The Shippensburg University Institute for Social Inclusion held a conversation tackling transphobia and racism in higher education on Zoom last Friday.
Alithia Zamantakis, SU LGBTQ+ programs and services and Pride Center director, and R. Babyface Card, the assistant director of campus life for Florida International University, led the program. The discussion focused on how Shippensburg and other campuses can allow for a sense of better belonging for LGBTQ+ students and students of color.
Card said she came into this work to make sure queer and trans students feel safe and protected. She wants to lead as an example to LGBTQ+ and students of color to be visible and not hide their identity, she said.
“When universities create policy changes, it is a huge deal,” said Josh Smith, a member of Shippensburg’s Pride Center.
Card said campuses need more students and staff of color and in the LGBTQ+ community. It is the best way to make students and professors feel the most comfortable on campus, she said.
Bringing people of the same identity together is very important for all higher education campuses and creates a better sense of belonging for students.
Other SU students and faculty members joined the Zoom discussion explaining that the town of Shippensburg is not diverse enough to make new students and faculty feel welcome.
Card said something as simple as having a barber in town that students of color can use, and trust could be a great step to develop a more welcoming relationship between the university and the town.
To join in future discussions and listen to speakers focusing on tackling racism and transphobia on the Institute for Social Inclusion’s website ship.edu/insinc/social-inclusion-cafe/ or visit the Pride Center website ship.edu/life/resources/pride/.