have a higher likelihood of struggling with mental health issues," Messina said. He commended LGBTQ+ students who have faced such discrimination and prejudice for their strength and resiliency. “To face these pressures and stresses on top of the pressures of college life and still be able to succeed in a college environment speaks volumes about the resiliency that so many of our students possess,” Messina said.
He and Calvert both believe that living in a predominantly conservative area can cause LGBTQ+ individuals additional stress and negatively affect the entire LGBTQ+ community within the area. Messina said being in a largely conservative area greatly reduces the number of LGBTQ+ specific services in the community and the number of places in the community where these individuals can feel welcome and safe. “I think this makes the role of creating and maintaining a safe, open and accepting campus community even more important,” he said. Calvert said while most students are accepting of others’ identities, she believes that being in a conservative area can cause a lot more stress for students who identify as an LGBTQ+ individual. “There are constantly preachers in the quad telling us that our sexuality isn’t valid, and God doesn’t love us anymore,” Calvert said. The LGBTQ+ community often faces discrimination and prejudice; this is due in part to the stereotypes forced on them. In television and film, gay men have often been portrayed as very feminine, while women who identify as lesbian have been portrayed as “butch” and masculine. People who identify as bisexual or pansexual are often thought of as sexually promiscuous or confused about their sexuality. In same-sex relationships, one question seems to arise a lot: “Who is the man/woman in the relationship?” Media has portrayed transgender people as cross-dressers, drag queens or drag kings. These stereotypes can be potentially damaging because they invalidate the experiences and identities of individuals within the LGBTQ+ community. Calvert identifies as bisexual. She said when she discloses this to potential partners, they often ask for a threesome. She said she feels fetishized, especially by men. “Guys will always be like, ‘Oh, that’s so hot. How many girls have you been with?’ and prying into my personal information. I don’t have to
share that with you, even if I was straight. You wouldn’t ask those questions if I wasn’t into women,” Calvert said. SRU is generally very accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, with several programs, organizations and resources available to LGBTQ+ identifying students such as the Pride Center and The President's Commission on Gender Identity & Expression and Sexual Orientation (GIESO). “I think there is a pretty large acceptance, whether you are gay, straight or bisexual. But, also, I do surround myself with people who are more likely to be accepting,” Calvert said. “But I do think there is a lot more that we could be doing for trans students as well as non-binary students. I know that we have made some accomplishments with the name change policy. I just think that faculty and students need to be more educated, and we just need to be focusing on that community more specifically.” Calvert came out on National Coming Out Day in 2018 by posting it on her Instagram. She said that ever since then, she feels a lot better and more comfortable with herself. “In the time that I was telling a couple of my friends, when I was kind of out but not really, it was really stressful. I was constantly thinking ‘If I tell this person, are they going to treat me differently? What if someone finds out before I want them to?’” Calvert said. “I am really lucky that my family was really accepting because homelessness is a really big issue with LGBTQ+ youth.” Though Messina is new to the Student Counseling Center and SRU, he said he feels that the campus is an inviting and supportive community. “Having just arrived at SRU in August, I’m not sure that I’ve gotten an accurate picture of the overall level of acceptance on campus,” Messina said. “Like any community, I have spoken with individuals that have felt the community at SRU
GRAPHIC BY ALLISON DOWNS; INFORMATION COURTESY OF NAMI AND THE TREVOR PROJECT
is accepting of them and others that have not felt accepted. However, I have met many people who are supportive allies.” Messina added that the Student Counseling Center is always looking at how to better serve all students on campus, LGBTQ+ students included, and will continue to look at how to improve outreach efforts and programming specifically for LGBTQ+ students on campus. He also encourages students to reach out to him directly with their input and ideas. Calvert and Messina encourage all LGBTQ+ students to get involved with organizations on campus that
support their community. “We have several other offices that provide support specifically to the LGBTQ+ community,” Messina said. “The Pride Center and Office for Inclusive Excellence are always excellent resources for students. It’s my hope that [the Student Counseling Center] can collaborate with these and other offices on campus to provide specific supports and programming for LGBTQ+ students at SRU.” The Pride Center is located in The Suite on the second floor of Smith Student Center and it serves as a safe zone for LGBTQ+ students and a hub for
LGBTQ+ resources. The staff at the Pride Center assist in finding guest speakers for classes and information for projects about LGBTQ+ issues. RockOUT is an organization that educates the campus community and supports the LGBTQ+ students; it hosts social events and sponsors campuswide programs. G I E S O w o rk s i n conjunction with the Pride Center and RockOUT for various events and activities throughout the academic year, such as celebrations of National Coming Out Day in October and National Transgender Day of Remembrance in November.
October 25, 2019
POLICE BLOTTER October 16 - Police received a fire alarm activation in the Smith Student Center. Safety was notified and responded. Building was evacuated. Alarm was activated due to work being complete in the theater. It was an accidental activation. October 16 - Police received a fire alarm activation in ROCK apartments. Safety was notified and responded. Alarmed was caused by an individual vaping in their room. October 16 - Police received a call from an individual that stated they struck another vehicle in the West Lake Commuter Parking Lot. Owner of vehicle that was struck was notified and came to the lot. Both parties exchanged information, and no further police action was taken. October 16 - Police responded for a fire alarm activation in ROCK apartments. Responding officer spoke with residents who stated that the alarm just went off for no reason. The alarm was a malfunction. October 17 - Police received a call from a parent stating that their child may have fallen and may have had a seizure. Individual was in the lobby of Building F. It was discovered that the person was stung by a bee. Officer transported individual to the Health Center for further evaluation, and parent was notified.
October 18 - Police while on patrol observed an individual stumbling and almost falling on West Lake Lane. Officer made contact, and the person was intoxicated and was in possession of alcohol in their backpack. Call was made to individual's friend who arrived and transported person back to their apartment. Hugh Kelley, 20, was cited with an alcohol violation.
October 22 - University police received a be on the look out for two juvenile males that were in custody of George Junior personnel. The juveniles had jumped out of the transport van and fled on foot south of Main Street. Pictures and clothing descriptions were sent to University Police, and officers checked all of the campus area with negative results.
October 21 - Individual came into station to file report that while their vehicle was parked in the East Lake Parking Lot on Oct. 12, t heir vehicle was hit and damaged. Case is still under investigation.
October 23 - Police received a call of an individual that had taken food and did not pay for it in Boozel Dining Hall. Staff personnel knew person by name. Officer located individual on Rock Pride Drive and transported them back to dining hall. Individual did pay for item, and case was referred to Student Standards. No further police action was taken.
October 21 - Individual came into station to file a report that. their vehicle was damaged while parked in the Rhoads Hall Parking Lot within the last few days. Case is still under investigation. October 22 - Health Center nurse called and reported that a student from Building B was in need of medical attention. Officer requested an ambulance be dispatched. EMS transported person to Grove City Medical Center. October 22 - Butler Control notified dispatched that an ambulance was dispatched for an individual that had fallen down in the stairwell and needed medical care in ROCK apartments. EMS transported individual to Grove City Medical Center.
October 17 - Police received a fire alarm activation in ROCK apartments. Alarm was set off by burnt food.
October 22 - Police responded for a fire alarm activation in ROCK apartments. Safety was notified, and the cause of the alarm was burnt food.
October 17 - Borough PD requested assistance with two individuals that were arguing in the parking lot of the Kelly Farm apartments. Both parties were separated. Call was made to an assistant district attorney (ADA), and attorney advised the officers to have individuals stay at different locations for the evening. No further police action was taken.
October 22 - Police received a panic alarm in the Health Center. Officer spoke to Health Center personnel, and alarm was a malfunction. October 22 - Officer on patrol came in contact with an individual that was smoking marijuana on Water Tower Hill. Case will be sent to Student Standards. No further police action was taken.
October 23 - Police responded for a panic alarm activation in Health Center. Staff stated that all was OK. Safety was notified and responded. It was an accidental activation. October 23 - Borough PD requested assistance with a custody matter by Sheetz involving a child exchange between father and mother, and a firearm was brandished. A check of firearm was conducted, and individual had proper paperwork to have firearm. Incident was a civil matter, and no charges were filed. No further police action was taken by university police. October 23 - Police responded for an intruder alarm activation in Ski Lodge. Alarm was accidentally set off by individual that had rented the facility for the evening. October 24 - Nurse called and requested an ambulance be dispatched for an individual that needed medical treatment. Call was made, and EMS transported person to Butler Memorial Hospital.
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October 25, 2019
Counseling center takes new direction New counseling center director strives for community engagement, stigma reduction By Hannah Shumsky Editor-in-Chief
In the first eight weeks of the semester, SRU's counselors met with 230 students across 400 visits. Among those counselors is Kenneth Messina, the new clinical director of the counseling center located in Rhodes Hall suite 118. Messina, Ph.D. and licensed professor counselor (LPC), is an alum of SRU's master's in counseling and development (CDEV) program. He earned his undergraduate degree at Waynesburg College while also working at the Community Counseling Center in Mercer County, a role he held for 16 years. Messina earned his Ph.D. at Duquesne University and became a program coordinator in Minnesota before being hired at SRU. Messina said that he didn't interact with the counseling center much during his graduate studies at SRU, but is currently serving as an associate professor in the CDEV program to help connect the graduate program with the counseling center.
"At that time, the counseling center wasn't part of the counseling development program, so Â we were definitely really separate," Messina said. "Now we're working to integrate that a lot more so that it helps us balance some of the needs." The counseling center offers individual and group counseling for SRU students. Currently, there are three counseling groups: stress, grief and loss, and anxiety and depression. The counseling center also offers referral services for students who may need a level of specialized care or a provider off campus and consultations for groups or offices on campus concerning mental health and crisis response. "Really, whatever we can do, we do it," Messina said. Messina also addressed myths revolving around the counseling center, including wait times and session limits. The counseling center no longer has a session limit, and the center's average wait time of 14 days is less than the national average of 17 days, according to Messina. Messina said that about 20-25% of counseling center
appointments are cancellations or no shows. Under his leadership, the counseling center had a call list of students to contact if an appointment time opens up, shortening wait times for students. "Before, those just used to sit there and be empty spaces," Messina said. "Now, our front desk is calling and saying, 'Hey, we have an opening tomorrow at 3, can you make it?' If not, they just go down the list to the farthest down appointment and keep moving up." There is also one counselor per hour that is dedicated to walk-in appointments. "[Our system] is 'Come in, you'll be seen,'" Messina said. Messina is also looking to have the counseling center more involved in campus events. For Messina, he already attended Stride for Pride on National Coming Out Day alongside SRU's LGBTQ++ students. Information on group counseling is also shared on daily SRU Communication emails. "The counseling center has stood separate from the university for awhile, and part of what I want to do is see us become more of an integrated part of campus
life and doing events and being visible, advertising," Messina said. Messina said that the counseling center cannot provide specialized care, such as counseling for an eating disorder, or appointments for weekly or multiple times a week. The limitations of the academic calendar, including winter and spring break, also impacts the continuum of care a student may need. "That could potentially be really detrimental for their mental health and for their treatment, so want to make sure they're with someone who can give them that level of care that they need," Messina said. There are four and a half counselors (with some counselors also serving as professors) and four interns who work in the counseling center. As of Oct. 17, the counseling center was in progress of fulfilling another temporary position. Currently, two faculty members in the counseling center are on maternity leave, so CDEV professors have stepped in as counselors in the meantime. "It's been really nice to have that back up and collaboration
with our academic programs," Messina said. "It also helps when we're doing outreach and awareness things to have more hands there willing to pitch in and lend their expertise to addressing some of the mental health needs on campus."
