TriCo members brainstorm at semester’s first meeting

Turnout increased compared to meetings in the last academic year.

The Triangle Coalition held its first meeting of the academic year Tuesday at the Center for Social Justice to discuss its ideas for upcoming events and give prospective members an opportunity to suggest social events for the year.

The prospect of visiting Gay Straight Alliances at local high schools generated the most enthusiasm from the participants in attendance, which consisted of both upperclassmen and underclassmen. Freshman Francesca Pelusi said she started a GSA at her high school and thinks it is beneficial for organizations like TriCo to be available on campus.

"It's important to be involved in something like this," she said. "Before I came to the meeting, I expected a safe space for me to enjoy myself and be myself."

Activism was the overriding theme throughout the meeting as the TriCo executive board members discussed the possibility of sponsoring events with the Residence Halls Association.

Although the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Resource Center does not sponsor TriCo, two programs sponsored by the center provide opportunities for people to learn about LGBTQ issues in order to educate others.

Outreach is a program through which LGBTQ students can share their coming out stories and attend classes to educate themselves about LGBTQ issues. Safe Space allows people to become trainers who are taught how to provide support for people seeking advice or counsel.

Pelusi said conversation is an important step toward gaining awareness of LGBTQ issues and avoiding prejudices.

"Understanding through conversation trumps stereotypes," she said. "It's important to expect someone to be understanding."

Members mentioned participating in events that concern body issues, domestic violence within gay and lesbian relationships and suicide in the LGBTQ community.

Treasurer Emily Luft said TriCo once formed a circle around Brother Jed during the National Day of Silence event in order to block out his messages against the LGBTQ community. The group promotes quiet confrontation when advocating LGBTQ issues and said communication is important for awareness.

An increase in communication with religious groups on campus was also suggested when participants discussed the possibility of talking to the Baptist Student Union about hosting social and formal events.

Events with other religious organizations on campus would allow both communities to understand each other better and increase communication and awareness of both groups.

TriCo Vice President Allison Braun said the turnout was encouraging.

"A lot of people showed up tonight," she said. "It shows we're becoming more visible on campus."

Braun said TriCo is an important group for LGBTQ undergraduate students on campus to feel comfortable and safe.

"Even if they don't join TriCo, at least they know that there is a place they can go to," she said.

TriCo, which is meant to provide a positive environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning undergraduates and their supporters, emphasizes the idea of a safe space. To TriCo, maintaining a safe space means giving respect to everyone at all times, keeping discussions exclusively in the group and assuming goodwill.

Luft said having a safe space is beneficial for students who want to be themselves and feel respected.

"I think you have so many different lives as a college student," she said. "It's important to have a space you can come to that makes people feel more centered and safe on an overwhelming campus."

Luft said the group receives financial support from the Diversity Fee and is affiliated with Allies in Actions and Queer People of Color.

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