The Office for Social Justice and Diversity hosted a Safe Space training seminar on Wednesday, Feb. 23 in the Student Center Ballrooms to ensure a positive and inclusive lifestyle for Montclair State University students inside and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Attendees participated in writing their names and pronouns on a name tag and answered reflective questions to understand what life is like for people within the LGBTQ+ community today, in addition to identifying what language is supportive or hurtful toward them.
Both students and faculty were welcomed at the event. Their ideas and experiences were meant to be brought up in a positive, educational manner.
Blaine Doerflein, a fifth-year graduate student in English education, explained their feelings about the seminar.
“It is incredibly important to have training like this because many are unaware of the various struggles we have to deal with,” Doerflein said. “Being a part of the LGBTQ community, myself, when my partner and I go out every day, we wonder, ‘Are we going to be attacked today because of our identities?'”
Sara Duricko, a senior psychology major, voiced her opinion on the Safe Space training and how it served as the foundation for what she wants to pursue in her future career.
“Personally, I feel it is extremely necessary to learn about the community to show people in it what’s right and wrong to say,” Duricko said. “It’s important to get a sense of the proper communication found in a seminar like this one. I plan on becoming a therapist, and knowing the right formats of communication will certainly allow me to connect with many LGBTQ members thoroughly and smoothly.”
After the seminar was complete, attendees signed a sheet pledging to be active allies toward the LGBTQ+ community and received a Safe Space oriented pin and sticker to show others what they had learned in the seminar.
Jean Moreno-Lassalle, an instructional designer for the university’s Instructional Technology and Design Services (ITDS), explained how beneficial it was to attend the seminar.
“In our ITDS department in University Hall, [there was] nobody left who was Safe Space trained,” Moreno-Lassalle said. “And as a member of the LGBTQ community, with this training I can be congenial to others in the workspace [and use] the valuable lessons from it.”
Brie Krug, the coordinator of evening events and facilities at the Student Recreation Center, connected the seminar to her job.
“I am very excited to be here [and] help support my students [in finding] ways to interact with others safely and get a sense of the best ways to build connections with one another,” Krug said. “And this training does just that.”
Ebony Jackson, the assistant director of the Office for Social Justice and Diversity, and Warren Rigby, the student coordinator, both presented various ideas and perspectives to those within the LGBTQ+ community and shared how people outside of it can support them as well. They also gave their opinion on what the Safe Space training encompasses.
“Many times, what I get [out of this] is that I’m able to hear different experiences, whether or not they identify with the community,” Jackson said. “And having the support for these essential topics shows what a strong society can be made of.”
Rigby explained what he hopes to achieve by offering Safe Space training.
“Education on these topics is very important, and there are different generations of people in this room who lived under changing rules in their lifetimes,” Rigby said. “It gives perspective of how those different kinds of people come together in the present moment to create a stronger community that’s well fit for the future.”