The counseling center will also search for two permanent positions: one as a full-time counselor, and the other who will teach for a quarter of the time and serve as a counselor the other time.
GRAPHIC BY ALLISON DOWNS
Prioritizing student mental health SHAB talks coping skills, stress management and self-care By Allison Downs News Editor
This semester's first Student Health Advisory Board (SHAB) meeting on Thursday, Oct. 3 shone a light on stress, its effect on overall wellbeing and the different resources available to help students manage their stress. During stressful and difficult times, some students often resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, according to Christa Brahler, instructor and director of advisement resources. "People sometimes turn to negative behavioral coping strategies like alcohol or drug use, or disordered eating," Brahler said. "If you notice any of these changes in a friend, a resident or yourself, that's usually an indication that there is some kind of stressful trigger." Brahler added that there are certain behaviors students should pay attention to, both in those around them and
in themselves. In addition to alcohol or drug use and disordered eating behaviors, she urged students to watch out for irritability, physical exhaustion and social isolation. According to Emily McClaine, student success coach, students sometimes resort to medical withdrawal because the stress of balancing their classes, work and personal lives becomes too unbearable. "Success coaches do exit interviews with students who decide to withdraw," McClaine said, "and students often leave campus because of stress involving personal, social and academic situations. They spiral and they get so far behind or so overwhelmed that it becomes unrealistic for them to maintain their course load." McClaine said when she asks students about the physical symptoms they experience when they're under stress, she often hears complaints of stomach pain, shoulder cramping and lower back pain.
"Your body is in a heightened kind of state when you're stressed," Vought said. "This stress and chaos may seem normal to you as a college student, but this is not a normal state for your body to be in. If your body continues in this heightened state, you'll eventually reach physical exhaustion." McClaine said people respond to stress with a positive or negative behavior or thought. She encouraged everyone to take stock of their stressors, be reflective and identify what you can control and how you can grow. "In one on one sessions with success coaches, we help you make sense of what behaviors and thoughts would be more positive," McClaine said. "It's individualized and different for everyone. Looking inwardly and reflecting and figuring out what fuels you is most important when you're facing a stressful situations." Vought said students should focus on staying healthy when
undergoing stressful situations. Exercise, nutrition and sleep are all important when prioritizing health, but she also urged everyone to get their flu shots. "Stress reduces your immune function," Vought said, "but getting sick with the flu will also cause stress in your life." Joyan Urda, co-coordinator of the Exercise is Medicine program, highly encouraged getting up and being active, no matter how you do it. She further explained the program, saying it's a way to help you develop healthier habits, especially when it comes to regular exercise and nutrition. "We have students, your peers, who can actually help you set and reach behavioral goals," Urda said. "The program is six weeks in length because research has proven that it takes that amount of time to make or break a habit and we go through that process with you." Sylvia Edwards, intern to the Exercise is Medicine program, added that the highs
experienced with drug and alcohol use are similar to the highs experienced with exercise. Hormones like adrenaline and dopamine are released from the brain during physical activity, according to Edwards. "With stimulating drugs, you might experience increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and flushed face," Edwards said, "and you get all of the same responses with exercise like aerobics or resistance training." Edwards also said being there for someone who may be struggling is just as important and she emphasized that everyone should be aware of the way they approach them. "Ask them what's going on and don't press them or interrogate them if they aren't comfortable or aren't ready to talk about what's affecting them," Edwards said. "If they do talk to you though, tell them what behaviors you've noticed without talking down to them."
"There is a lot of power in listening, being nonjudgemental and validating somebody's feelings," Urda added. Elizabeth Wigton, assistant director of the office for student support, encouraged everyone to submit a care report if they notice any negative behavior changes in a friend or classmate. "If you're concerned about someone, or you see a friend who is struggling with anything that is causing increased stress, put a care report in," Wigton said. "Care reports allow me to reach out to a student and direct them to the most appropriate resources that are best for them and their situation." She said all care reports are submitted anonymously and that the form is easily accessible on the MySRU portal and the SRU website. She added that professors, staff and community assistants can help anyone find and submit a care report.
History moves toward greater trans inclusion CONT. FROM PAGE A-2
"I came from a very progressive community and when I was in high school, a lot of my friends were out," LaCom said. "What I realized when I moved here was that that was an exception and not the rule." When LaCom started at SRU two and a half decades ago, they recognized that few students, faculty and administrators were out as gay. In fact, LaCom remembers a conversation with a closeted gay student during one of their first few years of teaching. "I had a male student, and he had a small necklace with rainbow colors, and during a conversation, perhaps it was inappropriate, but I said, 'Right on, I support LGBTQ+,' and he turned bright red," LaCom said. "He said, 'How did you know? How did you know I was gay?'" LaCom added that awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and specific identities created spaces for students to discover their own identities.
"If you don't have a word for it, if there's not a language to describe it, oftentimes it's not called into being as completely as it could be," LaCom said. For alumnus Atticus Ranck, a 2012 SRU graduate with a degree in creative writing, he found one of his spaces on campus through RockOUT, which he led as a president for three years. "It was really important to have other people around me who loved me and helped so I didn't feel so isolated," Ranck said. "I didn't know a single other LGBTQ+ person until I went to college." Ranck, who works as a health program educator at the New York State Department of Health agency, went to graduate school at Florida Atlantic University. Ranck visited campus in 2016 for his presentation "It's A Hard Trans Life." Returning to campus post transition, he said that he was able to catch up with the professors and counselors who knew Ranck before his transition.
"It's making sure that people know who I was before was never a lie, but who I am know is a more authentic version of myself," Ranck said. Within the past 10 years, PASSHE and SRU have enacted policies to become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ students, faculty and administrators. On the state level, PASSHE approved same-sex partner benefits for union faculty and coaches. On SRU's own campus, 35 singleoccupancy, accessible restrooms were changed to all-gender restrooms. SRU's LGBTQ+ history also transcends into Rock traditions. Last fall, the homecoming committee changed the titles of "king" and "queen" to "royalty," allowing students to running for homecoming court regardless of gender expression. As an overview of his research, Bergmann said that the students, faculty and administrators who advocated for LGBTQ+ rights within the past 70 years helped create the social spaces for LGBTQ+ people to live today.
"They really were bucking social norms at the time and trying to carve out space," Bergmann said. "The acceptance of LGBTQ+ people on campus today is a product of these hard fought battles and very difficult times for students. Not to say that students don't have a difficult time today by any means, but these were hard fought battles to even gain the level of acceptance there is today." A true chosen name policy In response to the deadnaming issue caused by Banner 8, a group of students in LaCom's Intro to Gender Studies class is working to resolve the issue. The students - sophomores Maddie Bastos, Gia Iozzi, Riley Watson and Bailey Turnerâ€” have met privately with LaCom to discuss the deadnaming issue on Banner 8 and create action steps to stop deadnaming on campus. On the current chosen name policy, there is a note that D2L is in progress of accepting chosen names. LaCom said
in an advocacy group meeting earlier this month that the policy should be amended to include where specifically a dead name may be listed on D2L or Banner. "We have to be transparent," LaCom said. The advocacy group will meet again next week with LaCom and Emily Keener, assistant professor of psychology, to continue the conversation on deadnaming on D2L and Banner as well as residence life. Another part of the policy the anonymous transgender student said needs modified includes prefixes. In MySRU, each student's name also includes a gendered prefix, such as "Mr." or "Ms." For transgender students and faculty, this can be problematic, especially if a faculty member doesn't have a doctorate degree and is assigned a gendered prefix in Banner. This issue is currently not addressed in SRU's chosen name policy. "It's not an issue that can be solved easily, but the biggest
step now is to finish upgrading that software," the anonymous student said. For alumnus Ranck, he said a trans-inclusive campus completely eliminates the assumption that everyone is heterosexual or cisgender. "What that means is that we ask pronouns, we say our own pronouns first, we don't ask invasive questions, we don't ask questions about people's body parts, we don't assume that all trans people want to medically transition," Ranck said. "Just don't make assumptions about people's bodies or what they may want." While policy changes take time to take effect, LaCom is encouraged for the future of gender identity and expression on campus. "But I think at a pedagogical, curricular, faculty, staff, administrative and student level, change is happening," LaCom said. "It's a combination of the efforts of a whole bunch of people in terms of how that's happening."
Volume 103, Issue Number 3
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YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN
Thousands of SRU students, alum and community members filled Mihalik-Thompson Stadium Saturday afternoon, and it was not just to witness SRU take on archrival IUP, but to be a part of homecoming history at The Rock. This year, Ignacio Cisneros, Jr., a senior integrated marketing communications major, and Kemoni Farmer, a senior psychology major, were named homecoming royalty and made history as the first two men to be named royalty in a given year. However, within three days of the university communication and public affairs office posting Farmer and Cisneros’ picture on Facebook, nearly 200 people commented, with many of those comments criticizing the selection of two men for homecoming royalty. Last year, SRU’s homecoming committee made SRU history by changing the traditional homecoming king and queen titles to homecoming royalty, a move to become more gender inclusive in homecoming festivities. This change was largely unnoticed online last fall, as the two royalty winners happened to be a male and female. The staff of The Rocket believes that some of this negative reaction is due to a lack of understanding around the circumstances of the voting process. All SRU students had four days to vote for two students out of 15 candidates that theyy p pp y felt best represented Slippery y These 15 Rock University. candidates were eventuallyy g narrowed down to eight students for the homecomingg p p rallyy and court at the pep y winners were the final royalty announced a t
halftime during the football game on Saturday. From the 15 original candidates, students voted from a diverse pool of students. Not only did these students represent a variety of organizations on campus, but the candidates included students who preferred she/her, he/his or they/them pronouns as well as people of color and varying sexual orientations. This being said, the thought that women were excluded from homecoming royalty is completely false, as there were multiple female candidates who ultimately were voted into the court. At the end of the day, 15 candidates who met the eligibility standards (a full-time undergraduate or graduate student with a 3.0 GPA and either a nomination from a student organization or residence hall or a completed petition) represent some of SRU’s most involved students. These candidates were voted upon by the students who could vote for any two students regardless of gender. Thankfully, the large majority of these negative comments aren’t from students. SRU students recognize the need to reward the best of their peers regardless of their gender expression, and we commend the homecoming committee for making this change last year. Another point of contention with some Facebook comments is that one of the royalty winners received a crown t h a t m a y
appear traditionally more feminine. However, this headpiece was advertised in a homecoming magazine as a traditional masculine crown, according to Lauren Moran, director of the office for student engagement and leadership. There were at least three different headpiece options presented to the royalty winners at the moment they were announced as winners (while many onlookers said there were only three options, Moran said there were four choices of headpieces). Both winners wanted the crown that modeled a traditionally masculine crown; however, since there was only one of each headpiece option, one winner chose a different crown in the intensity of the moment. Moran said that the second winner requested a different crown shortly after the crowning ceremony, which the homecoming committee has since ordered. In an emailed statement to The Rocket, Moran said: “The student Homecoming Committee had a very intentional conversation about how to approach the Royalty head-ware this year. Removing head pieces all together was discussed, but the committee felt that students really enjoyed the ‘crowning’ tradition and wanted to keep it. So as an alternative, four different head p pieces were purchased, with the idea that a student could
pick which one they wanted, no matter their gender identity. Two were crowns and two were tiaras, neither being identified as male or female items. The committee also added scepters to the items the Royalty received, along with flowers.” In the future, The Rocket staff believes this issue can be resolved with another question on the homecoming royalty application with the option of what type of crown the student would prefer if they won homecoming royalty. Th is option will eliminate problems of receiving a crown that a student feels leans too masculine or feminine for their personal expression. Other solutions may include having two of each type of headpiece or eliminating the crowning part of the ceremony altogether, but having the option to select a specific headpiece may eliminate a mix-up during the highly anticipated and emotional crowning ceremony. The SRU student body holds the responsibility to nominate and ultimately select the students who best represent SRU pride every homecoming season. The fact that students are no longer limited to voting for one male and one female student and can vote for two students regardless of gender is the first step in breakingg the ggender binary. y Now, with the historic crowningg of two men as royalty, y y it’s time to think about those adjustments for next year.
