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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

ODI hosts Bobby Berry in lunch seminar for LGBTQIA+

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) hosted a lunch seminar for LGBTQIA+ students and faculty within marginalized communities on Oct. 5. 

Bobby Berry, assistant dean for the College of Applied Studies for Diversity, spoke to students and faculty members about struggling to express their sexuality while also representing their culture. 

The seminar offered LGBTQIA+ students around campus to get to know the queer community around them and the support WSU has to offer. It also allowed the students to know they are not alone in their struggles. 

Jillian Belden, student program coordinator for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, introduced Berry and the importance of identities.“We wanted to make sure we are highlighting not only the minority population of LGBTQIA+ on campus,” Belden said, “but also the cultural aspects of that, and making sure that we are not only giving you a place to be heard, but we’re also giving you a space to learn more … (and) figure out how you take those identities and use them to navigate through the world today.”

During the seminar, Berry shared his struggles in coming to terms with his sexuality within his culture.

“Very early on, I had to kind of figure out this whole notion of identity,” Berry said. “Coming to terms with my sexuality, that presented a whole other layer of challenges, you know, being gay and Black, not only in America but just within a Black culture.”

Berry also spoke to students about learning to leverage their identities and how their personal struggles with race and sexuality shaped them.

Clarence Albury, the graduate council vice president, spoke about the internal struggle queer people representing marginalized communities face. 

“I feel like being a Black and queer person, you usually feel pressured to choose culture over sexuality,” Albury said. “There are a lot of Black, queer people who don’t want to have to choose when they go into those spaces, ‘Who am I going to be? Am I going to be a Black person, or am I going to be a gay person?’”

During the seminar, Berry asked the crowd if they felt supported by faculty and staff at Wichita State, and why they felt it was important to be supported by the faculty. 

Dawson Jacques, a WSU student and the president of Spectrum: LGBTQ and Allies, said that, as a transgender man, it felt difficult to get support from faculty and staff on campus.

“I feel like my identity is acknowledged quite often. It’s the support that is more interesting,” Jacques said. “It’s the not understanding of what that (support) means, I think, from a lot of professors that’s more frustrating.”

Berry said that Student Affairs is preparing intentional training for faculty and staff specifically to support LGBTQIA+ students. He also stressed the importance of students advocating for themselves.

“Continue to elevate (concern) in spaces you’re in,” Berry said. “Because what I will tell you is that if I have enough of you say that this is a concern, it will become a priority.”

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About the Contributor
Maegan Vincent
Maegan Vincent, Former photographer
Maegan Vincent was a reporter and photographer for The Sunflower.

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