The National Residence Hall Honorary awarded McDavid Hall Coordinator Joe Kelley with its "Diversity Program of the Month" national award for his program "Walk a Mile."
"This program originated when Joe Kelley wanted to simulate the process of coming out for straight individuals who will never go through that process," the website stated. "He wanted to help people understand how difficult coming out really is."
In the program, Kelley simulated the coming out process by having residents write down the 16 most important aspects of their lives. He then asked each student to crumble up three things they believe they could lose if they came out as LGBTQ. He then had them crumble three more pieces at random, to show that LGBTQ individuals often lose more than they expected when they come out. From one student, he took every sheet of paper, symbolizing a student who commits suicide because of the coming out process. He ended the session by having the students share personal stories and ask questions.
"Although there were several people at the event with friends who had already come out to them, there were also people who had never had an LGBTQ friend," Kelley said on the website. "These people were the ones we wanted to reach the most, and I definitely feel like the event was successful. Since each person had people, possessions, roles and activities that were very important to them taken away, it seems likely that everyone who attended will be more understanding of the coming out process when they encounter it later in life."
Look for more coverage from The Maneater on Kelley's award and program soon.