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In the Quad
Question: What does "pride" mean to you?
By: Aaron Marrie
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LETTERS POLICY The Rocket welcomes letters to the editor and guest columns, but does not guarantee their publication. The Rocket retains the right to edit or reject any material submitted. Submitted material becomes the property of The Rocket and cannot be returned. Anonymous submissions will not be published. Those who submit letters must identify themselves by name, year in school, major and/or group affiliation, if any. Please limit letters to a maximum of 400 words. Submit all material by noon Wednesday to: The Rocket, 220 ECB, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, Pa. 16057. Or send it via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kaylee Rea Senior Recreational Therapy
Martha Dunkelberger Senior Dance and PAFM
Luke Shore Junior Political Science
“Pride is being happy with who you are and how you express yourself through that way. Pride is basically being proud of who you are and accepting others just as they are.”
“Pride to me means that you live true to your authentic self and you are confident in that regardless of the challenges that you face.”
“Pride for me means advocating for others and accepting yourself as you are.”
October 25, 2019
Being trans at Slippery Rock remains an uphill battle
Madison V. King Madison is a junior political science major, the news director of WSRU-FM and a transgender woman. She can be found on Twitter @madisonvking. As we celebrate Pride Week here on campus, it is important that we consider the queer community beyond just people who identify as cisgender and gay. Transgender as well as gender nonconforming people have defined the LGBTQ+ movement since its’ formative days, from Christine Jorgensen’s groundbreaking decision to get sexual reassignment surgery in the 1950s, from the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot that precluded the Stonewall riots, to Marsha P. Johnson throwing the first brick at Stonewall, to Sandy Stone’s 1987 essay The Empire Strikes Back, to modern day figures like actors Chaz Bono and Laverne Cox, State Representatives Danica Roem and Brianna Titone and professional sports stars like Harrison Browne and Jessica Platt. Despite the prevalence of folks who identify as something other than cisgender all throughout queer history, the contributions of noncis individuals have gone through decades of erasure, only undone much more recently by academics like Susan Stryker, and the presence
of non-cisgender individuals in the LGBTQ+ movement continues to be minimized, including in settings right here on campus. Despite public efforts by the university to act in the interests of the LGBTQ+ community, what we see are more attempts like the pridethemed stairs in the Student Center instead of meaningful attempts at reforming policies to help transgender individuals. The university’s preferred name policy, implemented in its current form earlier this year, is an example of one of these meaningful changes, and the numerous gender-neutral restrooms on campus is another one, however, for students like me, this is as far as it goes.
Within organizations, being trans is also a complete minefield, even within organizations that are supposed to be allied with your interests. Any gender segregated organizations, including most fraternities , and sororities and most sports (both club and division), are completely off limits from the beginning, unless you happen to be someone who can afford to hide the fact that you’re not a cisgender individual. Any overnight trip organized by any organization becomes a logistical nightmare with regards to sleeping arrangements to the point that most trans folks just opt to skip them
"Despite public efforts by the university to act in the interests of the LGBTQ+ community, what we see are more attempts like the pride-themed stairs in the Student Center instead of meaningful attempts at reforming policies to help transgender individuals." Professors from all departments continue to neglect the needs of their trans students and push back on efforts to use their preferred names and pronouns, the major software vendor that the university uses to power mySRU refuses to allow preferred names in their databases and generally any attempt to get anyone on campus, from students to professors to organizations, requires outing yourself, which can be a painfully embarrassing experience at best and an actual risk at worst.
entirely. Organizations that are even supposedly advocating for our causes have issues with little-tono trans representation, holding problematic events and advocating for problematic and outright transphobic political figures, not doing anything to rebuke transphobic behavior that occurs within organizations and doing what can best be called “performative allyship” – giving lip service to trans folks and their struggles while doing very little to actually help or even
include trans folks in discussions. This is not to say these organizations are actively transphobic! The majority of them have good intent but are generally uneducated on how to do allyship. I actively encourage those organizations to use the many educational resources available – whether from online sources, or if they have a trans person who would be willing to educate (and not all of them will be willing!), or some other method that I haven’t mentioned here. I also encourage other trans folks on campus to get more involved – the best way for trans people to gain more progress is simply for us to become more vocal about the things we go through. This is especially true for student government, as well. SGA is an important body that handles a lot of important issues and can easily be a vehicle through which to further trans rights on campus – especially with the advent of the SGA Social Justice Committee, which in its short existence of about a year and a half has already helped develop the preferred name policy discussed above. So as we continue to celebrate Pride Week here on campus and have fun in the procewss, which I absolutely encourage and will certainly be doing myself, it is important to keep in mind the LGBTQ+ rights which we are still fighting for. To cisgender members of the queer community, reach out to your non-cisgender friends and ask them how to be a better ally. The more we fight as a community, the better our lives get. Happy Pride Week. Here’s to a brighter future for the LGBTQ+ community.
National Coming Out Day and what it means to be queer
Cameron Cavaliere Cameron is a third-year professional writing and political science major. She is active as the secretary of the SRU Honors College, the vice president of Sigma Tau Delta and the intern for the Gender Studies Program. Oct. 11 was National Coming Out Day, initially established in 1988 as an awareness day, as many LGBT+ people thought that homophobia might dissipate if more people saw they knew someone who is a member of the community. Today, National Coming Out Day exists in a flurry of colorful social media posts surrounded by a dialogue of shared experiences from every corner of the LGBT+ community. I always felt rather odd about coming out. I am a notorious blabbermouth, even with my own secrets, so it would eventually slip out to friends and family in the most random ways imaginable. It was never some big talk I had with people I knew. There was no big lead up,
no “I brought you all here today to tell you…” It would eventually just stumble out by chance in conversations about relationships and other things. I had no fears about coming out which I’m very grateful for. I know that isn’t always the experience of many members of the LGBT+ community, but I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family. Some of my friends were the same, simply supportive and on my side, but others haven’t been so great. But I’m of the attitude that if you’re so bothered by who I’m attracted to, then I don’t want you around anyways. However, as of late, I’d been overwhelmed by the amount of questioning from friends and family. Things along the lines of “I think you’ll end up with a man eventually, maybe you’re just bi!” and “well, you don’t look gay!” These questionings of my sexuality from well meaning (and not so well meaning) family and friends have added to my distress that I just don’t feel like I quite fit into the LGBT+ community. I’m not quite sure I know what it means to be a “good queer person.” What does that even mean? Is that even something I can accomplish? It was clear there were things that separated me from my straight friends, but I also felt a disconnection from the LGBT+ and queer community. I had no idea how to reconcile this gap I felt. That is until recently. I was watching the LGBTQ Town Hall and was listening to Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak. Disregarding politics, I think it is incredible
and groundbreaking that we are currently witnessing an openly gay man run for president. When speaking about his own experiences as a gay man, Buttigieg said something that radically changed the way I thought about myself in the community: "There is no right or wrong way to be gay, to be queer, to be trans and I hope that our own community, even as we struggle to define what our identity means, defines it in a way that lets everybody know that they belong among us."
"You are valid and you are important no matter how you identify. If you ever feel like you don't belong, keep searching. I promise you the answer is our there somewhere." This one singular sentence has helped me think about myself and the LGBT community at large in a completely different light. A sense of belonging is something I had always struggled to find. But recently, I’m starting to feel more and more whole as a
queer person. I’ve become involved with the Gender Studies Program and met more people who identify all sorts of ways. What I’ve learned from all these things is that my identity, my queerness, it is a part of me, but it doesn’t define me completely. It is a significant part of me that I am proud to share with the world. We’re living in a much different world today than in 1988 and we’ve come a long way, but that’s not to say we still don’t face challenges. As I write this, nine Supreme Court Justices are deciding whether or not it is legal for LGBT+ individuals to be discriminated against in the workplace and frankly, that’s insane to me. To think we’ve come so far yet have so far to go. I hope for a future where no one has to worry that how they identify will impact how people view them. To my fellow members of the LGBT+ and queer communities, I say: keep doing you. You are valid and you are important no matter how you identify. If you ever feel like you don’t belong, keep searching. I promise you the answer is out there somewhere.
Students' pronouns: Ask, don't assume Samantha Burkhouse Samantha is a senior history and political science major. She is the president of Young Progressives, secretary of Phi Alpha Theta and a commuter senator of the Student Government Association. My pronouns are she/her/ hers. I have classmates who use the same pronouns, as well as some who use he/ him/his, they/them/theirs or something else. Some of these students have been using these pronouns since birth, and some have changed their pronouns as they recognized their identity as being different from the gender they were assigned at birth. However, in the nine semesters that I have been a student at SRU, I have only had two professors who asked the students in their class for their pronouns before the semester started. Having the “correct pronouns, names and inclusion” policy in every class syllabus is not enough. It seems ingenuine and many professors just gloss over it as something else that they have to put in their syllabus, as if it probably doesn’t affect anyone in their class. Without directly asking students about their pronouns, professors are just assuming the pronouns of their students and there is no way for professors to do this without being problematic.
"[Professors] have the option of putting students in a position where they feel unsafe and unwelcome in the classroom, or one where they feel included and accepted as a part of the community." We need to normalize asking others their pronouns in general, regardless of how they identify, and this should start with the people we look up to: our professors. If we only ask people what their pronouns are if we can’t tell whether they
a re “m a s c u l i n e” o r “feminine,” it can be taken as an insult to a student who is transgender because they may think that since nobody else is asked their pronouns, they don’t “pass” as the gender they identify as. Some people may “look” masculine or feminine to you, but they may not identify that way. On the other hand, if you ask everybody their preferred pronouns, you aren’t singling them out or making them feel uncomfortable – you are truly being inclusive of everyone. It is also important to ask students their pronouns along with asking if their names listed on the class roster are correct ahead of the first day of class. If a trans or nonbinary student is in class on their first day of the semester and the professor taking attendance calls out their deadname from the roster, they are forced to either correct that professor and out themselves to the class, or go along with it and continue to be deadnamed throughout the semester by their professor and classmates. Even as a cisgender woman, I would rather let the professor know ahead of time that no, I do not prefer to be called Sam instead of Samantha as many professors assume. If they assume that I go by a shortened version of my name, I can guess that they are also assuming the pronouns of people who look a certain way or have their deadname listed on the roster. This does not foster a safe and welcoming classroom environment that all teachers should strive to create, and it could be a detriment to the individual student’s learning experience. It also serves as an example to other students about being inclusive and open minded towards others that they can work on in their everyday lives as well. Professors must be careful about how they go about this process to make sure that they do not misgender students, but also so that they do not out students who have not disclosed their identity yet. They have the option of putting students in a position where they feel unsafe and unwelcome in the classroom, or one where they feel included and accepted as a part of the community. I know that most of my professors here care about their students and do want them to feel comfortable and succeed. Therefore, I urge all professors at SRU to ask students for their name and pronouns before each semester. In addition, I would urge my fellow students to ask others their pronouns and give them yours, regardless of your identity, so that you can be a good ally to your classmates and create a positive campus community.
