Posted on: April 2, 2023 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Members of GASP! gather in room D123 after their Tuesday meeting with the president and members of administration. Back row: Marcus Crawley, Christian Graham, Emelia Dlugosz, Alice Loveland, Diego Rancel, Jose Romo, Rain Yamich, Angela Chen, Steph Penman. Front row: Erin Gillfillan, Hector Candia.

By Nick Stulga, Editor-in-Chief

Sometime between October and January, portions of Moraine Valley’s LGBTQIA+ resource page seemingly vanished.

To address this issue, among others, the Gender and Sexuality Progress (GASP!) club held a meeting Tuesday with college president Sylvia Jenkins, vice president of administrative services Richard Hendricks, dean of students and compliance officer Kent Marshall, and executive director of diversity, equity, and inclusion Rory Smith.

Against a backdrop of eroding rights across the country, members of the Moraine LGBTQ community find it a difficult time to see helpful resources disappear. More than 400 anti-LGBTQ laws have been proposed so far this year, according to the ACLU, with a record number being advanced and a handful being passed into law.

“First we would like to demand an explanation for the deletions and an apology,” GASP! member Angela Chen said. “We are frustrated by the difficulty involved in accessing and editing the page and request a restoration of editing privileges to GASP! 

“We believe that queer resources should be maintained by queer people in order to best reflect our struggles and lived experiences.”

We believe that queer resources should be maintained by queer people in order to best reflect our struggles and lived experiences.”

GASP! member Angela Chen

The Coming Out section of the resource page was completely deleted. According to GASP! member Alice Loveland, it included “a page about writing a coming out letter, a page containing over 100 coming out stories, and a page about handling homophobic arguments.” 

Other sections modified included the Community Resources page, which was cut in half, the Scholarships page, which had helpful links deleted, and 11 LGBTQ-specific links regarding jobs on the Employment page. 

“These were a lot of really useful guides to navigate employment as a LGBTQ+ person, to be able to do that confidently and safely,” GASP! co-president Steph Penman said. “And every single one of those links are removed.”

Health resources were also modified. These included information on safely finding condoms, STI testing info, and things to know about HIV/AIDS. These sections were deleted, being replaced by two non-clickable links, one on LGTBQI+ health and wellbeing, and one on monkeypox.

These resources were modified by Hendricks, who gained access to the pages after the DEI position was created at Moraine and filled by Smith, who works under Hendricks. Hendricks said he deleted content either because it was a dead link that didn’t go anywhere or because it wasn’t in line with the college’s core values.

Asked what values he was referring to, he pointed to a poster that listed them: “Integrity, Responsibility, Respect, Fairness, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion.” 

Hendricks said he spoke with Jenkins after the meeting about the concerns that were raised.

“We’re going to look at it,” he said.” It’s not immediate. We’re gonna address it. We’re gonna address everything. We will be responsive. That’s all we can say at this point, that we will be responsive.”

The concerns didn’t stop at the resource page issue. GASP! also mentioned the difficulty of getting chosen names changed, stating in their meeting presentation that “students should not have to go to each and every department to get their names fixed,” and pushing for an electronic form students could fill out.

I think that we can do a better job and I think that we will. Where I can be an asset to that, I will be.”

MV executive director of DEI Rory Smith

GASP! also asked Moraine to better collect data regarding gender identity and sexual orientation, host events specific to the LGBTQ community, hire a school nurse, fix issues with expired and understocked first-aid kits, fix bathroom signage, and host an STI screening event in conjunction with Moraine blood drives.

After the meeting presentation commenced, Jenkins gave a statement in response to the concerns listed. She started by explaining that not everything at Moraine can be exactly the way students would like, but that she is there to listen. She then pointed out that “not every concern that was listed today was brought up to us earlier.”

Club co-adviser and MV sociology professor Jeffrey McCully begged to differ, saying “the bulk of these concerns” were brought up “as early as 2014” to Margaret Lehner, vice president for institutional advancement, and Beth Reis, former director of research and planning.

“Most of them have not been addressed” and those that were addressed were poorly implemented, McCully said, asking that GASP! members have input in the way their concerns are addressed.

Smith, whose position was created in early 2022 to “help the college live out and emphasize its core values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) on campus,” said he is willing to aid in the journey to fixing these concerns.

“I believe that there were issues that were raised that we need to look at better,” Smith said. “I think that we can do a better job and I think that we will. Where I can be an asset to that, I will be.”

Photo by Nick Stulga
A slide from the GASP! presentation shows missing content in the resources page, using archives to reference the current page.