Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

LGBTQ Group Seeks Recognition at Catholic University of America

A year after Georgetown responded to two alleged hate crimes against students by opening the LGBTQ Resource Center – the first of its kind at a U.S. Jesuit institution – a group for LGBTQ students and allies at The Catholic University of America is struggling to attain recognition from the administration.

CUAllies, a group offering support and advocacy for Catholic University’s LGBTQ community, was denied official organization status in early August, according to a CUAllies press release. The university claimed that an adequate support structure for LGBTQ students already existed on campus.
Representatives of CUAllies said official status would do much for the LGBTQ community on Catholic University’s campus.

“If recognized by the university, [the organization] would be able to provide a publicized, safe place for GLBTQ students on campus. [We] would also be able to receive funding from the university, meet on campus and publicize on campus,” said Kelly Wilson, a graduate student at Catholic University, and Robby Diesu, a senior, on behalf of the group in an e-mail.

Wilson and Diesu said CUAllies hopes that the recognition of the group will provide a safer and more tolerant atmosphere for the university’s LGBTQ community.

“[We] actively reach out to GLBTQ students and their straight allies so that these students know [who] the safe people are on campus. Prior to CUAllies, many GLBTQ students needed to tiptoe around in order to find out who are the safe students, staff and faculty. By creating a community, we are a visible resource for students who need a safe place,” Wilson and Diesu said.

In spite of the administration’s failure to recognize CUAllies, the group has been successful as an unofficial organization.

“We’ve had an amazing student response from the GLBTQ community and student allies,” said Lauren Crook, a senior at Catholic University and a member of CUAllies.

Crook said CUAllies regularly attracts about 40 students to its meetings. “We’re one of the largest active student groups. . We’ve been getting a really positive response.”

“We . create an open and confidential atmosphere at our weekly meetings so students know they can come and discuss GLBTQ issues without being judged or gossiped about. We are also educating the community about hate crimes and making sure that hate crimes directed toward GLBTQ students are being referred to the proper systems of support on campus,” Wilson and Diesu said. “The goal of all of this is to create a safe and welcoming environment where GLBTQ students do not have to return to the closet in order to feel safe and be accepted at [Catholic University].”

Wilson and Diesu said CUAllies e-mails 175 university officials and members of the campus ministry every Wednesday with one personal account to represent conditions for LGBTQ students at Catholic University.

David Freerksen, a junior at Catholic University and a member of CUAllies, said the problem with the university has not been outright disapproval, but indifference.

“From the group’s perspective, we wouldn’t describe [the university’s position] as hostile, but we would say it’s been at best apathetic,” Freerksen said. “The university doesn’t seem concerned with the safety of students.”

CUAllies plans to act as though recognized by the university until it actually is, representatives of the group said.

The presence of the LGBTQ community at Georgetown was strengthened when the LGBTQ Resource Center, opened in August 2008. The center and GU Pride, the primary LGBTQ student group at Georgetown, serve a similar purpose as CUAllies.

“The LGBTQ Resource Center has been here for just over a year; and we have worked very hard with the entire campus community at all levels for a better Hilltop experience for all our students,” said Shiva Subbaraman, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center.”

More to Discover