October 25, 2019
What coming out means to me are out are living their true identity. This dualism can invalidate the experience of people who are in the closet for whatever reason they see necessary. While the closet can be a negative metaphor, it can also be a necessary refuge for some people as well as a safe place.
Maggie Calvert Maggie is a senior political science, philosophy and gender studies major, the vice president of diversity and inclusion of the Student Government Association and the president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. Author Steven Seidman writes that "it is the power of the closet to shape the core of an individual's life that has made homosexuality into a significant personal, social and political drama in twentieth-centur y America." The concept of coming out is shaping to the experience of most people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and the closet holds a lot of power within our lives. Coming out is treated as a right of passage and something that is an inevitable piece of a gay person’s story. The dichotomy of the closet metaphor is interesting to me because it automatically places the closet as this dark and desolate place and people who are in the closet are depicted as leading false lives whereas people who
are constantly coming out to people throughout their lives because heterosexuality is the assumed default. They are constantly considering, “Is this a safe decision? Will I be treated differently? Could I lose my job?” My personal experience with coming out has had its
"That's not to say that since coming out everything has been rainbows and unicorns for me. Being out does not stop oppression or mistreatment which is another flaw of the closet metaphor. I am constantly being fetishized by both men and women. My identity is erased by straight people as well as people in the community and I have to constantly ask myself if I am gay enough to exist in certain spaces." The term coming out also treats someone’s sexuality as rigid and finalized. To come out necessitates labeling oneself to a certain extent and the labels hold certain expectations. Sexuality can be restricted by coming out because you are expected to adhere to the label you “chose” to come out with and this leaves no room for exploration or reconsideration. So while coming out is supposed to be liberating, and it absolutely can be, it can be limiting at the same time. It also seems to suggest that once you are out of the closet, you will never have to go back in. LGBT+ folks
ups and downs. My sexuality is something that I have always been uncomfortable with and I never really wanted to put a label on it especially when I was in heterosexual relationships because it felt too confusing. I started to reconsider and considered coming out to some of my friends to help find some clarity. Most of them were supportive but I had one friend who outed me to their partner without my consent. I found myself constantly worrying about if my family would find out or what other people would think of me especially if they heard it from someone else.
Minivans and masters degrees
Kali Davies-Anderson Kali is a sophomore public health pre-PT major. She is a nontraditional student and a mom of four and is expecting her fifth. She has previously worked with the New Castle News. When I announced to my husband in August of 2018 that I wanted to return to college, he was completely on board. With both of us interested in making it happen, I set to work on the logistics of it. Nine months later, I started my first class at Slippery Rock University and I am now a full time student enrolled as a Public Health Major with plans to become a Physician Assistant. I suppose this would be the appropriate time to mention that I am also the mother of four children (Violet-8, Ivy-6, Charlotte-4 and Leo-2) and am over seven months pregnant with my fifth (AND LAST) baby, Rosie. I am due December 17th and my last final is Dec. 11.
We’ll see how that goes. I found out I was, ahem, with child, around two weeks before my first summer class began. And definitely thought about putting off school until after the baby. However, I should also mention that I am a little bit old...er than most Sophomore college students and with the long path of becoming a PA ahead of me, I decided to truck through it.
"Yes, things are 'different' as a pregnant, married mom of four college student, but so far I am really enjoying my classes and the company of the students enrolled in them." For the most par t, things have gone smoothly and the students in my classes have at least pretended to not be jarred by the sight of my big belly. For the first month or so of classes, I was really going for that “I just ate a double meat burrito at Chipotle” look, and I would say that it was executed fairly
well. But, now that I am approaching my last month of child bearing, there is no hiding it. I often wonder if the people that sit next to me in class notice the feet and tiny baby butt that protrude through my sweatshirt as I attempt to listen to discussions about diversity and civil discourse. I also wonder if the university has even considered the placement of an escalator leading from the lower level p a rk i n g l o t s t o t h e Ei s e n b e r g C l a s s ro o m Building. Maybe one that specifically leads to MY parking spot? Because with the huffing and puffing I do on my way up the walkway, someone is sure to call for EMS for me one day. Not that I would be sad about that, either. Ye s , things are “different” as a pregnant, married, mom of four college student, but so far I am really enjoying my classes and the company of the students enrolled in them. As a former writer for a local newspaper and perpetual complainer, I decided that blogging for The Rocket might be a fun opportunity. And even though every other body part I have seems to be failing me these days, my hands can still type, so I figured why not write? Oh, and if you happen to see a full term pregnant lady, lying flat on her back at the bottom/ middle of the hill below the ECB, there is no need for medical backup. I’m simply resting my swollen calves.
I made the decision to come out last year on National Coming Out Day. I received an overwhelming positive response and I am so grateful that my family was accepting because not everyone has that privilege. Homelessness and violence are large issues for the LGBT+ community. Some communities are harder to come out in than others and other minoritized identities can intensify the struggle that someone faces. That’s not to say that since coming out ever ything has been rainbows and unicorns for me. Being out does not stop oppression or mistreatment which is another flaw of the closet metaphor. I am constantly being fetishized by both men and women. My identity is erased by straight people as well as people in the community and I have to constantly ask myself if I am gay enough to exist in certain spaces. Being out has given me a better understanding and the ability to combat and reclaim these oppressions but it certainly has not stopped them from happening. Coming out is a complicated experience and each person has to make their decision about when and if coming out is appropriate for them. Someone’s sexuality is just as valid in the closet as it is outside of it. Being out is simultaneously liberating and limiting, clarifying and confusing, empowering and oppressive. So what does coming out mean to me? Well, it’s complicated.
Surrender the spotlight
Derek Brewer Derek is a junior advertising major with political science and gender studies minors. He serves as director of concerts and comedians for the University Program Board and is an active member of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Gender Studies Club. I often play the role of the "token white straight man" in a lot of the groups I participate in and I’ve received a lot of notoriety for that. I’m often showered in praise for being ‘woke’ or whatever, but I often don’t allow that. I respond simply with “I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.” Just because I’m not racist, think women are people and don’t hate the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t mean I do anything special in my opinion. I do my best every day to be the best ally and advocate that I can be and sometimes the best way to do that is to be a silent supporter. No one should
be put on a pedestal for loudly proclaiming they’re the most progressive or the best ally or anything like that. The best way to be an ally is realizing the causes you’re fighting for aren’t about you. You can sympathize but you can’t truly empathize with the struggles of marginalized groups.
"The best way to be an ally is realizing the causes you're fighting for aren't about you. You can sympathize but you can't truly emphasize with the struggles of marginalized groups." The best way to be an ally is to fight alongside of, not on behalf of, these groups. It’s using your knowledge and platform to educate and advocate about and for these people. Something as simple as going to events put on by your LGBTQ+ friends or educating your coworkers on the importance of correct pronoun usage is incredibly important. Being an ally is easy and important, but remember, it isn’t about you. It’s about the cause and the empowerment of others. If you’re in it for the glory and to be seen as a savior, are you in it for the right reasons?
Country over party: America in crisis Stone R. Helsel Stone is a freshman secondary education: social studies major. Our democracy is in peril. This is not an alarmist’s siren, but an echo of caution and truth. President Donald Trump’s call on July 2019 with Ukrainian President Vo l o d y m y r Ze l e n s k y requesting his government to investigate his political rival is not common practice in collecting opposition research. It is an abrasive violation of our democratic norms and institutions. As the House of Representatives launches a formal impeachment inquiry on this grave and deeply troubling matter,
congressional Republicans fall silent or stand complicit with the President’s abhorrent behavior. Allies of the President can’t spin this scandal away. The White House has admitted this unethical overreach of executive power by releasing a transcript of the call in question. It is black and white. Our president said clearly, “I would like you to do us a favor…” His impoundment of vital military assistance to the Ukrainian military directly establishes a quid pro quo. The facts are indisputable. The real question is whether congressional Republicans will choose country over party. At the start of each congress, senators and members of congress swear that they will “support and defend the Constitution.” It i s t h e i r s o l e m n obligation as delegates of we the people to exercise their oversight function as a co-equal branch of government. The President of the United States directly invited a foreign government to intervene in our free and fair elections. This is morally repugnant to all American ideals of
freedom and democracy. Political interference of a democratic electoral process is the work of a banana republic or despotic authoritarian regime, not the shining city on the hill. The Republican Party has abdicated its constitutional duty of holding this president to account in favor of securing political expediency for their self-serving pursuit of power. Where are the Margaret Chase Smiths or John McCains of today’s conservative movement? These defenders of institutions are no more. Remaining are only spineless politicians, not devoted statesmen. This vacuum of strong Republican leadership must be filled in order to allow our nation to renew the cornerstone of a government that works on behalf of its people. It is the civic responsibility of all who cherish the rule of law and this grand experiment of self-governance to demand the party of Lincoln to choose the interests of all than their own. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
CORRECTION: In The Rocket's Oct. 4 print issue, the writer of the article "SGA town hall turns political" wrote that one student mentioned that the location of the counseling center was not listed on the website. While this was true of the time of the town hall, the website was updated before press time.
The counseling center's location is: Rhoads Hall 204 Campus Drive, Suite 118 724-738-2034
Leading scorer in school history At theonlinerocket.com
An imperfect world The struggle of an LGBTQ+ athlete in college athletics
By Karl Ludwig Sports Editor
Don't print my name, she said. When you refer to me, can you please only specify that I'm a female studentathlete at Slippery Rock, she asked. Coming out to a group of teammates shouldn't have to be a stressful ordeal, but in today's world, it is. In a joint study between the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the University of Connecticut, more than 12,000 teenage athletes participated in the HCR's 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey. The study concluded a startling statistic: 80% of LGBT teenage athletes and 83% of transgender teenage athletes were not out to their coaches. Despite the progress made by LGBTQ+ athletes in major sports over the last few years, the stigma around those athletes still weighs heavily on the minds of young student-athletes. Growing up attending a private school with religious affiliation in a more conservative region of the country, the aforementioned student-athlete felt unable to truly be herself. The stigma of being an LGBTQ+ athlete, coupled with the prejudice and discrimination faced by teammates and peers, led to a sometimes uncomfortable experience. Throughout high school, she hid her sexuality. She felt like her teammates would respond negatively to having a member of the LGBTQ+ community on their team. The prospect of having to share a bed when sleeping in the same hotel room sometimes led to worries about what teammates might think of her. The possibility of a misconception arising in which teammates would make unfounded assumptions about her was always a concern. When arriving at Slippery Rock, despite coming into a brand new location with a different atmosphere than her previous school, her fear manifested itself in a familiar way. I don't want my teammates to be able to read this and tell that it's me, she said. "Even though they're my teammates, and they're supposed to support me, I think I'm afraid of finding out who [doesn't support me]," she said. Although coming to a completely new place like Slippery Rock allowed her to become more independent and outspoken in her life, the fear of being viewed differently has lingered. "I kind of realized that if people aren't going to be OK with who I am, if that's what they're going to focus on, and not focus o n other qualities that I myself am
confident in, then they're not really people I want to surround myself with. I'm the kind of person who looks for the best in someone. So, I would want to look past that, but it's always in the back of my mind that someone might not be okay with me being lesbian." Despite being a leader on her team, having a tireless work ethic and making a positive impact on her teammates, she fears her reputation and respect among teammates would be tarnished simply because of who she loves. That trepidation has effectively kept her in the closet to a majority of her teammates. "That's the thing: I don't know [how my team would react], and I'm scared to find out," she admitted. Even though this student-athlete has informed a select number of teammates about her sexuality, even broaching the topic of sexuality with her teammates' causes immense anxiety.
