Campus Club grows in number, pushes community to get involved through new advocacy projects
McDaniel Allies has grown immensely this semester, both in numbers and ambition. This group is for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and their straight allies to provide a forum for discussion and a system of support while promoting awareness of important issues that surround the GLBT community.
“We’ve reached out to campus on a completely different level. Last year…it was more about camaraderie, simply because all the other members were just really good friends…but this year, when [senior] Pamela Knopp and I were elected to run the gang, we wanted to also incorporate advocacy projects and education,” said co-president Masha Makhlagina, a junior. “We’re really striving to provide all our members with the tools and experience that will allow them to go out into the world and express their beliefs, stand up to hate, and to spread knowledge.”
Currently, an average of 25-35 students show up at each meeting, which is an impressive increase from the 7 or 8 members that would show up two years ago. This semester, Allies has hosted an Open Expression night for Justice Week, supported members on National Coming Out Day, and worked to ensure that all members felt that they were meeting in a safe environment.
“It’s an incredible feeling to come to meetings; I’m proud of what we’ve already accomplished: the simple act of gathering a respectable number of LBGT McDaniel students and their straight allies together,” says junior Laura Manos-Hey, the club’s Treasurer. “I also fully believe that we can make a difference, especially on campus.”
Many plans are in the making for a successful Spring Semester. The main project in the works is Allies Week, which will feature kindness notes, support ribbons and bracelets, and a day of silence. Each day, a different color will be worn to show support of a different part of the GBLT community, and members will be equipped to answer questions and promote awareness of important issues.
“The fact that real issues are discussed and brought up by the people in the club means that you can never say that the questions asked and discussed don’t affect you because you made the question,” said freshman Ja’Nairra Meyers. “I think that this is a fun club and it’s not all about how oppressed gays are. It’s more of an uplifting atmosphere.”
That is what the main goal of Allies seems to be- support. The club is a network of accepting peers, a “support group,” as sophomore Chelsea Watkins calls it.
“The people are awesome!” said Tommy Lee, class of 2013. “It feels good being part of something where you know you can make a difference, even a small one.”
If interested in joining, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Facebook group.
“If you care about human rights, you should come to Allies. If you believe that all people should be treated justly no matter their sexual orientation, you should come to Allies,” said Manos-Hey.
Watkins reinforces this statement, adding, “You don’t have to be gay to be in Allies.”
“Honestly, anyone can join Allies,” said Makhlyagina. “I would love to have people join that are not afraid to argue about someone’s opinion, in a civilized manner. I only ask for respect and an ability to be open-minded. This doesn’t mean that I expect anyone to suck in anything we discuss or widely agree upon like a sponge, but to have the capacity to stand in someone else’s shoes and ask if perhaps they do have a point.”