"In a designated group of people, usually at least one of them will identify as a lesbian. I'm worried about [sexuality] ever coming up because I'm wondering if they're going to realize I'm one of the only people on the team who doesn't have a boyfriend and has never pursued it. I'm worried about them putting that together and people's perspectives of me changing," she said. Despite her status in the LGBTQ+ community playing a major role in her life, it's not what defines her, she said. To the people who discriminate solely on the fact that she is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she said she possesses some amazing qualities that have nothing to do with who she i s
attracted to. Aside from her personal perception among friends, family and teammates
changing due to a potential public announcement of her sexuality, she pointed to the lack of rights that members of the LGBTQ+ community still don't receive in today's world. "Some of the teammates who do know, sometimes I would talk about certain LGBT issues, like adoption. How some adoption agencies might not want to give me a child if they're a more private, Christian adoption agency because of my identity. My teammate said that's discrimination and I was like, "yeah, that's the point.' A lot of them don't realize that there are a lot of issues that are still prevalent," she said. Members of the LGBT community are still not fully protected from discrimination in 60% of the United States.
In 28 states, there are no explicit state laws that protect citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodation. One of those states happens to be Pennsylvania. In Wisconsin, citizens are not protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and Utah provides no statues on public accommodation. When at home, in a state that provides no protection from discrimination in the workplace, she admitted her fear at the prospect of being terminated from her job, if she were to come public with her sexuality. With court cases
awaiting judgment in the Supreme Court, which could linger for a while or end up rejected, she expressed concern that it could be a long time before she is truly able to be herself. Even among her extended family, who she has not yet come out to, she cannot be her true self. A harsh reality many members of the LGBT community face, she said that her extended family would react to the news of her sexuality in a negative way. Excluding her extended family, she has come out to her parents and sister and received much-needed support, but sometimes it's what they haven't said that's lingered in the back of her mind. "When elections were going on last year, the man who ran for governor and actually won, was against L G B T people and I k n ow that
because I've looked up the bills he's supported. He typically didn't support the ones for gay people, so I obviously didn't vote for him. I'm not going to vote for someone who views me as a second-class citizen. Even though my parents and sister knew, and they do support me, they still voted for him," she said. To this student-athlete, oftentimes it is the words that aren't said that speak louder than those that are. But that doesn't mean the words that actually are spoken can't leave emotional and physical damage. "I do wish I could be more outspoken," she said. "I was walking through my apartment complex the other day and someone used, within a 30-second span, a slur and said, 'that's really gay.' I thought, 'you know, I really wish I could say something,' but at the same time, it was a bigger group of people and I'm outnumbered here. I would be labeled as trying to shove my agenda down their throat, despite the fact that that's a slur and it's not OK." In the midst of Pride Week at Slippery Rock, with numerous events on campus bringing attention to the LGBT community, she complimented the Slippery Rock community's approach to promoting more recognition and awareness to the LGBT community but questioned how deep that sentiment really lies. "This isn't aimed at any organization in particular, but organizations and people will use [Pride Week] as a way to promote themselves a little bit. They still won't show up for LGBT people when something bad happens, so what isn't being done or what isn't being said is just as important as what is being done or said. That's not what allyship is. You shouldn't just be an ally for the LGBT community when it's convienient for you." she said. When comparing the general atmosphere surrounding the LGBTQ+ community with that of athletics at Slippery Rock, she said it was almost too different to compare. The aforementioned hotel room situation is the obvious example, she said. But it's the prejudice and stereotyping around female athletes, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community, that cut deep. Typically, people tend to categorize LGBTQ+ athletes as playing "those sports," she said. Lesbian athletes are typically portrayed as short-haired, gruff basketball or softball players. She was quick to dispell this notion because she doesn't fit that stereotype and that's indicative of how stereotypes are not neccesarily true. In order to buck these harmful stereotypes and common misconceptions, she encouraged open communication on both sides of the spectrum. "I understand that there are people that are hateful, but there are also people who just genuinely don't know better. I had a teammate ask me recently something that was completely not offensive at all about my life as a lesbian, but she prefaced it as 'I'm not trying to offend you, I'm just asking.' I think a lot of people are afraid to ask because they're afraid of a hostile response," she said. In order to improve understanding and acceptance on Slippery Rock's campus, she wished for an environment in which members of the community and campus could actually openly communicate with people who are different than themselves. She stressed the importance of actually talking to people who are different than themselves in an open and positive atmosphere. Getting to know more about marginalized groups in the community can help make better allies, she said. Differences in sexuality should be normalized. According to this studentathlete, there's a very easy way of looking at it. "I've heard it compared to what pizza people like. I like cheese pizza, but I know some other people like pepperoni pizza. Some people like all kinds of pizza and some people don't like pizza at all. Sexual preferences, I think, should be as normal as talking about what kind of pizza we like," she said. "In a perfect world, we wouldn't be having these issues. In a perfect world, coming out wouldn't be a big thing. I think being LGBTQ+ would be a normal thing," she said. But we live in anything but a perfect world.
A league of his own By Zack Bonnette Asst. Sports Editor
In a football program where records seemingly fall on a weekly basis, Slippery Rock University has recently crowned a new leader in career scoring: senior kicker Jake Chapla. A record that stood for 19 years, Chapla broke the record on a 37-yard field goal attempt through the uprights against Mercyhurst on Oct. 5 to topple former running back Stan Kennedy’s record of 318 points. Four years of hard work, dedication and consistency at Slippery Rock went into achieving a milestone that will be remembered forever. So, that finally started him on the path to become the decorated kicker that he is today? “I played soccer my whole life and just growing up I always had a pretty big leg,” Chapla said. “So, people always told my parents to make sure he knows how to kick a football.” When he was younger, Chapla said that his parents would take him to the local high school’s football field. With his only football, he said he would practice kicking the ball through the field goal over and over until it was time to go home. Nobody knew at the time, but it was those kinds of days that retrospectively laid the foundation for Chapla’s illustrious career as a kicker. With hundreds of different statistics recorded in the game of football, breaking an all-time scoring record is generally considered one of, if not the most impressive feat to accomplish. What makes this accomplishment even more remarkable is that Chapla did not play organized football until his friends recruited him to play in high school.
In his freshman year of high school, Chapla said that a bunch of his friends kept telling him that the football team needed someone to kick for them and that he should try out. He took his friends up on the offer and played for Plum high school that season before being named the starting kicker the following year. After that, it was history. In the last three years of his high school career, Chapla was about as consistent as a kicker can be. After his first season as the starting kicker concluded, he was a First Team All-Conference AAAA Foothills kicker selection and prior to his junior season, Chapla was named a First Team All-State preseason kicker. At the conclusion of his junior season, the emerging star received an All-State honorable mention. Chapla would then play in the PSFCA East/West AllStar Game before committing to play at Slippery Rock. In his freshman season at Slippery Rock, Chapla would be named the starter, and had a relatively productive season, converting on 11 of 17 field goals while making 39 extra point attempts. After just one season at SRU, Chapla was already threatening the record books, as he tied for fifth in Rock single-season history for field goals made and eighth for extra points made. In his sophomore campaign, Chapla was not only The Rock’s kicker but he assumed punting duties as well. Chapla converted on 11 more field goals and a whopping 53 extra point attempts. Chapla would go on to earn second-team all Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West honors as both a kicker and punter, putting the cherry on top of a wonderful season. Accumulating 158 points in his first two seasons, Chapla
was directly on pace to break Kennedy’s longstanding scoring record at SRU. “I realized I was about halfway for the scoring record for the season,” Chapla said. “And I was kinda in my head like ‘OK, maybe this can be a goal I can put down for myself’”. The veteran kicker went on to say that he thought to himself that breaking the career record for scoring could happen if the offense kept putting up as many points as it did in his first two seasons and well, it certainly has. In 2016 (Chapla’s freshman season), The Rock averaged 35.5 points per game and in the following year, Slippery Rock averaged 40.2 points per game. Chapla converted on 17 field goals and 66 of 67 extra point attempts in 2018, as The Rock averaged 37.2 points per game, pushing his career point total to 275, just 43 points short of Kennedy’s record with another year to play. Fast forward to this season, Chapla finds himself on one of the most elite teams in the country, as No. 9 Slippery Rock boasts a 7-0 record and the third best scoring offense in all of Division II, averaging 50.1 points per game. With no shortage of opportunity in his senior season, Chapla entered the fifth game of his senior season poised to break Slippery Rock’s career scoring record. Chapla would only need the first quarter to break the record, making all the hours and kick after kick a bit more worth it. The new Slippery Rock all-time career scoring leader describes his record as a validation of all the hard work he has put in over the years. “The community is amazing here,” Chapla said. “The support we get, the highest attendance in the
PSAC every single year, it’s incredible.” Chapla went on to say that es all the faith and he appreciates support thatt his coaches and teammates have in him. Even afterr all the happiness gacy that comes and the legacy ing the scoring with breaking hapla also said record, Chapla ng this goal that reaching ght off his is a big weight chest. ly, I’m “Honestly, ad kind of glad that the chase for [the record] iss over,” Chapla said.. “I’m glad that it’s over,r, I feel like that I have that relief st focus on and I can just kicking thee football now.” Now with 338 nts, it is career points, ssible that entirely possible Chapla can break yet cord, this another record, most points one for r in PSAC by a kicker he current history. The older, Dan record holder, Fisher, set the record in 2013 as hee finished his oomsburg with career in Bloomsburg 361 points. However, Chapla displays st mindset, as a team-first pletely content he is completely ng with holding the record for ock and wants to Slippery Rock put his sole focus on helping ch week. his team each ad “I’m glad the Slippery rd] is over with Rock [record] oo so I’m not too worried about coring record for the PSAC scoring ’m a kicker, I’m just worried ng this team win,” about helping Chapla said.. To add to his impressive olades, Chapla is list of accolades, mong fourth among all active oss any Division players across f in terms of scoring, behind the likes off Chase Vinatieri, whose unclee happens to be legendary National Football FL) kicker Adam League (NFL) nd Vinatieri, and Georgia kicker ankenship. Rodrigo Blankenship. With hiss career goal achieved, Chapla recognizes
October 25, 2019 that it is an honor to be in the same conversation as two NFL
prospects, but insists on one last ambition to achieve in his last season as Slippery Slipperr y Rock’s kicker.. “A national championship, without a doubt,” Chapla said. “I’ll do whatever I can to help this team win it.”
With his team remaining undefeat through seven undefeated a games and the runaway t win the PSACfavorite to d West divisional title, Slippery Rock is making a strong case for a second consecut consecutive appearance in Div the Division II national playoffs. w But what happens when Gre and White play the Green their last snap of the seaso season? N matter which No way we all look it, Cha Chapla will be done putti on a Slippery putting Rock football uniform go Although, that for good. does not necessarily spel the end of his spell care as a kicker, as career ve the veteran has received looks from NFL scouts this season. In Chapla’s eyes, w whatever happens aft the season is after meean to happen. meant “It definitely in “It’s G Go d’ hands,” Chapla God’s said. “Whatever happ happens, happens. I’m getti a great degree getting in accounting ac from this schoo school, so if [the NFL] does pan out for me, doesn’t I have hav that great degree to fall fa back on.” It has been a wildly succ successful four years at Slip Slippery Rock for Jake Ch Chapla and though th twilight has set the u upon his Slippery R Rock career, it is n over yet. The not R Rock still has four rre g u l a r s e a s o n g games to go, and an impending po postseason as well. F From being a recr in high school recruit to being b etched into the history h of Slippery Rock football, Chapla’s time at a SRU will forever be looked lo back on as a mark ma of consistency and excellence. ex
Avoiding the sophomore slump Minda continues to lead Rock by example By Tyler Howe Senior Rocket Contributor
This past week, Jordyn Minda was named the PSAC women’s soccer western division Athlete of the Week, after tallying two goals and two assists in The Rock’s two games last week. Last week Minda continued her impressive stretch of play, as in the last three games The Rock has played, she has had four goals and four assists, totaling 12 points overall. Minda came to Slippery Rock from South Park High School, near Pittsburgh, and had ties at Slippery Rock because her brother, Justin, had played for the men’s soccer team at Slippery Rock. “My brother just graduated last year and he was on the men’s soccer team, so I knew of Slippery Rock and then I just started talking to the coaches. Once I visited, I loved the campus and the team,” Minda said. In high school, Minda was named All-Section and AllWPIAL while she also earned high honors for academics. In her freshman season at Slippery Rock, Minda started every game and was tied for first in points on the team with 16. Minda also led the team in goals with seven and also had
two assists while taking only 21 shots. Because of her play last season, she was named PSAC Freshman of the Year, earned All-Region honors and was a first-team All-PSAC selection last season. “It was really surprising, but also really humbling at the same time, because obviously I couldn’t have done any of that without my team, so that was a really cool experience as a freshman,” Minda said. In her sophomore season, Minda has picked up where she left off last season. Minda has already surpassed or tied most of her totals from last season, including game-winning goals with four. Before the last three games, Minda had only three goals and didn’t have an assist but, now has two more points than she had last season with five games to go. Minda’s four game-winning goals is tied for first in the PSAC with IUP’s Mahogany Willis. Minda is also tied for sixth in the conference with four assists and is tied for fourth in goals with seven. “I’d say that we’re still really close, like it’s a tight knit family, but we have great team chemistry. And not that we didn’t last year, but this year since we’re so close off the field
it translates on the field, because you know everyone is playing for each other and not thems e l v e s ,” said
Minda. This season the Rock has nine more goals and 13 more assists than all of last season, and has as many conference wins as last year’s team. Minda is currently second in points on the team, behind Rachel Edge who has 26 points. Sitting at third on the team is Kayla Swope with 16. The trio of Minda, Edge and Swope have combined for 22 goals, 16 assists and 60 points.The three combined have more goals than nine teams in the PSAC. They all also sit in the top ten for points in the
conference and the trio will still potentially have two years together after this season, as
Minda and Edge are sophomores a n d Swope is a freshman. “I love p l a y ing with [Rachel a n d Kayla]. I think we have a lot of great movement and we’ve combined really well
together. By t h i s
part of the season we’re all comfortable and know each other and what we’re going to do, so I think it’s really fun plaing with those two up top,” Minda said. As of this past Saturday, Minda has played the fifth most minutes (1,017) on the team and has started every game. So far, Minda has taken 35 shots this season and put as many shots on goal as shots she took last season with 21. Edge is the only player with more shots on goal with 26. “I’m not as much focused on keeping my numbers, because we do have a ton of contributors, so I know if I’m not scoring or assisting someone else will be doing that. So I haven’t really been focusing on getting up my assists or getting up my goals, I just want to contribute to the team the best way I can,” Minda said. Minda has shown one of Slippery Rock’s biggest strengths this season in her stretch, as she has those four assists, but has also received an assist on all four goals she’s scored in those games. “I think as a team we’re so selfless and there’s not one
person that’s so selfish that they want to get the goal for themselves. They know whatever is best for the team, if someone’s wide open, but you have a shot you’re going to pass it there, because at the end of the day we want what’s best for the team and we want to win,” Minda said. This past week, not only was Minda named Player of the Week, but goalkeeper Emma Yoder was also named PSAC women’s soccer western division Defensive Athlete of the Week. “I think getting that is also really humbling, it’s my first and also really nice to be named that alongside Emma, because she’s really solid back there and deserves it,” Minda said. The Rock still has five games left in the regular season, and Minda has already tied her total for goals, and surpassed her total for points and assists. “I want to keep my game solid and stayed focused, whether that’s my role of scoring or whatever that is, but as a team the closer we get to playoffs then we’re just that more focused and wanting to win to achieve our ultimate goal making playoffs and winning PSAC’s,” Minda said. KEEGAN BEARD / THE ROCKET
October 25, 2019
H G N I K MA
Y R O T IS GRAPHIC BY KARL LUDWIG
By Karl Ludwig Sports Editor
The last time Rock football started a season so well, the world was completely unrecognizable. Franklin D. Roosevelt was dealing with the rapid escalation of World War II, Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz were premiering in theaters and a gallon of gas cost a dime. Rock head coach Shawn Lutz was not even a twinkle in his parents' eyes — even his predecessor Dr. George Mihalik had not been born yet. N. Kerr Thompson was in his 19th season at the helm of Rock football, coming off a 6-2-1 season. In 1939, Mihalik led The Rock to an 8-0 season and a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference title. SRU went 4-0 in the conference, shutting out Shippensburg, Indiana (Pa.), Edinboro and California (Pa.). The Rock scored 25.5 points per game, which would rank ninth in the PSAC this season, but the defense held opponents to only 2.5 points per game. The 1939 team's 7-0 start, with an eventual eighth win, was unmatched until SRU defeated Edinboro Saturday, 41-30. Even though a few Rock teams in the past have marched to 12-2 or 11-2 records, a combination of losses in the sixth game of the year and/or losses to Division I teams to start the season left SRU without a 7-0 start for 80 years. This season's team has a legitimate shot at continuing its historic run, and here are a few reasons why: Roland Rivers III leads Division II It always starts with the quarterback, and Slippery Rock is no different. Senior quarterback Roland Rivers III started his career last season with The Rock as the thirdstring quarterback behind Andrew Koester and Taylor King after transferring from Valdosta State.
Injuries to Koester and King led to Rivers being handed his first start in Week 3 against Millersville. 126 yards in the air, 40 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns in the air and on the ground led to a 5710 victory. He never looked back. He finished the season with 2,721 passing yards, 597 rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns. The Rock swept the PSACWest, and despite a loss to West Chester in the PSAC title game, advanced to the NCAA playoffs, making it to the quarterfinals. This season, Rivers has emerged as a leading candidate for the Harlon Hill Award. Through seven games, the senior from Ellenwood, Georgia leads Division II in passing efficiency (200.30), passing touchdowns (25) and points responsible for (186). He ranks third in completion percentage (74.8) and fourth in passing yards (2,191). Rivers leads the thirdhighest scoring offense in Division II, lighting up the scoreboard with over 50 points per game. While Rivers would obviously like to win the national championship, and a PSAC title, of course, he isn't letting it become an obsession. In an interview with The Rocket in Sept., Rivers dismissed the notion of a "championship or bust" cloud hanging over the team and said this season would be accountability and discipline or bust heading forward. "I know I mentioned that earlier in the year about being championship or bust, but with the talent we have on this team, we know that anything less than a championship, we can’t blame on talent. We can’t say, ‘if we had one more player, if we had this guy.’ That’s not the case this season," Rivers said. Super trio leads PSAC A couple of the men Rivers would give a lot of
his credit to, Slippery Rock boasts a few of the best receivers in program history. Juniors Henry Litwin and Jermaine Wynn, Jr., along with Seton Hill transfer Cinque Sweeting, blossomed as the best wide receiver trio in the PSAC. The duo of Litwin and Wynn rank in the top four in the PSAC in receptions, receiving yards, touchdown receptions and yards per game. Wynn leads SRU in receiving yards with 674 while ranking second in receptions (42) and touchdowns (8). Litwin leads SRU with 46 catches and nine touchdowns while his 640 receiving yards are second behind Wynn. In an interview with The Rocket in Sept., Wynn touched on the fact that he and Litwin tend to trade off touchdowns during games. Their near-identical stats through seven games this season, and their entire careers at SRU, validate that. “When [Litwin] makes a play, it drives me to want to make a play,” Wynn said. “We feed off each other’s energy and we’re always trying to one-up each other. That’s what pushes me to be great and that’s what pushes him to keep trying to be great.” The trio of Litwin, Wynn and Sweeting has become the best in all of Division II football, as well, as all three average at least 74 receiving yards per game. Offensive balance In the first three games of the season, Rivers, Litwin, Wynn and co. led a highpowered offense with mind-numbing passing numbers. But the ground game never seemed to be able to get going. Former Rock running back Wes Hills seemed to be missed, and the offensive line just wasn't making those holes for transfer running back Charles Snorweah. With 1,193 passing yards and 436 rushing yards through three weeks, it was clear where the
strength of the offense was. Rivers jumped out to a fast start for the Harlon Hill while still leading SRU in rushing. Over the next three games, including a pivotal PSACWest matchup against archrival Indiana (Pa.), SRU's offense miraculously leveled out. With 640 rushing yards to 683 passing yards, SRU's high-powered offense kept rolling against Seton Hill, Mercyhurst and IUP. And Charles Snorweah finally broke out for a 100-yard day on the ground. Lutz credited his veteran offensive line and a resurgence from a hardnosed Snorweah to the run game finally breaking out. Against Edinboro Saturday, Rivers was once again prolific through the air, throwing for 391 yards, but Snorweah still rushed for 73 yards at 6.1 yards per carry. Five rushing touchdowns from Snorweah, Rivers, Sweeting and junior running back DeSean Dinkins were the difference in the game. While SRU's passing offense still commands immense respect from opposing defense, possibly a reason why the run game has exploded in recent weeks, the running offense has risen to third in the conference. SRU has shown the ability to win the game with Rivers' hands and Snorweah, Dinkins and Rivers' feet. Getting into the opponent's backfield When a program boasts the leading sack artist in college football history, across all divisions, the ability to get to the opposing quarterback is expected. Junior defensive end Chad Kuhn might not reach Marcus Martin level sack totals this season, but he's still leading the PSAC in sacks with 7.5. After allowing 37 points to Wayne State in Week 1, the leaders on the defense expressed how their performance wasn't nearly good enough and the work that went into correcting the
lapses. Kuhn outlined how he approaches practice every day to improve for games each week. "[We need to] get 1% better every day," Kuhn said. "[We] just find something to go out there to practice and focus on every day." The defense rebounded with four straight performances of less than 20 points allowed before IUP dropped 42 on them and Edinboro followed up with 30. However, the 22.3 points allowed per game still ranks sixth in the conference. According to Lutz, the best front seven in the conference allows the defense to impose its will on opponents. Defensive ends Kuhn and Garrett de Bien, along with star linebacker Brad Zaffram, form a trio that consistently disrupts play in the backfield. Kuhn leads the conference in sacks while ranking third in tackles for loss (10.5) and Zaffram leads the conference in tackles for loss with 13. Stout run defense The game against Wayne State was a high-scoring, high-octane showing for both teams' offenses. According to Zaffram, the game effectively served as a slap in the face of the defense. For a defense that allowed only 21.21 points per game and was one of the best in the country against opposing quarterbacks, allowing 37 points and 500 yards offense woke up a group that was full of itself, Zaffram said. After allowing 248 yards on the ground to Wayne State, the Rock defense limited opponents to 295 yards over the next six games. SRU is allowing only 77.6 yards per game on the ground, good for second in the conference. With only 543 yards allowed on 207 carries, opponents are only picking up 2.6 yards per carry. Veteran experience After last season's loss to Notre Dame (Oh.) in the NCAA quarterfinals, Lutz said this season's team, full
of players from last year, still uses that game as motivation. After returning nearly the entire team, besides Hills, linemen Steve Gaviglia and Colten Raabe and defensive back Kyle Hall, Slippery Rock boasts one of the most experienced teams in the country. Despite the loss of junior linebacker Trysten McDonald to an ACL injury, the veteran defense features eight players with at least 17 starts. The offense features three offensive linemen with at least 20 starts and Rivers has started in 19 straight games. This group hasn't lost a PSAC-West game in over two years now, dating back to Oct. 21, 2017, a 49-39 loss to Edinboro. Despite a sparkling division record over the past two seasons, and losses to only Shippensburg, West Chester and Notre Dame during that time, Rivers approached the offseason like Slippery Rock hadn't won a single game last season. “We knew that we had to be better as an offense and guys took that approach this summer with everything we did in the weight room … the team as a whole knew that we left plays out there on that field and that we were a few plays away from competing for the national championship,” Rivers said. With a couple more wins, Slippery Rock will be right back in the PSAC championship game again. If the season were to end today, SRU would play Kutztown. With wins over Clarion, California (Pa.) and Gannon, Slippery Rock would improve to 10-0, which would be the best record in program history. While the excitement and hype around the team has never been higher, Lutz knows one bad game could realistically end their season. A loss to California and Kutztown, he said, would leave Slippery Rock at 9-2, with a possibility of missing out on the national playoffs. Like Rivers always says: just one play at a time, one game at a time.
October 25, 2019
Rock slips by Edinboro Five rushing touchdowns leads Rock past the Fighting Scots By Zack Bonnette Asst. Sports Editor
The Slippery Rock University football team overcame their fair share of inconsistencies Saturday as they defeated Edinboro by a score of 41-30 to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 1939. With the win, The Rock retains sole possession of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division. As for Edinboro, the loss keeps them in the cellar of the PSAC west, falling to a 1-6 overall record and 1-3 in conference play. Coming off an emotional homecoming win against bitter rival Indiana (Pa.) just a week earlier, the Green and White were victims of a slow start in Saturday’s contest. Despite averaging 17.3 points in the first quarter this season, Slippery Rock’s only score of the quarter would come on a three-yard rushing touchdown, courtesy of senior quarterback, Roland Rivers III. After 15 minutes of play, The Rock found themselves trailing the Fighting Scots 10-7. Slippery Rock was able to find a rhythm in the second quarter however, scoring a touchdown on each of their first three possessions. Leading his team on a 10 play, 84yard drive Rivers and his offense chipped away at Edinboro’s defense until senior running back Charles Snorweah scored on a twoyard rushing touchdown, giving The Rock a 14-10 advantage. After Edinboro responded with a quick touchdown, SRU answered on offense and took less
KEEGAN BEARD / THE ROCKET
Senior quarterback Roland Rivers III attempts a pass to Jermaine Wynn, Jr. against IUP at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium on Oct. 12.
than three minutes of regulation time to march down the field and strike once again. After Rivers and Snorweah connected on a 27-yard pass to put The Rock on Edinboro’s 10-yard line, junior running back DeSean Dinkins gashed the Fighting Scots defense once again for a 10-yard rushing touchdown.
On the following drive, Slippery Rock’s defense stood tall and forced Edinboro to punt, giving Rivers and the offense one more chance to score before halftime. Starting at their own fiveyard line, Slippery Rock’s offense put together one of their most impressive drives of the season. After
the offense went from one end of the field to the other, Snorweah produced once again near the goal line, rushing for his second touchdown of the day. The touchdown would give The Rock a 27-17 lead going into halftime. Although the second quarter served as a sigh of relief for The Rock, the
third quarter was far from productive. The Green and White turned the ball over on the first series and went on to take a game’s worth of penalties in 15 minutes, accumulating six penalties for 70 yards. The Green and White were ultimately unable to get any sort of offensive production in the third quarter, which
allowed for Edinboro to creep back into the game. Heading into the fourth quarter, Slippery Rock clung to a 27-23 lead With an undefeated season on the line, SRU rose to the occasion and were able to put the game away. The Rock used their first two drives of the quarter to pull away from Edinboro for good, scoring touchdowns on both occasions. With under seven minutes to play, the Green and White had extended their lead to 4123. With the outcome of the game already virtually decided, Edinboro was able to tack on one last touchdown before receiving their sixth loss of the season. Notable results from Saturday’s game include the impressive performance of the offense. SRU amassed 540 total yards, with 391 coming through the air and 149 coming on the ground. Rivers continued his case as a Harlon Hill trophy contender, accounting for 415 yards of offense and two total touchdowns. It is the third time in seven games where Rivers has surpassed the 400-yard mark of total offense this season. Redshirt junior receiver Henry Litwin had a career day as well, as he caught a career-high 13 passes for 131 and a touchdown. As for the running game, Snorweah garnered 73 yards and two rushing touchdowns on just 12 carries before leaving the game early in the third quarter. The Green and White returns home to MihalikThompson stadium Saturday to take on Clarion at 1 p.m. At halftime, former and current responders alike, as well as veterans and active duty military members will be honored.
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Drag Show Promotes Pride Week At WSRU-TV News
Drag and Expression Drag Queens 'Rock' the stage to celebrate Pride Week
KEEGAN BEARD / THE ROCKET
Angelique Young starts off the night and performs her first set of the night to an excited crowd. Young was also the host of the show and has been for six consecutive years.
By Hope Hoehler Campus Life Editor
“It’s really difficult because I spent the first five or six years of my life on a stage as a woman and then I was living as a man,” Angelique Young, drag show host and queen, said. Young has been the h o s t o f R o c k O U T ’s annual drag show for six consecutive years. She first got involved with drag when she visited a club in Pittsburgh during her college years. Young said that was one of her first experiences with drag queens and she thought ‘oh my God this is awesome.’ “I was like, I can do that,” Young said. “I went to the Halloween store, bought an angel costume and a pair of heels and was like ‘I’m a drag queen, hi’ and I thought that I was the shit.” Yo u n g h o s t e d t h e night, telling stories,
answering questions and introducing her fellow drag queens. Along Yo u n g , t h r e e o t h e r queens performed, one of them being an SRU Alumni. Jade Uzumaki, Phoenix Fatale and Silver Uzumaki, mother of Jade, were among the other drag queen performers at the event in celebration of Pride Week. RockOUT’s President Frankie Walker, a junior public relations major, said that it’s important for the community to have a big celebration throughout the week. “I celebrate Pride Week every week of my life,” Walker said. Similar to Walker, Yo u n g emphasized celebrating little things that happened in life, which led her to see silver linings during her transition. Although, Young was not as entirely successful as she would have hoped in her first pagent, placing fourth. She returned to the
pagent the following year and has won every pagent she’s been in since then. “If you fail the first time, don’t give up,” Young said. “The chances are, if you keep doing it, you’ll be better than most people.” S i m i l a r t o Yo u n g , Phoeniz Fatale, an SRU alumni and a coach of SRU cheer, emphasized the importance of finding your worth. During the Q&A s e s s i o n , Fa t a l e g a v e students advice on how to focus on what makes them happy. “Focus on what you can do to improve yourself,” Fatale said. “If you learn to love yourself then other people can learn to love you.” A similar theme about loving yourself and your image emerged during the Q&A session as Silver Uzumaki told a story about how she sometimes would go to the grocery store with blind contacts and
draw on cat whiskers because she felt like being a cat that day. “Be y o u r s e l f,” Uzumaki said. “When you look in the mirror and are happy with y o u r s e l f, n o o n e c a n take that away from you.” A unique factor was a d d e d t o Uz u m a k i’s performance when she said she wanted to be introduced as “Voldemort’s girlfriend, from the fiery pits of hell and mother of all ghouls.” Fi n d i n g t h e i r l o o k d i d n’t a l w a y s c o m e easy to the queens. Jade Uzumaki, daughter of Silver, has been doing drag for about 10 months and originally wanted to be a pretty drag queen and do pageants. However, she said that came to end when she learned she couldn’t dance. Inspiration struck w h e n Ja d e U z u m a k i took a trip to
Colombus, Ohio which has an alternative drag scene. “I realized that I loved alternative drag,” Jade Uzumaki said. “I love being death, spooky and pretty.” Jade Uzumaki said that when she tells people her name, the reference is always to Naruto, however she claims that aside from the clips on YouTube she has never watched anime just found her way in a anime family. Similar to Jade Uzumaki, Phoenix has a childhood story that helped to shape her drag persona. When Britney Spears first came out with Oops I Did it Again, Phoenix watched the video over and over again until it broke. “I think that’s when Phoenix was born,” she said. Phoenix started doing drag about five and half years ago but had entered the drag scene
as a backup dancer for her friends that were queens when she was 18 and has grown close to her group of friends in the gay community. “Surround yourself with a good group of friends that you feel 100% yourself around,” Phoenix said. “Whenever you feel yourself, and you’re being yourself then you can express yourself and not feel judgment from people.” President of RockOUT, Walker, said that the club is a sanctuary for anyone, and students don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ+ community to join it. All four queens t h a t p e r f o r m e d we re enthusiastically welcomed by the audience. Young, hopes to come back to the drag show next year to host and perform again. “ I l ov e i t ,” Yo u n g said. “I’m very happy. It changed my entire lifestyle this year and I’ve never been happier.”
KEEGAN BEARD / THE ROCKET
Silver Uzamaki, one of the drag queens at the show, stops to pose in the middle of her first performance. Uzamaki bases her look off death and gets her clothes from thrift stores.
October 25, 2019
Grata showcases pride week artwork Freshman LGBTQ+ artist creates artwork for Arts Fest By Hope Hoehler Campus Life Editor
Artwork representing p g the LGBT+ communityy was displayed p y Tuesdayy duringg the Arts Fest as part of Pride Week. The artwork shown was created byy members of the LGBTQ+ communityy and Marian Grata, a freshman art major with a concentration in ggraphic p design g showed her pieces at the event. Grata had three pieces for the campus community to see. Two of the p pieces were previouslyy created and p portrayed p y dragg qqueens, while the third piece p was inspired p byy Taylor y Swift’s music video “You Need to Calm Down,” which is about the LGBTQ+ community. y “It’s somethingg that I had become interested in,” Grata said. “Since I am artistic, I wanted to display p y dragg queens q since they are very artistic in themselves.” The concept p of dragg qqueens is well-known to Grata, theyy know a dragg qqueen through g a mutual friend and asked to paint them. “I wanted to paint a local queen rather
than someone who w a s s u p e r f a m o u s ,” G r a t a s a i d . “ S h e ’s more relatable and like anyy normal p person. I wanted to share her and gget people to know her.” Gr a t a’s i n s p i r a t i o n comes from being involved with the LGBTQ+ community. y They get ideas by scrollingg through g their p h o n e a n d f o l l ow i n g the LGBT+ community online. “Most of myy artwork is a force and expression p of myself,” y Grata said. “I like to p put down what I enjoy. j y Normallyy I would paint and draw the things p that I like.” Though, g this is not the first time that people have seen Grata’s artwork. Theyy did art shows in high g school. Grata won a n a w a rd a t a j u r i e d show for their bigg dragg qqueen p piece, the first dragg qqueen that Grata had drawn. “ I ’m v e r y p r o u d o f t h a t ,” Gr a t a s a i d . “It was myy first dragg qqueen and is probably p y one of my best pieces to date.” Grata felt that the Arts Fest wasn’t jjust an art show, theyy saw it in an e n t i re l y n e w c o n t e x t
w i t h t h e LG BTQ + theme and felt happy ppy to have their artwork displayed p y in that way. y “For this Arts Fest, it was a special p category g y of what I liked,” Grata s a i d . “ It f o c u s e d o n LGBTQ+ and I reallyy like that as an outlet. Normallyy I’ve p painted drag queens before and no one gets it. This I really liked, because people p p actuallyy understood it more and could appreciate pp it in a different sense.” The feedback on Grata’s work has been positive so far. Theyy p said people usually appreciate pp p the details and tell them how ggood or cool their p piece is. As a freshman, Grata said that theyy are jjust beginning g g to gget involved and hasn’t been involved in anyy LGBT+ organizations g before RockOUT. Grata was glad g that theyy were able to submit artwork to the Arts Fest, because theyy know that there wasn’t a lot submitted. “I’m reallyy gglad that I was able to submit s o m e t h i n g s ,” Gr a t a said. “I want to keep p beingg involved in the future because I think we need that.” p to keep p Grata hopes contributing to RockOUT and
HANNAH SLOPE / THE ROCKET
The Women's Center and the Pride Center taped the main stairs in the student center to help celebrate Pride Week. The stairs follow the colors of the LGTBQ flag.
the LGBTQ+ communityy in the future, with hopes p to work on another piece to be displayed next yyear. “I’m reallyy gglad that I was able to do this, be a
p part and contribute to it,” Grata said. “It means a lot. To see what it’s like, I definitelyy want to keep p doing this in the future.”
To follow RockOUT and their events and meetings, follow t h e m o n Tw i t t e r @ SRUrockOUT and on Instagram @srurockout.
RockOUT promotes inclusion with Acceptance Day Event helps to close out Pride Week and allows other organizations to support Numerous on-campus clubs and organizations represented themselves and showed their support for Slippery Rock University’s LGBTQ+ community on Thursday, joining RockOUT in the quad for Acceptance Day during common hour. Like each other held this Pride Week, the event was a way to encourage the student and community body to be inclusive of everybody, regardless of one’s sexual orientation. RockOUT president Frankie Walker, a junior integrated marketing communications major, said it helped serve as a reminder that, for whoever is struggling with their sense of identity, there are resources to help. Multiple organizations showed up in cooperation with the event, including students with the recreational therapy program, the Green and White Society, the Student Non-Profit Alliance and Healthy Outreach through Peer Education (HOPE).
“It pleasantly surprises me that there are so many other organizations that are not even LGBTQ+- related that do come out to support us,” Walker said. Enjoying the first week as SRU Pride and Women’s Center Director, Dr. Lyosha Gorshkov stressed the week and month assist in a cause driven by acceptance. Gorshkov added that, due to the conservative nature of the area, the work for this cause is especially important here. “We celebrate not only the people who have come out and moved forward with their identities, but we’ve also tried to raise awareness for other people who are not friendly with the LGBTQ+ community to accept,” Gorshkov said. With Best Buddies, sophomore Sarah Bonner shared a similar sentiment. “This is a club that promotes inclusion for people with disabilities, so we thought it would be good to attend a pride event,” Bonner, a psychology major, said. “I think events like these are a good start just to gain awareness of people’s differences and just accepting everybody for they are.” Gorshkov feels that acceptance shouldn’t be
limited to set dates and events. “I wish we could have every single day as a day of acceptance, because we designate particular days to try to ostracize and marginalize ourselves,” Gorshkov said. “It’s very important to celebrate, but, at the same time, we have to [accept] every single day, 365 days a year.” Gorshkov also commended Slippery Rock University for allowing and promoting events of support on its campus, noting that some nearby postsecondary institutions do not do the same. “Open your eyes and see that people are different,” Gorshkov said in regard to these universities. “We cannot all be generalized and be the same. You have students, I’m sure, who are different. Universities and colleges should move towards that goal [of acceptance]. If you cannot do that, do not educate.” Pride Week as a whole, Walker feels, was a success. He also mentioned that the drag show was one of the most popular in recent memory. "Overall, I just think [this week] was a really good reflection of this campus and the LGBT people on it,” Walker said.
time, deathly afraid of it as well. With clubs and organizations constantly coming in and out of my classes, it was a bit overwhelming to pinpoint where I could start. Will I enjoy what I do in this club or organization? Will I fit in? If I don’t join now, will it be too late to do it next semester, or even next year? Now as a senior, I reminisce upon that time and wonder why I overthought it so much. Take it from me, whether you are a freshman or a senior, it is never too late to get involved. Until the spring semester of my sophomore year, I was never formally involved on campus. A few of my friends recognized my love for sports and suggested that I join The Rocket to contribute to the sports section. And when I finally did, the rest was history. In my past three semesters, I was
able to cover just about every sport on campus, talk to coaches, athletes and meet some amazing people along the way. And now, I am part of the staff and would not trade it for anything in the world. Obviously, I had the pleasure of joining Lambda Pi Eta as well in my junior year, which has helped to push me out of my comfort zone, even in my last year of college. With over 160 registered student organizations at Slippery Rock University, there is no shortage of opportunity to make an impact on this campus. Don’t be ashamed to try things out and get outside your comfort zone because you truly don’t know what you like or where your passion might be until you try it. I can guarantee every single person in every one of these clubs and organizations wantsnothing but the best
for you and will welcome you with open arms. Possibly one of the biggest perks of all is the fact that joining these clubs and organizations can help to strengthen your resume. No matter which area you decide to get involved in, it will be nothing but beneficial to show employers how you were willing to get involved on campus and what experience it has ultimately brought you. The possibilities are truly endless once you push yourself to get involved, all you need to do is believe in yourself and see where your passions take you. I will forever be thankful of my time with The Rocket and Lambda Pi Eta, as they have provided so many opportunities that I never knew existed. Tap into that potential, believe in yourself and you will undoubtedly make the most out of your time here at Slippery Rock.
By Brendan Howe Asst. Campus Life Editor
KEEGAN BEARD / THE ROCKET
Multiple organizations came together at Acceptance Day in support of the LGBT community Thursday. The event also worked as a way for these clubs to promote themselves.
If there is one thing that every college student has in common with their busy lives, it would be that we all want to put ourselves in the best
position to succeed in the future. As redundant and cliché as this may seem, getting involved on campus is the best favor that you can do for
yourself as you strive for that goal. I came into Slippery Rock University as a freshman feeling optimistic for the future but at the same
October 25, 2019
LGBTQ+: Rememberance and homage RockOUT kicks off Pride Week by honoring LGBTQ+ community members
KEEGAN BEARD/ THE ROCKET
President of RockOUT Frankie Walker, gives opening remarks at the candle lit vigil to honor those of the LGBTQ+ community that have lost their lives. Walker holds his lit candle while introducing the event to those in attendance.
By Brendan Howe Asst. Campus Life Editor
RockOUT held a candlelight vigil Monday night in homage to members of the LGBTQ+ community who has lost their lives in the struggle for equal rights. Before a moment of silence, Frankie Walker, the organization’s president, read an ode to the victims of 2016’s Orlando nightclub shooting. Acts of violence such as that, in which 49 people were killed, and a high rate of suicides within the community were reasons the vigil was organized. “It’s important to start the week off, before the fun and everything, just to remember the struggle that we’ve had to go through to get here,” said Walker, a junior public relations major. “And it’s nice for everyone to get together in an intimate environment so everyone can remember and know that there are people here for them if they need that.” Like Walker, students and faculty attended in support of the LGBTQ+ community and remembrance of members. “LGBTQ+ people are hated against,” said Desolina Valenti,
a junior cultural studies major. “So it’s big to honor those who have lost their lives in the fight to try to bring equality.” Some attendees had personal experiences with the death of a loved one, making the event all the more important for them. “To me personally, I’ve known people who have passed and it’s humbling that so many people have come and gone before me to allow our school to have events like this,” Walker said. “This event really means a lot to me,” senior Caitlin Chavez said. “I’ve lost a lot of friends in the LGBTQ+ community due to suicide and it’s just a good way to honor them.” Chavez, a social work major and animal-assisted interventions minor, also serves as the vice president on RockOUT’s executive board. She touched upon how the gay community sometimes doesn’t feel fully accepted in society, explaining also that she lost a friend shortly after he came out to friends and family last year. “We don’t have the privilege to just be accepted or feel comfortable in our skin, being part of the LGBTQ+
community,” Chavez said. “But this week kind of highlights the moments of being proud of and accepting who you are and motivating people to stay hopeful and positive.” Chavez also offered advice for students thinking or wondering how to come out. “Be patient,” Chavez said. “You’ll know when you’re ready. Don’t let anyone else push you. And also be positive, even if it starts out on the wrong foot, every foot forward is a foot forward.” Also included in the Pride Week festivities was the Arts Fest in the lobby of the Smith Student Center Tuesday, which displayed pieces made by or for members of the LGBTQ+ community. RockOUT then paired up with the Pride Center to hold a “Gay Jeopardy” on Tuesday night. The Drag Show, the most popular event of the week, will be held at 8 p.m. in the Smith Student Center ballroom Wednesday evening. During common hour Thursday, Acceptance Day, in which other clubs and organization come together in support of the community, will be held in the quad.
KEEGAN BEARD/ THE ROCKET
A student in attendence at the vigil cups her candle to keep it safe from the wind while honoring those lost in the LGBTQ+ community.
Live Your Best Life,
GRAPHIC BY HOPE HOEHLER
By Mallory Angelucci Senior Rocket Contributor
Reflecting on everyone and everything around us is an important part of life that allows for a deeper understanding of others, regardless of if these things personally affect you. As we reflect on aspects of the LGBTQ+ community, music is a great way to gain insight to the ups and downs of the struggles and celebrations. Of the many advocates and ar tists belonging to this powerful c o m m u n i t y, Fr e d d i e Mercury serves as one of the most influential. Throughout his career, he exuded his sexuality despite the struggles that sometimes plagued him. The song by Queen, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, is the band’s tip of a sequined hat to these hardships as Mercury sings, “I feel alive and the world I’ll
turn it inside out, so d o n’t s t o p m e n ow.” This song is a reminder to keep things light and enjoy the music of life t h ro u g h t h e d i f f i c u l t times that may bring you down. Elton John’s iconic status has strengthened ove r h i s m a n y ye a r s of music making. The reasons for this are shown through his music and lasting advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, as he is a part of it. His song, “Elton’s Song”, is one of realization as he comes to terms with situations in life. Lines like “If you only knew what I’m going through” and “I would give my life for a single night b e s i d e y o u” i n d i c a t e grand gestures and bold statements that stem from the shedding of light on aspects of his life like love and personal strife that he has overcome with time. Lady Gaga is known as one of the most present LGBTQ+ icons. As a highly active advocate f o r t h e c o m m u n i t y,
Gaga has proven to be deserving of this title. Her spirited music celebrates living life the way that makes you happy, no matter what others think. Her songs“Born This Way” and “Edge of Glor y” inspire self love as well as a positive outlook on love across all people. A more recent display of the LGBTQ+ community being active in music comes from One Direction member Harry Styles. After a long journey following his discovery o f s e x u a l i t y, h i s s i n g l e “ L i g h t s U p” is a celebration of a longawaited era of love in life. This inspiring t u n e p re a c h e s t o i t s audience to see the best parts of others as well as the truth that l a y s b e h i n d d i f f e re n t parts of yourself. Styles encourages everyone to see through the dark, to turn the lights on and see the love that exists ever ywhere and to spread it to everyone whenever possible.
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